Calvin is not a chicken. Calvin is a dog…one of four on our farm. And, to be honest, probably my least favorite. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there is something infinitely goofy about him that just strikes me the wrong way. Bear in mind, though, that my workaholic Border Collie, Winnie, is my idea of the perfect dog.
Not to worry, he is adored and worshipped by my husband and two children.
Calvin certainly got off on the wrong foot with me shortly after we brought him home from the shelter. Used to our three other dogs totally ignoring the chickens, I didn’t give a second thought to opening the pen door. Out walked the chickens. And up galloped Calvin! Wow, what the heck were THESE things, all feathers and flighty, huh? My huge old Buff Orpington took one look at him and started running. Calvin chased. She ended up with two puncture wounds in her back as a result (she’s fine these many years later) and Calvin earned a place in the dog house.
When Calvin joined our home, he brought some new skills that the other dogs had never thought about: like jumping up on the kitchen counter and eating anything in sight. Like barking non-stop each dawn and dusk, presumably at all the ferocious creatures living in our woods. Like running away joyously each time the electric-fence collar battery dies, or, in fact, running THROUGH the shock point with not much more than a quick “Yelp!” But he does it all with great glee and abandon. That’s Calvin.
But I changed my mind–somewhat–recently about Calvin. Late one night we heard hin barking with an unusual intensity just behind our chicken pens. The kids were camping in a tent outside and were awakened by the noise. I was asleep, but even I woke up and stumbled outside to see what the fuss was all about. Calvin had cornered a raccoon on top of the netting that was preparing the slip through the netting and get into one of the coops for a nearly-midnight snack. Out patrolling for the evening, he caught the scent of the marauder and began raising cain!
We all rushed in, not sure what to do, though probably not as confused as the raccoon, snarling and hissing atop the poultry netting. The kids were yelling and rushing toward the coon, the dogs were barking like mad–the raccoon escaped. We caught him, though, and one of his buddies over the next few nights.
But more to the point, I look at Calvin with new eyes. I don’t have to like his dopey, goofy persona or his antics on the kitchen counter, but I guess that he–like most of us–has some good lurking beneath the surface. Sometimes you just have to look a little deeper. So when I get angry at him for leaping to the top of my daughter’s desk to eat her cat’s food, I try to remember that he has a job here.
And its a good one.