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Blondie

by Ollie
(NZ)

On the swing

On the swing

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier owned by a builder our neighbors had hired broke into our yard and killed my favorite and our most affectionate hen, Blondie, and wounded two others - Laurel and Audrey.

Audrey should recover, but we aren't sure if Laurel will survive given the severity of her wound - a pretty deep bite - though the vet has given us some antibiotics and pain relief so we are full of hope.

The other two girls in the coop - Penny and Gloria - weren't hurt, but are quite shaken. I am hoping they become a bit less scared over time.

There were two chicken wire fences between the dog and the hens, but they were no match for it.

Blondie was only one and a half years old, the same age as the four other ladies hatched at the beginning of 2020. I don't quite remember her breed, but she was bright white with some red-y feathers on her breast and green feet. They had all had only one laying season, and were molting.

When we came into the coop, it was carnage. Feathers everywhere, scared and injured chickens, broken fences. I am so deflated and empty. I just can't believe this has happened. I am glad that we didn't lose the whole flock, but so sad to have lost my favorite. I knew hens didn't live too long in any case, but she was never supposed to go like this.

Blondie was the kindest chicken, and would always be the first to run up to the fence to check if you had snacks for her - very curious. She loved being stroked and picked up, and she could use a swing by herself too. She was very nice to carry - so relaxed that she would just put her head down and close her eyes, at peace and happy to get a free ride somewhere. You could hear her egg song from a long way away - she wanted everyone to know!

Blondie was really an independent chicken who did her own thing - neither top nor bottom of the pecking order, she didn't really care what the other hens thought of what she did.

I held her in the palm of my hand as a chick, and watched her grow up into a delightful bird.

I found her body in the neighbor's yard - it was intact thankfully, but not in good condition at all.

It is very distressing to think of how her last moments were. I can only hope she went quickly and try to avoid thinking too much about it.

I am glad to have had good support from friends and family about this, and am very glad to not have heard that she was "just a chicken" yet.

I'm sure anyone else who has gone through this has felt all the stages of grief - among them anger at the dog, then at the dog owner, then sadness at the life lost, then wondering if you could have done anything more. Ultimately what has happened has happened, but it was very hard to go through.

Standing in the rain today, trying to feed the other two injured chickens their medicine was difficult and felt very futile (though we did manage eventually - I hope they will be ok in the end). It is going to be a long week.

My plea for dog owners would be please, please, please make sure you keep your dogs controlled, particularly aggressive breeds - and don't let them loose in unfamiliar places where they are hard to control and you don't know how well contained they are. So much damage caused in such little time.

I never anticipated getting quite so attached to our hens. Much love to anyone else who goes through the loss of injury of a beloved bird, it is an awful experience I don't want to have again.


We are going to plant something nice to remember her by.

Comments for Blondie

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Update
by: Ollie

Hi Marcia,

Thank you for your kind words (and you too, Cath! I missed saying that at the time).


I confronted the owner when I retrieved the body. He apologized, had already taken the dog away, and offered to pay to "replace" her - good intentions I suppose, but obviously not something that brought me any comfort.

At some point we may try to get payment for vet bills for the other two hens from him, but it's not a priority.

We did contact animal control, who are the people who deal with this kind of thing here. They took some notes and photos and talked to both sides, then said they would prepare a report. I believe he has been fined, though I am not certain - we haven't heard a whole lot since, beyond one phone call.


An update on the two hurt hens is that they are both regrowing some tail feathers, which is great to see. Yesterday I saw Laurel climbing a tree, so it's safe to say they're back to their normal selves.


Cheers,
Ollie.

Blondie
by: Marcia Hamilton

What a horror you and your pets had to go through and I'm so sorry about your loss.

Did you ever confront the owner of the dog? If you did, how did he react?

It's going to take a lot of time to recover, both you and your pets, but hang in there. I also think I might have called the police to let them know what happened.

The owner should be fined and made to make restitution for what his dog did.

Be well and know we're thinking of you.

Update
by: Ollie

Hi Cath and any other readers.

Thanks for approving the post - it'll be nice to look back in memory.

An update on Laurel and Audrey is that they have recovered well and are happily growing back their feathers (though Laurel will probably never grow back some of her tail feathers) - we're glad.

If anyone can't figure out how to get antibiotics into a hen easily, we had success with mixing the medicine into shredded cheese!

All the best with your flocks.

Cheers,
Ollie.

A lovely tribute.
by: Cath

Oh Ollie, I am so terribly sad to hear of your loss in such an awful way. What a lovely tribute you have written.

We all do our best for our chickens, and it's very hard when they die. To know they've died in these circumstances can make us feel we didn't do enough - just as you've been feeling.

But we need to remember that while they were with us, our chickens have the best life possible. They're loved and cared for, and that's not something to be taken lightly.

I'm glad you have had support from family and friends. I know just how devastating this can be. I do so hope your other girls were able to survive.

Thinking of you, and sending hugs across the world.

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