Barkley Takes Chuck DOWN! (by Chuck, with permission from Barkley)

“He is with Spirit” is an expression I learned years ago when I moved to the Bible Belt. Though not a churchgoer, I did find myself in church several times a month during the years I worked at a University in a home for autistic adults. Every Sunday we’d take a crew to church, usually this particular all-black church where the members were extremely welcoming and we felt at home in. There I got to witness first-hand, and on a regular basis, what it looks like to “be with Spirit” – waving arms, wild dancing, crying with joy and speaking in tongues. Years later, when Barkley showed up to tell me he was moving in, I realized not only humans can “be with Spirit.”
Barkley loves to run, and often runs just for the pleasure of it. It is during this time when he is most vulnerable to “The Spirit”. Often his excitement level suddenly surges, he gets this wildly happy expression on his face – big smile, jowls flapping, tongue waggling from the corner of his mouth, his eyes wide-open and crazy, and I realize, The Spirit has him! His usually circuitous running routes turn into straight-line, high-speed sprints, grass and dirt flying, streaking from the front of his yard to the back fence almost half a football field away, to stop, spin around, and bolt right back. This will go on for five or more 30 yard-length sprints, with me cheering him on, clapping and laughing at the spectacle of animated high-speed joy as it dashes by, brushing against my legs. At some point his eyes will clear a bit and he flops down, panting, a look of complete fulfillment, his flapping tongue protruding so far out I wonder how all that tongue can fit into his mouth.
But there is a dark side to this – this one particular time Barkley was “with Spirit” that will live in infamy. The day was in November, 2015. Slate-gray, damp, cold, foreboding.

It was late morning, my day off, when I greeted Barkley, an outdoor dog (he is the only dog known to turn into an actual EF-5, multi-vortex tornado when in an indoor environment. Destruction is total). I was particularly glad to be off, my joy was infectious, and the next thing I know Barkley takes off in his circuitous happy-to-be-alive running routine with his human laughing and clapping him on.  After one or two times around it happened.  His eyes, his face… the Spirit was with him!  He turned from the far fence and bolted straight-line right at me.

Once I witnessed attack jets from the Colorado National Guard practicing strafing and bombing runs.  The tank-like A-7s often flew just above the tower, their wind very strong; pure, solid steel streaking by so close to the observation tower – – such energy and power! So humbling! Barkley’s close passes reminded me of the force emitted by those attack jets. But those jets were instruments of awesome destructive power.  I thought Barkley was just the opposite – an instrument of pure joy and light in spite of the obvious power behind his speed.  How wrong I was.

He brushed my legs on his first pass, turned, streaked back at me, and brushed by me like lightning on his second pass.

His third pass began just like the first two. He spun around at the fence and bolted, wild look, flapping tongue, flapping ears, crazy, happy wide-open eyes, his human laughing and clapping him on.  It all happened so quickly….  It turned into a horror.  Barkley was not going to brush by me this time.  I clearly remember his battering-ram head with his wild-eyed, goofy expression milliseconds from directly impacting my right knee and realizing, “He’s taking me down!” And he did….

One of the lessons I learned from this was how subjective the passage of time is.  The force of his collision thrust my knee backward to such an extent I still can’t believe my leg didn’t snap in half, but neither the pain signals had yet to make it to my brain, nor had my facial expression had time to register this new development; it was still displaying joy and exuberance. Had a photo been snapped of this precise moment it would have shown a human with his leg angled at the knee, obscenely bent the opposite direction a leg is supposed to bend. But the facial expression of the victim shows positive feelings, if not outright glee.  It wasn’t until I was halfway to the ground before the pain registered. I was three-quarters of the way down before my expression started changing to reflect the flood of unanticipated information finally hitting my brain. Nine-tenths of the way down a question suddenly burst forward: Why?!

By the time my back hit the damp earth my brain was frantically sending signals to my face to register the appropriate expression and to my vocal chords to make the appropriate noises – a scream of pain, anguish, and confusion. Why? Why did he do this to me? How could this be?

Time returned to normal as I grasped my knee and rolled around in the leaves, moaning and howling as the dog continued being “with Spirit”.  I covered my head when I heard the crashing of his paws approaching at the speed of sound, to see a white flash as he leaped over me and feel a fleeting sense of relief. The pain was all-consuming, but I still had the presence of mind to cover my head and face again as he surged back at me, to flash overhead…. and then it all became a blur….

I walked with a limp for almost 6 months.  For not quite a year my limp would return sporadically.

Did “The Devil” suddenly possess him on that fateful third pass?  Did “The Spirit” suddenly remember some sin I committed and decided to punish me, using Barkley as his vehicle?  Or did The Dog decide, “Oh what the hell…”?

So now, whenever my dog gets possessed, I plaster myself against the fence or put a tree trunk between me and the speeding, rapturous hound.  In fact, just last night when I returned from work and went in the back yard to find him, I first heard the jingle of his collar, then his footfall, realized with a twinge of fear that he was sprinting at me at high-speed from the darkness, I hugged the fence and winced, the terrifying flashback of that horrible morning replaying itself.  But for nought.  I was safe. He did not crash into my right knee. Or any knee. Thus today, from the security of a tree or the fence, I have returned to my traditional role of laughing and clapping him on when he is “filled with Spirit.”  But I will never forget….

img_3881 img_4173

(Take the head of the dog in the first photo and stick it on the body of the dog in the second photo to get an accurate image of subject the millisecond before the Collision of November, 2015.  Top photo was just before strike at waist-level.  Lower photo shows dog just before strike at knee-level, his expression showing he is beyond the point of no return and is fully committed to impact.)

 

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An Important Warning for the Holiday Seasons

An Important Warning for the Holiday Season from the U.S. Dept of Health and Safety for dog owners when visiting loved ones with at least one cat in the household: While the photographs depict both species in similar poses with undersides exposed, the dog does so to invite the human to rub his tummy. This intention is too-often tragically mistaken for the cats’ as well, the feedback from cats indicating said mistake often conveyed in milliseconds. Help cut own on Emergency Room overcrowding this Holiday Season. Be safe. Be smart. Be educated. NEVER rub a kitty’s tummy!

Chuck Daukas's photo.

Chuck Daukas's photo.

Human /Canine History Repeats Itself Yet Again!

How many times has this happened during humankind’s history of interaction with the members of our beloved canine community, where the human joyously swoops earthward to greet said dog at the precise moment dog joyously springs skyward to greet said human?barkley practices yoga

Barkley cuts me below the eye 5-5-16

 

Caliburn Press Blog Hop

The Guy Who Feeds me has a novel, “A Little Night Fishing” published with Caliburn Press. This week his publisher is having a “Blog Hop” to help get word around of their books and their blogs.

 

Hi all!!
Welcome to the Caliburn Press Blog Hop!!! Below you will find some of our books by some great authors. Please check them out. Don’t forget to follow the blog links below for more blogs and giveaways.

JJ Fowler
The Longest Midnight
The Earth is dead, long ago ruined in the fires of the war – a war without end. Humanity now fights extinction from the legions of the ravenous dead. These dead warriors change, they adapt, they fight back with our weapons, mimic our tactics, and even speak in our tongue. In a sign of desperation, a small group of human soldiers sets off into the unknown for answers to the dead’s uncanny ability to learn and organize and kill. They hope to return with something that will turn the tide in humanity’s favor. But is there even a tide to turn? Most humans can only wait and look up into the blackened sky, a sky without sun, a sky they call The Longest Midnight.
Link: Coming Soon.

Barbara Custer
When Blood Reigns.
Marked for death, Alexis holes up in a safehouse with her lover Yeron and four survivors of a zombie invasion. She’s searching for the compound where Kryszka renegades are making a chemical to induce a zombie-like state. Despite frequent assaults by ravenous walkers, subtle dangers such as hidden cameras elude Alexis. She never realizes until too late that the renegade soldiers have been tracking her.
Link: Coming soon.

