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Apparently I Am Not The Only One Around Here With Chickens
So I usually do something with the dog around lunchtime -- take him for an extra walk, do some training, play in the backyard a bit. Today I took him out front with the long line to practice recall some. We walked out the door, and immediately he was off across the yard after something -- a chicken! Not one of my chickens.

I put a loop in the line to tie him closer to the mailbox and went to collect the chicken. She was pretty docile, easy to catch and content to be held. Then I carried her around to the nearest neighbors who were outdoors, seeing if anybody knew where she belonged.

The guy across the street had no idea, and the neighbor next door doesn't speak much English, but once she went to get her friend and the friend explained what I was saying, she seemed pretty sure it belonged to the next people behind them (the new neighbors, with the little yappy dog). They weren't home, so she found a basket and we left the chicken under the basket on the steps. I hope they get home soon, because she seems like a nice bird and it's probably not very comfortable in the basket. If she's still there when I get back from my doctor's appointment I may put her in our backyard and leave them a note.

The irony here, of course, is that if her home has been correctly identified, she's living in the house that we very carefully designed the chicken coop to remain at least 25 feet away from, since it was unoccupied at the time so we couldn't get the residents' permission to keep chickens closer than the legal limit....

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useful knowledge for later

Did he try to eat the chicken, or did he act like he does with yours? (And how did they design their coop? So you know what to avoid...)

Re: useful knowledge for later

Did he try to eat the chicken, or did he act like he does with yours?

That's not really an "or" question. I'm not sure he realized what it was any faster than I did -- it was more of a "Hey! A moving thing! Gotta go see what it is!" than anything else.

We don't let him get close enough to the chickens to see whether he'd try to eat them or not. He's clearly interested in them, and any kind of interest is dangerous for the chickens. Even if he thinks he's playing (as with another dog, not as with a toy -- and I expect he'd try more for as with a toy) he could do them a serious hurt. But he has been known to lick his lips while in the chickens' vicinity, and that is what we call Not Such A Good Sign.

On the other hand, he does seem to be aware that we do not want him to eat, startle, or otherwise molest the chickens. Lately we've had some scenes like this (warning: all dog behavior may be misinterpreted):

Human: ::opens cage door, meddles with chickens::
Chickens: ::FLAP FLAP FLAP!!::
Dog: ::runs in:: What?! What's that flapping -- ::face falls:: Oh. It's you. ::sigh:: Nothing is going to happen here except you're going to wave that flappy thing around and not let me have any. FINE. I do not have SUBJECT MYSELF to this. I will go LIE DOWN somewhere ELSE. ::dog goes away::

(He does this with dinner too. We taught him to go settle down on the nearby rug for treats, rather than pestering us; these days he usually goes to the rug and collects a treat, then slopes off into another room. I have two theories:
1. He dislikes being subjected to temptation and expected to restrain himself, so he deliberately goes somewhere where he can't see us eating.
2. He knows he's not going to get food at the table, and we haven't been very good about rewarding him for continuing to lie on the rug, so once he's sure we're eating dinner and not doing something he might find interesting, he goes to lie down somewhere more comfortable.
Honestly 2 seems more likely, but 1 is really tempting.
Also he lurked around begging today, so we should probably put some more effort into reinforcing that go away and leave us alone behavior.)

I do not know how they designed their coop. I am not 100% certain that they have one, actually; she may just live loose in the yard. We don't share enough language to talk about it.

Did you get confirmation that it was in fact their chicken?

The image of coming home to a random chicken under a basket is.... hillariously random.

Yes -- she was still under the basket when I got home from the doctor, so I retrieved her and put her in the broken dog crate over here with some water (and left a note, in both English and Spanish versions). Later, her owner came over and fetched her. So all is well.

Also, happy birthday. :)

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