Very little makes my heart as glad as seeing Bruno and Cletus standing on their hind legs doing their “happy dance” when they see me in the morning. Cletus stands as tall as I am when in this position, and he wags his long tail, as he bunny hops on his hind legs and his long body bends and sways like a reed in the wind. He really should be a star.
We have been working on our ‘chicken etiquette”. Cletus and Bruno too, believe that all chickens are fun squeaky toys to be captured, pinned and 'undressed'. This results in my poor poultry being shocked beyond recovery, and either dying from the shock or perhaps dying from embarrassment at being naked before the world. Stern warnings and confiscation and humane dispatch of the victims have, up until now, failed to get my point across. If a loose chicken was anywhere he could see it, he would break all land speed records racing to capture and torture it, with me lagging far behind him, threatening and screaming epithets.
Cletus, normally a “soft dog” that wilts at the first harsh word, is the worst offender. Chickens are just a greater temptation than he seems able to overcome. We all have them, let's face it. I decided Cletus needed a little help with his.
I purchased a remote collar that, instead of delivering electric shock, sprays citronella at their face. Dogs HATE it, but it doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort. It is an annoyance for sure. I had used it once on each of the dogs last fall, with pretty good results. It was time to recharge it and let Cletus wear it again. He is maturing rapidly with the combined responsibility he and Bruno have of watching over all our calves, lambs, goats and sheep. It’s time to add the chickens to the mix, so they can free range and I can save some feed money.
I fastened and fitted the collar on him and armed with my remote, we headed to the greenhouse where the chicks reside. I pulled up a chair and remained at a distance while Cletus went to ‘cruise chicks’. I was fully prepared to hit the buttons at the first sign of aggression from him, hoping I would be quick enough and it would be sufficient to save my hapless test victims.
Cletus' ears perked up and I could see the glint in his eyes as he strolled up and towered over them. Then he stood a few feet off observing the chicks pecking through the grass. Then THEY noticed HIM and ran squeaking into the green house. He slowly walked over and stuck his head in the door. My hands tensed and I waited in anticipation. He looked in for a couple of minutes, then walked past and laid down in the corner. The chicks began to wander out again, one by one, past his nose and started scratching around on the lawn again. He stood up and walked among them. He noted me and came to see me. I hugged and praised him. I never had to hit the spray button. I removed his collar and we went back out with the bigger animals, as I don’t think he is yet trustworthy to be with the chicks unsupervised. He restrained himself, but he looked far too interested. As I removed his collar I hugged him again, then realized how very lucky we had all been that he’d found some self control.
I had forgotten to turn the collar on.