Faith (a.k.a. Chicken-dog) just can’t seem to get her act together. She has good days, even weeks, where no chickens are harmed under her watch. Then she’ll go on a killing spree. We are running out of ideas.
Initially we were told her behavior indicated hunger. The experts said to give her as much food as she wanted because if she was full, she wouldn’t want to kill chickens. She was never without access to food so we started giving her meat scraps along with her dry food. This made things worse because the chickens would try to eat the scraps and she’d become territorial and attack. No more bones for Chicken-dog.
Next came the muzzle. This was, by far, the most effective solution so long as we remembered to put it on her every night. Everything was working until one day she found where we stored it and shredded it. She’s smarter than she lets on.
Then we got the new house, took down all the temporary fencing and put the chickens behind the cows. With no more fences to confine her, she ran to her heart’s content and stopped killing chickens. Probably because for the first time in her life she wasn’t bored silly. We had high hopes that she’d outgrown her puppy antics and would finally be the Chicken-dog she was born to be. Until she discovered she could squeeze under gates and come visit the kitchen. Who would want to spend their days hanging out with chickens when the kitchen staff spoils you with beef liver treats?
That’s when we had to tie her up. Chained to the coop she had no choice but to guard her flock. She stopped killing chickens, but her limited range of movement meant she couldn’t protect them either. She’d freak out, jumping and barking, whenever she saw a hawk or fox, but these predators quickly discovered her spatial limitations and every day we’d find piles of feathers where birds had been snatched.
Right now, the chickens are spending the winter in a small corner of one of the pastures near the market. It is a set up similar to the one we had last March when I started my apprenticeship. As soon as we fenced the birds in and let Faith off her leash, she resumed her old chicken-killing habits. We got a new muzzle and started putting it on her at night. She started killing birds in the afternoon. We started muzzling her at lunch. It wasn’t happy situation for anyone.
Today we integrated our new and old flocks. (More on that tomorrow once I know if it was successful.) To keep Faith from going nuts, we separated her from the chickens. She’s in a fenced-in section adjacent to the chickens so she can still bark and run and protect them, but can’t actually interact with them. And we don’t have to muzzle her which is nice. For now, the chickens are safe. At least until the foxes figure out Faith is now all bark and no bite.