First off, everyone is now safe and alive. But we have our first brush with death here on the urban homestead with our flock of chickens. It wasn’t a raccoon or a possum. It was a much friendlier and surprising culprit.

We have a gentle greyhound, Howard, who is a retired racer and leaves the chickens alone completely. We decided to dog-sit for another greyhound this past weekend – a sweet girl named Taddy who is cat-safe and good natured. Unfortunately, a cat-safe dog does not mean a chicken-safe dog.

Jay let Taddy out for her morning bathroom break. I had just gotten out of the shower, took off my robe and was just beginning to change into clothes when I heard the sqwaking. Jay ran to the window and looked at the coop – Taddy had actually broken into the coop! I heard Jay say “OH MY GOD!” and run out the backdoor. I stood there naked in the bedroom, frantically trying to decide if I should just run out naked, try to change, or throw the robe back on. I chose the robe and ran out barefoot.

By the time I got outside, feathers were absolutely everywhere. It was so scary. When Jay first came out, he saw Taddy holding Pearl in her mouth, shaking her back and forth. When I got out, he had a hold of Taddy and was scolding her. I ran for Pearl, who was hiding behind a thick bush. I frantically scooped her up in my arms as Jay brought Taddy inside.

I held Pearl for a long time. She is normally skitish around people, since we adopted her as an adult, but she let me hold her forever. I gently looked her over. She was bald in small places, but only one drop of blood was on her – on her little beak.

We checked on the other chickens, now free-ranging outside in a corner. It was obvious Florence had been the first victim. She had bigger bald spots and a thin layer of skin had come off with feathers, but she was not bleeding. Everyone was safe now, and we were left with a mountain of guilt from letting out a seemingly safe dog without close supervision.

I am still not sure how Taddy managed to move a large rock in front of the coop door, unlatch the top and swing the door open. It doesn’t matter really. She managed to get in and we should have been there to make sure she didn’t.

The chickens have since recovered. They spent the day outside grazing while Taddy spent the day with me in the office. After Taddy went back home, the chickens relaxed a lot. They know Howard won’t hurt them still and we know this was an incredibly lucky incident that no one died.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson