DEALING WITH GRIEF - MY DOG KILLED MY CHICKENS


My 12 pound pup is a murderer. The only one to blame is me.

In the Beginning

When I first brought my 8 Barred Plymouth Rock chicks home; I was careful to observe and introduce my two dogs to them. My dogs were interested but not aggressive... never aggressive.
In fact, the chicks would crawl over them.

Riley (Blonde Killer, Left) Stella (Black Killer, Right)

I knew when the dogs didn't even pay attention to the chick that it wasn't going to be a problem. I scolded them when they got to close or any activity around the chicks I felt promoted unsafe behavior. The dogs knew they were small and vulnerable so it was easy for them to be careful around chicks and didn't ruff house. The black dog (Stella) had a nature mother instinct towards the chicks while my dog, Riley, just didn't care.

Stella Golden Doodle with chicks

The Signs

When the chicks were small it was no problem. When the chickens grew up, now I realize there were so signs. To understand, you need to understand my dogs.

Riley:
  • Loves to play fetch
  • Does not socialize with dogs well, only dog to sort of be her friend is Stella (an obnoxious sister in her mind I would suspect)
  • Very scared and submissive towards dogs (especially big ones)
Stella:
  • Lovebug (lap dog, size does not matter)
  • Can carry as a baby
  • Plays with Riley (a generously big size difference). Stella plays with Riley by chasing and pouncing on her because Riley runs away (Riley does not like this)

When the chicks got bigger and became pullets. Their size difference was definitely new to Riley. The pullets became interested in her and peck a little and I saw Riley one time bark and do what she does to Stella (a fake bite, not close to the face and then a bark/yip after). 

Another sign, Stella liked to chase the chickens which I consistently tried to yell at her for (will help for understanding First Death).



First Chicken Death

Riley (just as shocked as I was)

Too see the videos and another explanation Click Here

The first animal I was credited to take care of and die on my watch. I was devastated. The first chicken to go was really something. Her name was Hawthorne. It was hard for me to keep the chickens in their designated fenced in area. It was night time and me or my brother let the dogs out in the backyard to pee (unsupervised). When I let them back in, I new something wasn't right. I called their names... but, they just stood there. Stella was just looking down at the ground. I walked outside to her position and saw what she was looking at. I was hysterical. Something I was suppose to take care of. Dead. We were in a backyard! Two fences for protection! and the attacker was family! I felt betrayed. I took out my phone for a flashlight. She was a little cold but not stiff. It was a recent kill. 

Under my tears I knew I had to document it. There was nothing I could do but do better next time (and as it turned out I would continue to fail). I took a video and blamed it on Stella. As it turned out it was her fault after careful review. It might be a little gross to some but, I felt like I wasn't honoring Hawthorne. She couldn't have just lived for nothing. So after that video, I took a couple more. Hawthorne was then used as an educational cadaver for yours truly. I had watched videos but knowing hands on and learning the chicken anatomy because one day I would like to raise meat birds and wanted to humanly kill them - which can be hard without experience with pressure etc.- I then did my best to use all of Hawthorne. I took the mangled pieces and set aside for my dogs. The only items good enough for human consumption... two chicken thighs. Not counting the items I set aside for a future fail bone broth. The chicken thighs I tried to bread and pan fry (they were not good, They were slimy... YUCK!). I then buried the inedible parts (feathers, skulls). I made a homemade wood stake cross with wood and twine. It was nice. I wrote her name and I message expressing my pain and dismay that it was my fault and how could I. My plan was to let the feathers decompose and feed the earth and in six months time I attempted to dig up the bones (I love bones, at one point I was really into taxidermy and I loved learning the names of the bones in science class). Sadly the bones, including the bones were gone. I couldn't find them. I was upset at that also.

The Review

-My Theory/speculation- It has turned out that the initial cause of death was a pulled tail bone, literal bone popped out. It is thought that Stella was chasing this chicken and pounced and stepped on her tail which caused it to pop out. There was also lacerations on the chickens chicken breasts. I could only think that the dogs didn't know what to do and tried to get the chicken to get up.

I reprimanded Stella. I was harsh. I was emotional unstable. Stella was visible confused and sad after that incident and never chased the chickens again. I can only assume it was an accident.

Second Death

I wasn't home for the death of Montgomery. My mom said she let the dogs out, heard squawking and went outside and saw a dead bird. My bird. I was sad but not guilty. Now I know, it was my fault. I immediately asked what she did with the bird. "I threw it away" she said. I was frantic. Threw it away?! How could she throw it away?! Just like that! Like the bird was nothing but trash! It hurt. It was my fault. I couldn't even say sorry and honor Monte. After that, I begged my mom to watch the dogs when she took them out to go to the bathroom. She refused. saying only "It is your job to contain the chickens, keep them in their coop and this won't happen". She was right, I couldn't even protect my own birds... it was my fault. Once was an accident. Twice is a coincidence but, three times? It's my fault.

Third Death

The last death I have to share is of my Elizabeth. This one is, I'd say the most troubling. I was doing something in the house and my sister called me over. She said "Riley attacked one of your chickens!". What?! Riley? I thought how could she? She's so small. It was daylight, such a sunny day. How could I have been so stupid. My sister let the dogs out and Lizzy got to close and was too curious. Riley must have felt threatened. Maybe Lizzy pecked her. What ever it was, wouldn't be good for Lizzy. 

I rushed outside and Lizzy was ALIVE. I checked her, I could have sworn I checked her. There was nothing but a tiny limp. I put her back with the rest of the chickens. Lizzy was not alright.

The next day my mom told me Lizzy didn't look to good. I went outside and saw a huge wound! I had caused damage leaving her out there! Over the next couple days maggots had already infested the wound. There was so much dead skin and meat and might have actually been a good thing the maggots were there for awhile (since they only eat dead meat and not live meat). YOU CAN SEE THE PHOTOS AND EVERYTHING I DID TO TAKE CARE OF HER HERE

Sadly after a good two weeks and three days, Queen Elizabeth the First passed away. I was devastated, not Elizabeth. She was doing so well, I blamed her death on me and my inexperience. For a time I blamed my mother also. She changed the creams and tried to dry her wounds. I however thought keeping her wound lathered with Neosporin would keep the would soft and flexible (after all I thought it was the best for healing and being dry would inhibit her hip movement). It pains me cause she could've lived. It is my moms fault but, that just means it's my fault. I knew what was best. I knew about chickens and dogs way more than she did. I should've controlled the situation. It was all on me. My fault. Three out of my Four favorite birds have died. I was worried for feisty Queen Victoria, was she next?

Sadly or thankfully, I had to sell my 5 chickens plus 3 new pullets and one duck. I miss them so much. I couldn't take them with me where I was going. I got my birds for me. I don't like eggs. I didn't get them to "use" them. I got them because I loved them. Oh, how love goes sour.

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