[WARNING: this blog has graphic photos.]
August 13, 2009 — a brown dog killed three of my egg-laying hens, including my pet hen, Big Buff.
Jim and Ben chased off the stray dog from our property around 1:30pm. The attack occurred about an hour after Ben let out the hens to free range on grass and bugs. Our family have seen this dog off the owner’s property multiple times. The dog belongs to our neighbor whose property borders our fence line.
I do not fault the dog for being a dog; I fault the owner for being irresponsible.
I expected to hear a vocal squawking alarm call from the flock when the attack happened. Did I hear a very short burst of call when I was on the computer? Did I miss the alarm call for “I’m being attacked by a dog, help!” call? Or was it “Quick, hide, my fellow hens, I’m being eaten by a predator!” call.
Ben took a quick walk around our property and posted about the dog attack on Facebook. We immediately had outpourings of support from friends. Before I headed out to investigate in my rain gear, I took a deep breath and reminded myself to accept whatever I find, dead or alive. Ben and I searched for the remainder of my flock in drizzling fog.
I found silver-laced Wyandotte feathers strewn all around under the laundry line. Where’s her body?
Ben pointed out the second victim, Buff Orpington, died on the wood shed ramp. I identified her comb; it was Pancake. Half of her feather was strewn about the woodshed. She had deep puncture wounds in her back and thighs; it appeared that her back was broken by the dog.
Oh no, not my little sweetheart! We adored her because she immediately flattened to a crouch when Ben or I approached her, hence her namesake, “Pancake.” She had a habit of sleeping on the lip of the nest box and leave droppings for me to clean up in the morning.
I walked down to the chicken coop to see three live hens setting in the nest boxes: Lil Buff, Growly Buff (two live Orpingtons) and one Black Star hybrid hen. Whew! My other favorite pet hen, Lil Buff, is alive!
The hens will be on lockdown until we (1) procure an electronet fence (2) reinforce the fence line and (3) make sure someone is outside when the hens are out.
Ben found the bodies of the Silver-laced Wyandotte and another dead Orpington by our house pad. He took photos of the dead hens and the two dog prints on our driveway.
My stomach lurched when I did the process of elimination: there were four live Orpingtons in our flock of thirteen, two alive (Lil Buff and Growly Buff) in the nest boxes, one dead (Pancake) and the other victim was Big Buff.
As I approached the site of destruction, I saw buff feathers everywhere. I was in a moment of denial. “No way, can’t be Big Buff… Maybe I mistaken Growly Buff for Big Buff.”
I looked closer at the comb. It was large and distinct comb of Big Buff. Her left wing and left thighs were severed from her body. She was defeathered, brutally skinned and her flesh was exposed.
Heart*bleepin*breaking. She’s dead. I felt anger, loss and grief all in a big ball in the pit of my stomach.
This was my most favored hen. She was very affectionate and friendly hen. She had a high-pitched call when she greeted me. After my morning chores, Big Buff would peck my apron to remind me to “Start the day with a morning cuddle!” She was also our fattest Orpington hen.
She doesn’t stop with a morning cuddle. There were afternoon cuddles, too. When she was in my lap, she’d lean into me, super relaxed: Her pupils would dilate, feathers near her comb would rise and she’d let out a long sigh. I’d start massaging her back, under the wings, her legs.
She also comforted me after the big earthquake of October 2006. Ever since I learned that she would chill in my lap, I looked forward to petting and massaging her.
We gather the three victims and buried them in the tea field. I continued to call out to my hens in the drizzle. Slowly the remaining seven hens came out of hiding. We put them back inside their locked coop.
Today, the total flock count equal ten hens: two Buff Orpingtons, four Australorps, two Barred Rocks and two Black Star Hybrids.
We will contact Hawaii Island Humane Society (808-885-4558) and the police in Honokaa (808-775-7533). I’ll keep you updated on what actions we took.
Rest in Peace: Big Buff, Pancake and Silver-laced Wyandotte. I’ll meet you over the Rainbow Bridge.
February 14, 2006 — August 13, 2009.
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