Thursday, October 29, 2015

An Accidental Death

"I still feel badly about the chicken," my friend Jane said to me the other evening as we drove to an author reading in Amherst.
"Oh, don't," I said. "It was just a chicken. No one is to blame."
I was upstairs in my office working when I heard the chickens squawking. And squawking. When I looked out the window, I saw chickens running away from the coop, and Jane and my husband towards the coop.
Then I saw my dog running away from the pen with a chicken in her mouth, her friend Sam hot on her heels.
The game was on.
And what a game it was. The two dogs ended up at the top of the field with two humans chasing them on foot, and one hell bent for leather in his four-wheeler. I was watching the whole thing with the binoculars so I was the only person who saw the dogs standing over what was likely by then a dead chicken, looking as if they were saying, "Now what do we do?"
It's no one's fault.
Our friends had no way of knowing the chickens were loose in the yard because Jane and I haven't been getting together for walks like we used to (now that's MY fault), and Sam always fusses at the chickens when he's here -- he ran circles around the rabbit hutch, too -- so to find the whole coop wide open and chickens all over the place ... !
Even Abby, grabbing a chicken by the neck, only did so egged on by her friend. She's taller and faster than he is, and couldn't resist the chase or the capture. They were two dogs caught up in a moment. I don't expect they "got a taste for blood".
The dogs knew we were displeased, and we'll keep an eye on Abby as long as the chickens are free-ranging till winter begins. But there's need to feel badly about the chicken. It was a bizarre and unexpected event, a completely accidental death.
I wouldn't have said this a few years ago but it was just a chicken.

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