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Which came first, the chicken or the dog?

An impulsive purchase of tiny chicks leads to an unlikely friendship.

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There are drawbacks to keeping chickens in the kitchen.

We learned this firsthand a couple of years ago when, in a moment of weakness, I was beguiled by three little balls of fluff at the feed store. I'd always wanted to raise chickens, and although my husband was amenable to the idea, we'd talked it over and agreed that we'd wait until after our boys were grown. One project at a time, as it were.

But here I was and there they were, as cute as only 2-day-old chicks can be – and on sale to boot.

Who can resist chicken on sale? I returned home with my bargain-basement poultry, and a "whole lot of 'splaining to do," as Ricky Ricardo would say. Fortunately, my husband found the trio of chicks just as irresistible as I did, and our misadventures in urban farming were launched.

The one thing we hadn't counted on was our dog. Bonnie is a Shetland sheepdog, a herding breed rather than a hunting breed, which is a good thing if one plans to raise chickens. For the first six weeks of their lives, our wee charges were kept in an old rabbit cage in a warm corner of the kitchen, where Bonnie held patient vigil. She'd sit in front of that cage for hours, tracking every peep and flutter. We dubbed it "watching Chicken TV."

If Bonnie was fascinated by her new pets, they were equally fascinated by her, particularly the littlest chicken, whom we named Pixie. Perhaps it's because she was similar in coloring to our dog, but Pixie clearly thought Bonnie was her mother.


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