Marti Boshers
Sophie’s seemingly ordinary life is about to be replaced with one full of chaos when she travels to an immortal realm for protection. She discovers she is part faery and part witch, but she is more powerful than either. She soon realizes she will have to protect her family, friends, and this new world she has come to love. She will sacrifice everything and never give up hope. She finds family, love, and power, but she also finds betrayal and murder. Will she rise to the challenge set before her or fall beneath the ashes of what she is destined to save.
Link: Coming Soon

S.A. Hunter
Elanraigh: The Vow
Thera doesn’t know why the Elanraigh Forest-Mind chose her, of all the Allenholme folk, to hear its voice and to awaken her gifts of mind and spirit. The Elanraigh sends a warning dream—black sails swooping toward Allenholme from across the western sea—the Memteth, an ancient enemy, armed with blue fire that hungers to consume life.
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Elanraigh-Vow-S-Hunter-ebook/dp/B0075XGQSU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461198458&sr=8-1&keywords=Elanraigh%3A+The+Vow

Chuck Daukas: A Little Night Fishing
“Hidden by the sea and the fog, he watches. His lust for human flesh has sprouted and grown over a preternaturally long life. Now his hunger is insatiable and he will hide no longer.
On shore, a young, bumbling security guard barely escapes a mind-wrenching encounter, only to find himself all that stands between the thing and humanity – and a multiplying horror that is closer to us than we are to ourselves.”
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Little-Night-Fishing-Chuck-Daukas-ebook/dp/B00L5UDUOM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461198395&sr=8-1&keywords=chuck+daukas

Barbara Winkes
Amber Alert
When her two-year-old niece is kidnapped, Major Crimes Detective Ann McCoy uses every bit of leverage she has with Agent Cal Davis to stay on the case. The girl’s parents, Ann’s sister and her wife, are desperate for answers.
While the investigators look at the disturbing possibilities, a pattern emerges. They find an organization hidden in plain sight that has no boundaries when it comes to pushing their agenda-
even at the cost of harming families and children.
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Amber-Alert-Barbara-Winkes-ebook/dp/B01BE15V3Y/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1461198333&sr=8-4&keywords=barbara+winkes

Julia French
Hill Magick

Seeking escape from her abusive husband, aspiring columnist Rachel Jeffries travels into the hill country of Massachusetts, where she is saved from certain death by self-taught folk healer True Gannett. Armed only with his great grandfather’s knowledge, can True protect himself and Rachel and stop the swath of destruction started by the powerful magician Joshua Lambrecht and his obnoxious familiar?
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Hill-Magick-Julia-French-ebook/dp/B00D5X37SQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461198244&sr=8-1&keywords=hill+magick

Frank Julius Palumbo:
The Enochian Wars: Armageddon Unleashed
Planet Nibiru has returned from its twelve thousand year orbit, and its inhabitants, a race of advanced winged gargoyles, will again rule Earth as Gods. Humanity’s harvest has begun.
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Enochian-Wars-Armageddon-Unleashed/dp/1944579060/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461198186&sr=8-1&keywords=frank+julius+palumbo

Sandie Will
The Caging at Deadwater Manor
On a cold, January evening, fourteen-year-old Jeannie Kynde is told that her beloved mother drowned in the murky waters along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Her distraught father turns on Jeannie, no longer the caring father she once knew. Four years later, Jeannie is finally old enough to escape her father’s clutches, but he has different plans. He imprisons her at Deadwater Manor, a psychiatric hospital with an unscrupulous past. Will she be locked away forever?

BLynn Goodwin
Talent
Fifteen-and-a-half-year-old Sandee Mason wants to find her talent, get her driver’s license, and stop living in the shadow of her big brother, who disappeared while serving in Afghanistan. She tries out for the school musical, but is assigned to a job that might be better than any role. Everything changes after her dad picks her up following a Saturday work day, and I can’t tell you the rest without spoilers. If you check the reviews on Amazon, you’ll see that it’s well worth your time.
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Talent-B-Goodwin-ebook/dp/B0182N1PZA/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461198018&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=BLynn+Goodwin

Tina Amiri
Whatever the Impulse
When There’s Nowhere To Go But Too Far..

