Massacre

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[A dust-bathing Ms. Tori says, "After a close call like that, I need a spa day."]

When I post or talk about the chickens, inevitably, some (often former) chicken owner has a grisly tale to tell about the time a predator entered their coop and massacred all of the birds therein.  Having never experienced that level of carnage, I could only express my general condolences and try (or, more honestly, try not to) imagine what that would be like.  That all changed about a week ago.

It was Saturday evening, and the chickens were in their less-secure, but still presumably Moe-proof outer pen.  The Kid and I were inside puttering, and I let Moe out to potty.

What I still can't get over is that there was no noise.  Even inside the house, I'm typically pretty attuned to the squawks outside, but I didn't hear a thing for what had to be 15 or 20 minutes.  Even then it was just one loud screech that led me to check out the window to see that Moe had gotten himself inside the chicken coop.

I'll lead by saying that Tori is just fine.  (From the Kid on down, that has been most people's first question.  I suppose I've made no secret of my favoritism for our oldest girl.)  Christina and Stevie, however, were reduced to such a mess that I had to go back to old photos to figure out that it was really them.  I found nothing of our sleek, pretty Julie other than an abundance of black feathers.  And Taylor, while she ultimately survived, was very touch and go for a few days.  

In less than a half an hour, our little flock was reduced by a third.  And, with the combination of the stress and the darkening days, we'll be lucky to get more than an egg a day for the next month.

Upon inspection, Moe's entry point was small hole in the bottom of the fence.  He had to have been working at it for at least a week, sneaking a nudge with his nose and chewing on the wire when we weren't looking, plotting his crime on late night trips outside when it was too dark for us to see.

Was I pissed at the dog?  You betcha.  I tossed him into the basement while I cleaned up and looked after our injured and terrified birds--partly to keep him out of the way, but also to avoid beating him to death in front of my child.  He was canis non grata for the rest of the weekend, and he knew it.

Of course, he eventually wormed his way back into the family.  His sad yelp the first time he hit the hot wire now running along the bottom of our repaired fence--and the way he ran straight to me and cowered under my legs pitifully--didn't hurt his cause.  Nor did the fact that he's been such a snuggle bug for my pregnancy induced insomnia. 

On the one hand, we will probably never own another terrier after life with Moe.  From here out, it will be nice, obedient Goldens or a lazy mutts for me.

On the other, Moe can't help it if he's almost as smart as our 3 year old and centuries of inbred prey drive are screaming to him that chickens = food.  Even though I'm always ready to hand him off to the lowest bidder in the temper of the moment, every time I give myself a chance to cool off I come to the conclusion that his misdeeds are as much our fault as his.  He's a dog, we're the humans.  We have to keep ahead of him.

Honestly, I don't feel like we're very good at that.  Just when I think we're old and wise terrier owners, he figures out some new trouble.  We learn something each time--like that we need to practice constant vigilance as to the state of our chicken fencing, for example--but he's an incredibly determined, creative little bugger.  I can't imagine what the next security breach will be, but the one constant is that he always comes up with something.