You might recall that for a while, we had trouble with the neighbors across the gravel road from the Mansion. Not so much a problem with the neighbors as with their aggressive, chicken-killing, pet-attacking standard poodle and bob-tailed brown dog. For a while now, those dogs have been penned up. Oh, don't think it was because of our chickens. Farmer H let them know, and they said they'd been trying to get their invisible fence fixed. But the devil dogs still ran rampant. And then they killed the fowl of the people who live on the land behind them, and the dogs got penned. Maybe those other neighbors made some threats. Or some promises. Anyhoo...it solved our devil dog problem. Thank the Gummi Mary the penning happened before we got Puppy Jack. I don't know how I would cope if I found him murdered in the yard.
Puppy Jack has his moments. Lots of moments. He's a chaser. If it moves, Jack's on it. Loudly. He is not, however, a killer. He chases all of our cats if he catches them moving across the yard. If they're on the porch, he just tries to hump them. He chases our chickens and guineas and turkey. Not so much the turkey, who stares him down. The guineas, who I am convinced are Satan with feathers, squawk their tiny heads off, and run like the wind. The chickens run around like their heads have been cut off, dropping feathers here and there, like when the guineas grab them by the butt and swing them around. Still, Jack has not harmed any of our animals, though he HAS made their heart rates increase.
One thing I noticed about Jack is that he seems to be STEERING the fowl to where he thinks they belong. For example, if I walk over to the BARn field, and Jack sees two or three chickens over there, he runs them down, barking, until they take off for the roosting tree or feeding area. It took me a while to decode this pattern of Jack's behavior. Farmer H feeds the fowl in the evening, right after I am done with my walk, and I think Jack knows that they belong in that area. Every time I see him chase one, he's making them run to the pen/tree/feeding area. Maybe I'm projecting sense that Jack doesn't have.
Our side neighbors have a dog. It's quite breathtaking. I don't know what kind. It has a golden/mahogany shiny coat, like a boxer color, but it's not a boxer. It's tall and muscular. Seems friendly enough. It has just recently matured into doggy adulthood. It used to sit at the edge of the front yard, just across the property line of its own acreage. No problem. Just sat and watched me interact with Jack and Juno, until they smelled him and ran at him and he left. Then he started sitting his ground, and they'd run up to an invisible wall, and bark at him. Whenever I caught him in the yard, I'd stick my head out the front door and yell, "Get out of here!" And he would.
Several weeks ago, Big Mahogany started coming around in the evening. That's when Jack and Juno have their snack on the porch, then frolic in the front yard. Big Mahogany sat by the garage, watching. It seemed like he wanted to play. Jack and Juno did not like that at all. Bark bark bark. Jack would dash at Big Mahogany, then hold up, because he DOES know that he's a little shaver, and could be chewed up and spit out. Big Mahogany started to feint and wag his tail. Like he wanted to join in playing. For a couple of nights, they all played chase, though there was none of the friendly biting and wrestling that Jack and Juno have between themselves.
THEN...I stared seeing Big Mahogany in the front yard in the daytime. Jack and Juno yapping at him. It was like their line of defense shrunk. From the edge of the yard, to the driveway side, to the front yard proper, to the imaginary line from porch to well spigot.
The fur hit the fan a couple Saturdays ago, when HOS was with Farmer H over by Shackytown, and Big Mahogany came charging across the front yard chasing the turkey. Farmer H's turkey! Bore down on him like a locomotive, until Turkey flew up into the roosting tree. Let the record show that Turkey does not usually roost in the tree. But he sure got up there in a hurry, even though all his feathers didn't.
Did I neglect to mention that Farmer H had been finding piles of feathers for a couple weeks? Like the three piles of white ones I can point out from the porch right now, fresh from last week? Two under the cedar tree in the front yard where the chickens have a dirt bath, having scratched the grass away. And one in the side yard, towards the chicken pen. Not just errant feathers here and there, like we find often. PILES of feathers. Like a chicken exploded. Farmer H has only found one body, though. One of his latest chicks, that was now half grown. We stared with seven of them, and have two left. Not to mention 30 chickens total a few weeks ago, and now only 9 remaining.
That dead little chicken, and the turkey incident, are stuck in Farmer H's craw. We like our side neighbors. But I DID take a shot at Big Mahogany with the 30-year-old BB gun the other day. He turned to look at me like, "AND...?" Didn't even run off.
Here's the happy ending. So far. We haven't seen Big Mahogany for about a week. Yet when I go out to walk, and Jack and Juno start yipping and frolicking alongside me, I HEAR Big Mahogany, through the trees, in the direction of the side-neighbor homestead.
Here's Farmer H's theory. Big Mahogany had been killing the chickens. Probably after Farmer H left for work in the mornings, because the dogs had been waking me up (I know, tragic!) barking at something in the yard. Since Farmer H only found the one body, he thinks Big Mahogany was taking the carcasses home, and that neighbors found them in their yard, and thought, "OH SH!T, that's Farmer H's chicken!" So they penned up Big Mahogany. Because good pens make good neighbors.
Let the record show that Side Neighbor Gal had also seen Big Mahogany sitting in our yard one evening, and stopped her car on the gravel road and yelled at him to get home. Not that it worked. But she tried. And that the side neighbors had a pretty black lab a while back that somebody shot and laid at the end of their driveway. That dog WAS rambunctious and a nuisance. But you don't just kill somebody's dog unless it's killing a person at the time. Anyhoo...that might have been on their mind, too, when they penned up Big Mahogany.
So...we haven't lost a chicken or found a pile of feathers for about a week.
But I'm looking for a dog-friendly shock collar for Puppy Jack.