With his sole guardian turned stalker and the police on the wrong side, 19-year-old Night has little choice but to enter into an elaborate ruse in exchange for refuge. Despite his oppressive, isolated past, fulfilling his dying mentor’s grand expectations is achievable for prodigious Night, but threats and temptations abound. As Night’s power increases, will he be able to control his feral impulses, and more importantly, will he care?
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Whatever-Impulse-Tina-Amiri-ebook/dp/B01BLX43GQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461197958&sr=1-1&keywords=tina+amiri

Michael Penny
The nations of Daern are being torn apart. Old enemies are watching their borders, leering through a thin veneer of peace. The nobles search for weaknesses among their rivals, even as their castles crumble around them. And hungry spirits creep into the souls of mortals, whispering of more horrors still to come. At the edge of civilization, four lives collide in this world where mercy has become a luxury few can afford and life is often cheap. Can they survive under the pressure of forces they barely understand?

Jodie Pierce
The Vampire Queen (book 1 of 3-trilogy)
A young woman awakes to find out not only is she an important Countess but she is also the very first or ‘Ancient One’ as she is called by her subjects. Her memories of being a vampire or anyone are gone so she must relearn everything (from spells to flying) from the people around her, but can they be trusted? She also learns her main objective as the old Countess was purifying the vampire race and wishes to continue with that work. The ‘Others’, powerful and evil vampires, attempt to use her memory loss to their advantage. They had been trying to entice her to their side for centuries. Struggling to remember her past, battling the ‘Others’ and coping with her new life keep the Countess busy throughout this spellbinding and thrilling novel. Will she succeed in her goals or will the ‘Others’ win her over to their side this time around?
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Queen-Jodie-Pierce-ebook/dp/B004V9Z768/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461197638&sr=1-1&keywords=jodie+pierce

Angela Page
Matched in Heaven
Heaven may not be what you imagine.
Jake and Mimi are dead and riddled with guilt. They play matchmaker for their spouses on Earth with the help Marcel, a disgraced priest. A May/December romance blossoms for Samantha and Syd on Earth until fate steps in.
Link: http://www.amazon.com/Matched-Heaven-Angela-Page-ebook/dp/B0161XSE9I/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461197573&sr=1-1&keywords=matched+in+heaven

Thank you for visiting my blog and don’t forget to check out the other ones on this blog tour. You can find the links below:

5/1 http://www.jjfowlerpad.com
5/1 http://www.itsanovelthing.blogspot.com
5/1 http://www.nancystraight.com
5/1 http://www.barkleysbaddogadventures.wordpress.com
5/1 http://www.sandiewill.com
5/1 http://www.matchedinheaven.net
5/1 http://www.jodiepierceauthor.blogspot.com
5/2 http://www.bloodredshadow.com
5/2 http://www.barbarawinkes.blogspot.ca
5/3 http://www.blynngoodwin.com
5/4 http://www.whatevertheimpulse.blogspot.ca
5/4 http://www.kissedbyliterature.blogspot.com
5/7 http://www.frankjuliuspalumbo.wordpress.com
5/7 http://www.storyinprogress.daem.tumblr.com
5/7 http://www.sandrahunter.blogspot.ca
5/7 http://www.juliafrenchbooks.wordpress.com

How Chuck Became My Human

The memories are very dim. I recall yet another night alone in the woods feeling REALLY freakin’ sorry for myself. And for good reason. I was already in the advanced stages of starvation. Famished? The humans need to invent a new word that multiplies its meaning ten-fold. I’d been hit by a car and couldn’t put weight on my left hind leg. My pelvis was broken and caved inward, making me have to walk with my body at a slight angle in order to go in a straight line. It hurt, things sucked, had sucked, and continued to suck.

Even dimmer memories….. Being in a crate waiting my turn with several of my buddies barking our heads off as some human was barking out commands to one of us standing obediently next to him, raring to go. With the report of the human’s rifle, the dog would go running.  I remember the gunshot was the big signal for me to leap into action… go get that fake bird-thingie  he would throw right after firing the gun and bring it back to him…. so much fun to play tug-o-war with it! Tug o War and Chase are my favorite games to play with humans. My job here was to train the human to play tug of war and chase, and wean him of his need to take the fake bird from my mouth without at least a struggle.  It was obvious from the start that I was going to need all the patience I had to do this.  It will take time, consistency, firmness, and repetition.

