Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Chicken

Today, I might've sunk to a new low in the role of pet owner. I sewed up a chicken. Not a live chicken mind you. No, a much beloved toy of our oldest chocolate Lab, Smokey. Dog toys come and go but none have stayed around as long as "The Chicken". When brand new, The Chicken crowed three times, wiggled and tried to cross the floor. To activate it all, you had to find the switch....which was located in the chicken's butt. Smokey didn't care about the wiggling and moving, he just liked to hear the thing crow. Sometimes he'd sit there and hit that button in quick succession, as if telegraphing every chicken in the neighborhood that our house was not a safe place to be if you crowed or cackled.

You've seen a picture of The Chicken before, lying face to face with Smokey's kid Boudreaux as if the two are having a conversation. The one in surgery this morning was not the original. Actually, I've repaired 2 of them, who are Chickens #3 and #4 respectively. The first one I threw in the trash a few years back, not knowing Smokey was there. It no longer crowded and I hated to see him just gnaw on the back of it as if determination alone would bring it back to life. Ten minutes later, it was back on the floor, Smokey glaring at me as if I'd sinned. When there was no hope for #1 and #2, I tossed them in the trash when he was outside. He looked for them for a while, glancing at me with a knowing look of grimness. And yes, I felt guilty.

I patched up the last 2 this morning because they are....the last two. I'd purchased them from a discount store who'd bought in bulk and evidently they were discontinued back then. I even looked online. Hey, it's difficult to ignore the big sad eyes of a dog who brings you a toy as if to say, "Look, you walk upright and can drive a car. Why can't you make this rooster crow?"

And so I sat this morning, sewing them back together. Feeling slightly stupid. Okay, I laughed out loud. I hate to sew. Putting buttons back on is my limit of expertise. I had two grandmothers who couldn't understand why I wouldn't sew, yet would do needlepoint. Maybe if they'd seen the skirt I'd made in Home Ec, they would've left me alone. [I'm short, it was the era of the mini skirt and the material was so stiff it looked like a barrel and literally could stand on the table by itself. ] But piecing The Chicken back together wasn't that hard. The crowing parts have long since been removed as I feared Smokey would get so agitated he'd rip that bird apart trying to find out where the crow had gone.

My husband came in to ask a question, took one look at me and burst out laughing. You know the kind that makes your body shake, tears run out of your eyes and the phrase, "You've got to be kidding!" come out of your mouth. I laughed with him, telling him I was trying to keep the chickens in the neighborhood safe. We have chicken houses just down the road from us and I often envision Smokey sitting outside, waiting for escapees to bite in the butt to see if they make the same sound. So far, I guess they haven't because he hasn't brought any home that can actually fly. Boudreaux has, but that's another story.

Hubby declared that he knew where HE was on the hierarchy because he had a shirt and a pair of pants needing buttons put back on. Telling him I wasn't psychic, I asked him to bring said garments to me while I had needle in hand. I took care of his stuff, then went back to the last chicken. As I laughed, wondering why on earth I was doing something so stupid to a TOY that was broken and ripped, it hit me. No matter how many times Smokey lays there on the floor, patiently nibbling at that chicken from one end to the other trying to make it crow, he never gives up. He lives in hope that if he hits it just right, The Chicken will do what he wants. That dog has more patience than I do. The fact he truly believes I can make it better, shows a faith stronger in me than I often have in myself.

So I decided to be his Fairy Godmother and help The Chicken to live a little while longer. Smokey will soon be 10 years old. I hate to think of the day when he is with us no more. He curls up on the couch and keeps my feet warm on cold winter nights. Nudges me in thanks for whatever it is I do that makes him happy. He always has time for me, listens to my whining without leaving the room and sits with me if I get up sick in the middle of the night so I don't have to feel bad alone. I think sewing up a beloved toy is the least I can do for my buddy.

And unlike humans, I know he'll nudge me in thanks as soon as he sees The Chicken is back to play.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

Your story reminded me of the cats we had in VT. We had purchased some wind up mice for them. Wind them up, the mice run around the cats chase and catch them. When they stop moving bring them back to us and we wind them up and off the go again. Well, once outside they discovered deer mice. The cats loved to play with them and rarely (yes, rarely) hurt them. They would catch them, play with them, let them go, recatch them...but every once in awhile they would get too rough and a little mouse would lose it's life. The cats would then bring it to one of us, drop it at our feet, and wait for us to rewind it again. They could never understand why these 'special' toys found their way to the outside trash and why we couldn just reactivate them like the other 'toys'.