When asked what I wanted for Christmas, I jokingly said “new wiper blades” and seriously said, “new running shoes”. I almost always ask for running shoes since I wear them out quickly and am always in need. My family knows me well and Christmas morning came with a bounty of thoughtful gifts that left me feeling loved.
Thoughtful Gifts and Holiday Mishaps
There were Disney gifts, of course. Megan and Grant gave me adorable holiday Mickey and Minnie. Raymond surprised me with a precious Pinocchio teapot. My coworkers gave me the perfect welcome mat for our front door.
There were chicken-related gifts as well. My sister and brother-in-law gave me this very cool bracelet that I love (and wearing it makes me feel badass) and some paper place mats with chickens on them that are way to beautiful to spill food on. From Joseph I got a handy book about caring for chickens and Raymond found me awesome gloves to wear for chicken chores. I love my family and their thoughtful gift-giving ways! (I even received those wiper-blades and running shoes, too!)
After Christmas, I had a few leftover vacation days to burn before the end of the year and since Raymond’s always off the week between Christmas and New Year, it was great to have time off together to do…well…nothing. The weather has been super rainy lately, so we found ourselves lazing around, eating, reading, and watching movies.
Now for the Mishap Part…
When I’m not outside with Junior, he’s always well-behaved out on his own. He tends to make a backyard perimeter check, take care of business, and come right back. He’s chased the chickens before, but only when I was outside with him. So when we go for a walk, he wears a leash. I let him out alone yesterday afternoon as usual, and I as I closed the door, saw him turn sharply right and quickly disappear from view. After thinking about it for a minute, that struck me as odd, so I put on my rubber boots and went out to see what he was doing. Junior was nowhere to be found.
As I walked around the backyard calling for him, I realized I could hear the chickens squawking like crazy and I took off running. I spotted Junior way in the distance chasing chickens into the bayou that runs near our house. Detouring to the back door, I leaned in and shouted my thoughts out loud to Raymond, “Junior’s killing the chickens!”
Still running, I managed to wade out into the water and grab Junior’s collar. He was completely drenched and absolutely filthy. I looked for the chickens he’d been chasing and didn’t see any. Raymond had run outside during this time and started counting chickens so we’d know how many to look for. He counted 10 which meant we were missing five. I was sick and horrified! Not sweet Junior! Surely he wouldn’t have hurt anyone.
Eventually, I got Junior in the house and asked Raymond to keep him in the kitchen to minimize the mess he was making with his muddy feet and soaking fur. While they waited inside, I kept searching along the bayou and finally found Bubbles, a sweet and beautiful gray hen, on a tiny island all crumpled up and scared, but still alive. I waded out to her, gently picked her up and carried her back to the rest of the flock. After another long look around, I went inside to deal with the offending canine marauder. Raymond went back out to keep searching for the missing four chickens – all hens: Opal, Pearl, Becky, and Moe. (All but Moe are Sapphire Gems we bought as chicks in the fall and Moe is one of the five that hatched in May while we were away at Walt Disney World.)
First I tried shampooing Junior in the shower since he hates baths, but his long winter coat was packed with dirt, rotten leaves, pine needles, and small sticks. Raymond came in to tell me that by his latest count, there was only one chicken unaccounted for. I had him help me wrangle Junior into the tub. Finally, after both shower and bath, Junior was at last reasonably clean. I don’t know if dogs can feel contrite, but Junior seemed to know that he’d gotten carried away and was uncharacteristically well-behaved for the entire scrubbing ordeal.
Once I had Junior towel-dried and on a leash, I took him back out to help me search for Moe. We searched until it was dark. I counted everyone in the coop as I closed and secured the gate for the night. Still no Moe, who’s always easy to spot because she’s bright white with black feathers around her neck. I left the electric fence off so if she came back and tried to go in the coop, she wouldn’t get shocked. I was heartbroken when I went to bed and thought about Moe a few times during the night.
This morning dawned clear and chilly. I went out early to let the chickens out and give them some scratch as a treat and I could not believe my eyes! There was Moe! IN THE COOP! I know this…she was not there the night before and yet here she was inside with the rest of the flock. Raymond and Joseph both swear they didn’t let her in, so I can’t explain how this story has such a happy ending. Junior is not a chicken-killer after all and everyone is happily enjoying a beautiful sunny day. Tiny miracles happen all the time and today we’re thankful for this one.