Next thing I remember, I’m in a crate in the back of the human’s pickup truck getting driven into the middle of nowhere, pulling over and being hauled out, and then watching the rear of the truck disappearing in the distance.  “You ARE coming back for me, right?”

Then it gets real fuzzy…..

So there I am one night by this big creek howling and yeowling from the core of my soul. In the depths of my mind lurked the possibility that sabre-toothed tigers and even Tyrannosaurus Rex might not be extinct after all…. Oh crap! What was that sound?!  I cried until first light, when I was so drained I couldn’t even whimper.

With my crooked scamper I made my way in a southerly direction for about two minutes or so. My nose drew me to this place because I could smell 6 chickens, one guinea, 3 cats, and chicken food.  I could hear the roosters announcing to the entire world that the sun was getting ready to come up.

A trailer squatted next to the chicken pen, with a carport next to it that was filled with junk and clutter. Obviously a redneck lived in that trailer. Being a hunting dog, this was an encouraging sign. Then, when submerged in the clutter I found this really nice quilt and a few old jackets tossed in a pile. I climbed onto the pile, stomped around a little bit to flatten it out, spun in a circle a few times, then lay down with a groan. As the first rays of the sun hit the treetops, my eyelids collapsed from their own weight, and I was dead asleep.

I bolt awake from the sound of the front door. Out walks the human. I say to myself, Oh my God! It’s CHUCK!, my heart suddenly beating fast. He climbs into his car and drives away.  Again, slumber overtakes me.  Dang this quilt was the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on! My eyes crash shut again.

It seemed like only a minute when I heard the sound of that same car, the crunch of gravel getting louder and louder, then the car comes into view.  My heart starts to pound again…..

He parked, stopped the engine…. then climbed out.  So I made the most important move of my lifetime. I stepped out from the shade of the carport in plain sight, wagging my tail, smiling, growling respectfully, and I guess I was peeing like a racehorse, too.  And Chuck put his hands up to his head and said, “Oh My God! It’s Barkley!”

“Yeah,  heh, heh… it’s me, Barkley!” (Wag-wag, whizz-whizz, smile/growl-smile/growl, wag-wag, whiz-whizz….), and after a brief pause where he just stared at me with his mouth open, he patted his legs and said, “C’m ‘ere, fella’!” So I did, and sat on his feet and looked right up into his eyes, with my entire body and head plastered against him. That felt so GOOD!

So I said, “Hey Chuck, can I be your dog?”

He said, “Sure!” and then he said, “Hey Barkley, wanna’ eat?”

 

 

 

Barkley’s Bad Dog Country Adventure with the Rooster

The rooster in question as he appears today. A victim? Or was he asking for it?

The rooster. A victim? Or was he asking for it?

 

The first week passed with the newest addition to the farm (Barkley, the Ex-Stray Dog) without major incident, other than several minor events, such as when Barkley chewed holes in a water pipe under the trailer, causing a high pressure, hissing leak.  No problem. All I had to do was keep the water shut off completely until I needed to use it.  Usually I was reminded to do this when turning on the shower, already late for work, having no results coming from the faucet, remembering the water is shut off, having to then run outside, cursing and stark naked, to throw the lever while Barkley is overjoyed that I’ve come out to play with him, to then assume the manipulatively droopy, forlorn, emotionally injured look perfected by all dogs as I immediately disappear back in the house.  My own spirited attempts to repair the leak failed, and I had to call in the plumbers to replace the pipe section. No big deal….

Barkley also demonstrated his savant-like skills in overcoming obstacles in order to get at what he wanted, the object of his desire usually first registering with his nose, until he got close enough to make a visual.  This one event was significant also in that he confirmed once and for all that he was not interested in the chickens.  I was in the chicken pen making repairs after shutting the door behind me and securing the door with a plastic-coated copper electrical wire.  I heard the door rustle behind me, and I turned to see Barkley pulling the door wide open with the end of the wire, the end of the wire clenched in his front teeth!  Somehow he unwrapped it, and did so almost immediately after I “secured” it. So I allowed him to let himself in, where he ignored the chickens completely and went straight to their feeding station and began wolfing down layer pellets and scratch grain.  I was stunned at his “lock-picking” skills, but also pleased that my gut feeling was correct in that he would be leaving the chickens alone.

