So to continue HOSS’ story, he did not live in his kennel 24/7… that would be cruel. I hate seeing animals living in pens or on chains! Still, I could not leave him in with the goats once he decided that dragging them around by their neck like a chew toy might be FUN!!! So we purchased a large kennel at TSC and that’s where HOSS lived during the day when we were not at home. At night, every night, the goats were secured into their kennel and HOSS was let out into the goat yard to “stand guard” until morning. The goat yard is bigger than most Suburban backyards, so there’s lots of room in there. We frequently hear coyotes howling and have seen them up behind the goat yard in the vacant property next to ours! He might not be a Livestock Guardian, but I was always hoping his presence would discourage their coming after our goats. So far, we’ve been very lucky!
A couple years ago, we did start having serious problems out in the “back 40” with feral pigs. That’s a whole story in itself, but it ties into HOSS’ story because it was during this time that we discovered he’s a chicken killer – a trait that usually comes with a death sentence out in the country! On this particular day, we were heading down to San Angelo, but would be back before dinner. As usual, HOSS was transferred from the goat yard (were he spent the night) into his kennel. I must note here that his kennel had only a flip latch on it and NO hook or pin to lock it. I let the chickens out of their coop/run to free range during the day. When we came home from San Angelo, HOSS greeted us at the driveway gate!!! I knew in that instant that my chickens would be dead.
It’s been a couple years since that fateful day and still this is hard to write! Our very first two hens were a pair of Rhode Island Red hens that had been “Easter Chicks” for a friend’s young daughter. They were very tame, sweet and quite spoiled! Shortly after getting them, we got our first chicks. They were a mix of Buff Orpington and Silver Laced Wyandotte. Neither of us had ever raised chicks before, so it was a really fun experience. We handled the chicks all the time and they truly were PETS. We intentionally didn’t get a straight-run which would most likely contain at least half boys. We were lucky that ALL of ours were girls! You don’t need a rooster to have eggs – that’s a biological fact! You only need a rooster if you want BABIES and we didn’t want a rooster to start off with.
So on this day, HOSS was in his kennel, the chickens were out of the coop and we were away for the whole day. Because we were away, we can only guess at what happened. We suspect that when our friends came to check the pig trap that as they left HOSS got excited and jumped up against the gate of his kennel a few times… at some point he must have hit it just right and popped the latch up, thereby letting himself OUT. He probably explored around for a while, but eventually got bored and so played catch with all the hens!!! He didn’t “eat” them or tear them up, they were all just found dead where he had caught them… Troy wanted to shoot HOSS right then and there, but I intervened because it “wasn’t HOSS’ fault”! After burying the hens and getting a lock for the kennel’s latch, I said we just wouldn’t have chickens again. That actually lasted about a year! Our second batch of chicks were purchased locally and they stay in their coop much more than our first group did.
However, HOSS still never came inside. Not because he wasn’t allowed, but because the very thought of going inside terrified him! He was only ever “locked” into his large kennel/run when we weren’t home. Since I wasn’t working, I was almost always home and so HOSS was very rarely IN his kennel. He absolutely loves being in the garden supervising me while I’m hanging out laundry or weeding. Often I would leave the door open to the laundry/mud room because I was coming in and out so frequently. HOSS would not even step foot into the back room, much less the house. You could stand at the door, with it wide open and say, “HOSS, ya wanna come in, boy?” and he would tuck his tail and run full out around the back of the goat yard and into his kennel as if the devil himself was chasing him!
Recently, I “forced” HOSS to come inside by literally grabbing his collar and bringing him in. He sat by my chair and vibrated because he was shaking so hard! He was very antsy and couldn’t wait to go back outside! I did this a couple times, each time he was slightly more relaxed than the time before. Then one weekend my parents were over visiting and had gone inside. HOSS absolutely loves my parents! So I wend and got him out of the kennel and asked if he wanted to go inside. He wasn’t really sure at first, but I said, “Nana and Papa are inside, come get Nana and Papa”!!! Well that was it, he practically pushed me aside in his hurry to get in the door to his Nana and Papa! After a little while, the other dogs wanted out and so HOSS went out onto the stoop, too, but he didn’t really want to be out, so I let him back in. Then I said, “do you want out?” and he went out again. So then we played the in and out game a dozen times and he thought it was the neatest thing in the world!!! Now he WANTS to be inside and here’s proof: