Since I've enjoyed reading some Roo stories from some of you, I wanted to share mine...
Yesterday was a typical Sunday afternoon for my flock. We got home from church and opened both coop doors, and let the flocks free range. We live on a deep 1-acre lot, in a suburb. To the left and right of us are similar properties, one is vacant and the other is fenced and homesteaded. Behind us is a subdivision, which is also fenced. Our property is not completely fenced, but the flock doesn't wander from our property. We usually let them range until dark, at which time they put themselves up, and we go close the doors. They get about 3 afternoons per week of free-range time.
My flock is in two groups, primarily due to lack of time for me to build a larger single coop. The first group is 5 hens of various breeds. The other group is 6 hens (2 Australorps, 2 Bantam Cochins, and 2 Silkies) and 1 Silky Roo, named Mister. I got the hens in that group for free and added Mister to them later. He has taken well to them and has just produced 4 chicks, which just hatched last week. It's been fun to watch 'em hang out and do their thing.
My daughters and I were busy pulling the babies from the coop and bringing them to our homemade brooder, on our screened porch. I was enjoying watching my girls give the new chicks a lot of attention. They truly love them. After about an hour or so, I was inside, looking out the back windows, and noticed one of the backdoor neighbor's dogs, running around the yard. As I darted for the door, I saw 2 more dogs, one of which had one of the birds. 2 of the dogs are retrievers and the 3rd looked like an older boxer-like dog, white in color, which could even be mistaken for a pit bull. I ran to the back of the property, chasing them along the property line. I realized they had Mister (the Roo) in their jaw, trying to carry him away. As I got close enough, they dropped him and kept running. One of the retrievers made it over the fence and the other one ran back towards the front of my property. The white boxer, however, didn't make it over and just stood near the fence where the other had crossed. As I walked closer to him, I noticed lots of gray feathers along the path, which were NOT Mister's feathers. They belonged to one of the Silky hens, Pepper. When I saw that, I got really concerned, so I kept walking along the path, expecting to find a dead Pepper. I got closer to the white boxer, and it started growling at me. I had my 9mm with me, but I didn't engage the dog, so there was no need to do what I felt like doing. Eventually, all the dogs made it back over their fence, so I continued my search for chickens.
I went back to my property, to find my wife and my oldest daughter, age 7, gathering up the hens. Fortunately, all hens were accounted for and safe. I found Pepper, the Silky Hen, and took a good look at her. She was clearly a victim of the dogs, as there were a lot of feather missing from her neck area. Later, I deduced that because 2 of the dogs were retrievers, they were likely just carrying the hens without necessarily intending to hurt them, at least not right away. During the attempted abduction, it's very possible that Pepper was doing a lot of flapping a squawking, which is why lots of feathers can be found along the path where I saw them.
So, the hens are fine, but there is not a single sign that Mister is OK. I went back to where I saw him after the dogs dropped him. Nothing. I covered that area, climbed over downed trees, traversed an old dried-up pond full of tree stumps, and walked around the neighboring vacant property. I called for him, whistled for him, made whatever noise I thought would get his attention. No sign of him, whatsoever. Wow, talk about devastation. It's amazing how attached to this little man I'd become.
I talk to my wife and my next door neighbor, to give 'em an update. Then, I walked back to the rear property line, to see if I could see the owner of the dogs. They happened to just be getting home, so I called for them to talk. I've talked with the husband on several occasions, but not his wife, who is the one that came back to talk to me. I let her know what happened, and she felt very bad. She said that she would tell her husband about it, and that he would work on fixing the hold in the fence where they got through. I also told her that the white boxer growled at me and it stood a chance of getting shot, if he would have charged at me. She let me know it was not their dog, but a guest's dog. She was very sorry and apologized. I asked her to please be looking for the rooster, since I hadn't found any other evidence of him disappearing, and asked that she would just let me know if they find him, so I could let my mind rest knowing if he was actually dead.
After my extensive searching, I figured it was time to break the news to my wife and daughters. It was tough, as my girls LOVE all their animals, even the little guppies that have pretty short life spans. So, many tears were shed and we prayed together a few times. It was tough. I immediately started talking about getting another Roo, but my wife said she didn't really want another one, she wanted Mister. *sniff sniff*
I took a break and got my 4-month-old baby and went back out on the patio to relax a little. I kept staring into the backyard, especially in the area where the dogs had come from. I was just hoping and dreaming that Mister would show up, as if nothing even happened, but it was just empty gazing. I had made a few Facebook posts about the events of the day, and had just responded to one of my friends asking what "KIA" stands for. My earlier post mentioned how Mister was probably KIA from the dog attack. What a hero he was, giving up his life, to save one of the girls. [insert spiritual parallel here]
Not 30 seconds after I responded to my friend on Facebook, I look out in the yard, and guess who comes hopping out from the woods... MISTER!!!!! I ran back inside, nearly throwing my baby on our bed (gently, of course) and yelled to my wife that Mister was back. My other 2 daughters were already in the backyard, but they didn't see him. I ran back to where he was, slowing down a little so as not to startle him. He did get a little turned around, but eventually made it back to his group. He wouldn't let me get too close, but he looked as if nothing happened to him. I didn't notice any blood, scratches, or missing feathers. I was speechless. I could do nothing but laugh with tears! I had written off the little guy. Man, what a fighter!!
This is Mister, in the middle of the picture. Pepper is on the left.
Here's a pic of Mister from when we first got him. He's a handsome fella, huh?