Sunday, July 12, 2015

Me vs. (some) Dogs

For those who would like to have more things to hate me for, I have a confession: I am a dog killer.

Or, I have been.

So, how can I hold dog-killing cops in contempt if I'm no better than them?

Well, I am better than them; I never killed a dog in its own territory while I was trespassing, but only at my house. And, always in defense of my property.

When I was younger I always had chickens, pheasants, quail, doves, and rabbits in my yard. In a fenced in area, or in pens and cages. I lost a lot of them to neighbors' dogs, who would run in a pack at night, come to my yard, climb over (or under) the fence, tear open the cages, and kill my animals.

That doesn't sit well with me. My animals are my responsibility to protect, and I take that seriously.

But, at first I was nice. I told the neighbors what had happened and asked them to keep their dogs out of my yard. The response I got several times: "That's your problem."

OK, so if it is my problem, I will solve it myself. And I did. One .22 hollowpoint at a time.

It was a short-term solution, as the neighbors would get a replacement as soon as "Fluffy" stopped coming home. One thing I noticed is these dogs weren't loved. Every one of them was so covered in ticks (and fleas) you couldn't see any skin on their faces- they were just an object to their owners, which made me sad even as I shot them.

The permanent solution was so simple I wish I had discovered it years earlier: Wild turkeys.

A friend gave me some 2nd generation wild turkeys her uncle had hatched out. I put them in a pen that adjoined my chicken pen- and I never lost another critter to dogs.

The turkeys were mean. When I went in their pen I had to wear a heavy coat, make sure my hat protected the back of my neck, and carry a shovel for protection. And I still got flogged. In fact, I had to reinforce the wire of the pen near the door to the chicken pen because the tom would attack the wire each time I went in to do any chicken work, and he was ripping the wire.

But I never had to shoot another dog in protection of my livestock again, and that made me happy.

Later, though, I almost shot another neighbor's dog- this time in defense of my older daughter.

She was about 4 years old, playing in the yard, when she started to scream. A neighbor's black lab had her cornered and was barking aggressively at her. I grabbed some rocks and rushed the dog pelting him and yelling. He ran and I chased him home. His owner was outside and started cussing me for chasing his dog. I told him his dog was in my yard, threatening my daughter- and to keep it out of my yard. He said he didn't believe in keeping dogs penned or chained, because it was like his child. I told him my daughter IS my child, and if his dog doesn't stay out of my yard I would shoot it. I also let him know it wasn't the first trouble I had experienced with his dog- it had ripped up a couple of deerskins I was tanning, and my patience was used up.

Somehow the guy managed to find a way to keep the dog out of my yard- or I had scared it enough it didn't come back. Later the guy was complaining to me that the painters working at the restaurant next door to his cabin had pained his dog red. I was thinking if he kept his dog home he wouldn't have had that problem either.

Notice, that neither I nor the dog owners grovelled for the state to step in and solve our problem. I wonder if it would go the same way today.

So that's my confession.