I stared at my destroyed garden with a sinking feeling. Haley, my Doberman, scanned the destruction with arched eyebrows. "Looks like I'll have to try again and hope for a long summer," I told her. "Somebody needs to learn to shut the gate." She sneezed her agreement. "Let's go for a walk." I turned my back to the horror of congealed manure mixed with mud. "I need to find a bright spot in this day." With ears alert, Haley escorted me through the woods. As the early summer sun melted my anger, I began to plan my garden. The scent of pine needles soothed my disappointment and my feet crunched onward. My mind was far away when Haley paused with one foot raised. I saw the ridge of black hair rise along her back, and rested my fingers on the leather sheath of my knife. "What is it girl?" I stopped in my tracks and gathered my wits. Haley focused on a thorn bush a short distance away. There was a rustle and a squeak. Haley growled and pressed her ribs against my legs. Silently chastising myself for not bringing the shotgun, I carefully unsnapped the leather sheath covering my knife. A strange squeal met my ears and the tiny hairs along my neck rose. "Must be a rabbit getting eaten by a snake," I told Haley. "Let's go." I started to turn away when a familiar trilling noise came from within the thorn bush. I paused as did Haley who raised her ears in curiosity. Thick green leaves moved about on the bush and amidst the thorns a tiny eye peeked at us. "What the...?" Hitching up my jeans, I squatted down to get a better look. "Oh my! That's a chicken!" Haley sat down with head cocked to one side. I wiped the sweat from my brow. Sure enough I saw the comb just behind that tiny eye. "Chick, chick, chick," I warbled and Haley flattened her ears in embarrassment. Incredibly, a tiny crow burst from the leaves. Haley chuffed her amazement while I blinked in surprise. "It's a rooster!" I said to the Doberman and she flexed her brows at me. I began to cluck softly like a chicken, and although Haley was thoroughly embarrassed by my display, the tiny rooster eased into view. As ragged as his feathers were from his life as a vagrant, he had a regal bearing only a bantam could have in such a situation. Round white earlobes seemed to mock the greenish sheen of his black feathers. I watched in amazement as the diminutive bird stood as erect as he could, inhaled deeply, and shouted forth the most comical crow I ever heard in my life. He crowed so hard his rose comb nearly fell off his head. I managed to suppress my laughter and clucked back at him. He clucked in return and strutted about. Haley watched this display in utter embarrassment. She squinted her eyes and lowered her ears as if to shut out the awkward display going on in front of her. I reached in my shirt pocket for the pack of crackers I carried and tore it open. The tiny chicken watched me toss crumbs toward him and cackled excitedly. Talking the entire time, the rooster ate his meal. As he ate, he tossed morsels about just in case a hen was nearby. I clucked and cackled back at him which he seemed to enjoy. He went into full strut, tripped over a stick - acted like he did it on purpose - and continued to strut and crow. Haley lay down and put her paws over her ears. Then the bantam changed his stance. He stopped moving and looked me directly in the eye. "Oh, so you are challenging me?" I queried with a smile. The rooster began to preen his midsection, stretching one leg then another. "Are you putting on your pants?" I asked him and Haley raised her head. He flapped his wings and crowed. "Well, I have to go home and start another garden," I told him and started walking. Haley jumped up and escorted me with an eye on the feathered miniature on the ground. The rooster cackled in a panic. I paused and he began putting on his pants. "All right, Mr. Bantypants, you can come, too. But, I warn you, my ladies are twice your size, my two roosters are research rescues with poor eyesight." I said and watched how those tiny eyes watched me. "I'll let you be a rooster, but you attack me, and it's the hatchet for you. Understand?" Mr. Bantypants squeaked his answer, flapped his wings, and followed me home.