But in the following days, something changed.  One day when I opened the door to the chicken pen, the birds filed out in a line as is the normal routine, the only difference was now there was a dog watching them.  By this time the birds had accepted this new presence, their initial nervousness and displeasure replaced by cautious indifference.  But on this one day the rooster pictured above had his gaze locked on Barkley’s and began clucking with a higher level of agitation, and I felt the rooster felt the dog was singling him out.  Nothing became of it.  But the next day the scene repeated itself, with the rooster’s clucking and jerking movements indicated an even higher stress level. Barkley was locked on him.  I told the rooster to stop fussing so much, that he’s attracting the dog’s attention. But I also wondered if the rooster was right – – that Barkley had him zeroed in.  The Ex-Stray Dog again did not attack, but he also kept his eyes on that paranoid (?) rooster, who continued to carry on clucking and fretting with such agitation that even I was getting the urge to chase him.  I told the rooster that if he’d stop carrying on the dog wouldn’t be staring at him.

The next day the scene repeated, except this time the rooster was beside himself – – that dog is staring at ME!

Rooster – stop it! You’re making him want to chase you!

And to my horror, that’s exactly was happened.  Barkley bolted for him.  The rooster took off into the woods, clucking in panic the whole way, quickly disappearing in the thickets with the white dog right behind him, and the human chasing after the dog, yelling, “Barkley! No!” Both animals quickly left me in the dust, and the sounds of clucking and rustling of brush faded into the distance. I saw that an imposing wall of needle-sharp pricker bushes lay straight in my path. So I suspended my chase, thinking to myself, Barkley – no! No! You are not really chasing one of the chickens, are you?

Screw it, I just don’t want to deal with this right now.  I immediately went into denial and went about my daily business, and whatever happens happens.

Shortly, Barkley returned, panting and seeming to be filled with the thrill of the chase, alert, ears perked, but panting hard and in need of a rest.  No sign of the rooster for over an hour, when he reappeared, clucking, scolding, and ill-at-ease. He scooted into the pen, where I shut the door safely behind him.

By early evening the rooster wanted out, so I obliged.  After opening the door I went right to Barkley’s side, ready to grab him if he went for the rooster again.  Suddenly, with abject horror the rooster noticed the dog, panicked, and took off into the woods, clucking like crazy! By the time I grabbed for Barkley he was already on his way, and he slipped out of my grasp like a greased lightning bolt.  Once again the rooster plunged into the dense undergrowth, the dog again on the rooster’ heels, and the human was quickly falling behind while yelling impotently, “Barkley, no! No!”  Both animals streaked through the prickers and disappeared into the foliage.  I stopped, furious with myself, my dog, and the rooster as I listened to the sounds of the chase fade into the wilderness. I barely made out a splash, followed immediately by another splash. – – the rooster had stricken out into the river that boarders my property in a desperate, final attempt to save himself, but the dog had gained the upper hand.  The human was seething, hurt, dismayed, and felt betrayed by his dog, who assured him that he would not be chasing the chickens.  Were the cats next on his hit list?

Within minutes the rustling of a fast-approaching dog filled the air. I held my breath, and my worst fears were realized.  High-stepping into view was a very wet, proud, all-business hunting dog with his prey clutched in his mouth, soaked to the skin and as limp as a rag doll, eyes shut, the bird’s head swaying lifelessly back and forth to the rhythm of the dog’s prancing gait on an obviously broken neck.  I could tell immediately my rooster, hatched and raised all by myself, from a frail, precious little cheeping bitty to a full-grown, handsome rooster, was dead. And Barkley killed him. And I was as responsible for this tragedy as the dog, if not more. And it was supposed to be my day off and I just wanted to rest and relax with no drama to have to deal with. But there I found myself trying to wrap my mind around the fact that my”new dog” not only chases chickens, but he KILLS chickens, and this rooster is dead because I WANTED to believe Barkley would not chase the chickens.  How naive could I have been? Guilt trip. Major guilt trip.

I wished I never owned any animals at all.

Butthead pranced right up to me, then tried to pass me by with his prize, but I grabbed him by his new, bright orange collar and began prying the rooster from his mouth.  Barkley’s toothy grasp was beyond firm, and I was amazed not to see any blood and that his sharp teeth had not penetrated the skin.  With two hands I worked his jaws open enough to carefully extract the cold, wet, lifeless rooster.  I felt the soaked, feathered body for broken bones and inspected it for gashes and blood, and found none. I guess Barkley’s hunting instincts gave him the control to deliver the prey “unscathed”.  I set the feathery form on the ground, then fell upon the Very Bad Dog like a linebacker on a quarterback after the whistle.

The chickens had priority over the dog.  This I told him very clearly when I took him in one week ago.  I had been raising chickens for over ten years. I’m not going to allow an ex-stray dog to inflict his instincts upon them!  They were my pets! So as the chicken lay in a soft lump on the ground next to us, Barkley was on his back and going through the motions of being submissive (because it was his job, not because he actually felt submissive), and he and I shared a “woodshed moment”. Perhaps any pacifist reader will be horrified that my disciplinary response was severe, but what I was realizing was that I’ll have to give him away if he doesn’t learn not to chase, let alone kill, my precious little birdies.

Was Barkley cringing and whimpering submissively? Hardly.  In fact his jaw was was dead set and his eyes were firm. If anything, he was being patient and professional. Yes, he understood I would react this way, but I needed to understand that this was his instinct, he was doing his job, and he will continue to do his job because what he did was NOT wrong and he did NOT feel badly about it. And wow did that tick me off even more! So I let him know, and he let it roll off. “I’m gonna’ keep doing it, and you need to get used to the idea. I am training you,” was what his body language told me. I couldn’t believe it!

At this point we both glanced over to the rooster. The rooster lay in a heap, with one eye open, watching us.

Huh?!

I stared at him as he stared at me. I looked at Barkley, who was taking his medicine like a man, then back at the bird.

“I don’t believe this!” I said aloud.

I left the dog and scooped up the rooster. Again his head hung down limply, his entire body as limp as limp as a water balloon filled with little bones while keeping that one eye on me as his other eye remained shut.  Again I inspected him by touch, this time more thoroughly, especially his neck.  I found  nothing. No broken skin, no abnormalities in the skeletal structure other than complete, “lifeless” relaxation.  His legs were fine, feet were fine. Confirmed no blood anywhere. I realized that through the cold wetness from the river, the dampness closest to his skin was warming up quite quickly. I gently jiggled the rooster, and his head and legs swayed, the unsupported parts of his body drooping over my fingers. So he’s been playing the part of a dead chicken this whole time! I started deeply into its one open eye, and it looked black and shiny and alive, and perhaps even a bit curious. He might have even been telling me not to let the dog know he was still alive…Shhh!  I whispered to him collaboratively, “Okay. Shhh!”

I took the warm, wet pile of feathers into the chicken pen and lay him on the ground, but in a sitting position, even though his head still hung limply, it rested like a lump on the pile of feathers that was his body, that one eye following me as I backed out and shut the door. We watched each other. He was motionless. Still “dead”.

Barkley was back on his feet, focused on me. His expression seemed to tell me he didn’t want me to be mad at him and hoped I was over it. I approached him, went down to one knee and looked him in the eye. His tail swished. I pet him as I shook my head back and forth like someone realizing not without admiration he had been taken for a sucker, realizing Barkley had successfully, skillfully changed the terms of the deal.  Barkley never clearly explained to me that the “No Chasing the Animals” agreement was a probationary condition with a one-week expiration date.  But that was now our problem – – as in, my problem and the cats’ and the chickens’ problem. The daily routine of the animals on the farm has just been turned upside down.

By nightfall, the rooster was back up in his roost with his fellow chickens, showing no signs of injury, and having one heck of a tale to tell. My tales to tell from this day? My new dog is successfully training me how to be his human, and I witnessed a rooster return from the dead.