Humility is a funny thing. It’s not something anyone volunteers to experience, yet it’s vital to becoming a better human. The process of becoming humble on the farm has been especially eye opening - and important for me.
Last week I wrote a column about our Boxer mix puppy, Winnie, who has a high prey drive toward fowl. I’ve been working with her and had seen some encouraging signs that appeared to be a direct result of the training. I was feeling pretty proud of both of us.
Then, yesterday while inside getting ready for the day, I heard a loud squawking outside. Looking out the window, I saw Winnie running with our little bantam hen in her mouth. The chicken was flapping her wings in a desperate attempt to free herself, with the three other dogs in hot pursuit. The only thing louder than the commotion they made was the yelling coming from me: “Leave it!” “Bad dog!” “Mine!”
Thankfully Winnie lost hold of the chicken and I got her back inside and in her crate while I calmed down and gained some perspective. It took close to an hour before I was ready to put her on a leash and take her back outside. While the bantam, who I’m thankful to say seemed physically unharmed, was in hiding, we were able to get close enough to other chickens for me to reinforce the positive behavior I was looking for.
Even before yesterday’s incident, I had begun looking at another tool that could potentially help as I seek to better understand and train her. One of our sons gave me a DNA test kit for Winnie for my birthday. I’m such a dog person that it was a very welcome gift. My hope is that knowing the other breeds that make up my sweet, but rascal of a dog will give me helpful insight into the best methods for training her.
As much as I hated what happened yesterday, it was a good reminder that we are all in process, Winnie and me included. I’ll watch more videos, consider the DNA information and spend more time training her before giving her the off leash freedom she so desperately wants. We’ll keep plugging along, three steps forward and one step (sometimes two) back. But hey, at least we’re moving in the right direction.
This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, in the June 17, 2023 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.