Tag Archives: Bailey

My dog eats a live bird (musings on animals doing what animals do)

(This originally appeared on my blog at Patheos.com in May 2016.)

Photo by Pixabay

Photo by Pixabay

My dog Bailey was just outside, just hanging out in the grass, enjoying the evening air. She’d been outside maybe ten minutes when I went out to bring her in and saw that she had something pinned to the ground…it was a bird. I called to her, she moved towards me, and the bird jumped away. Bailey went after the bird, pinned it, and let it go. It hopped, she pinned it again. When it flew up about a foot, Bailey leaped up and caught it midair.

And the race was on. I told her to drop the bird, trying not to freak out. The bird was alive, squeaking and flapping its wings. I threw Bailey’s favorite ball in the hope I could distract her long enough to throw the leash on her and get her away, but all she did was run around with the bird, periodically dropping it to yank out feathers and then grabbing it again and taking off, bird bones crunching audibly as she chewed on the run.

My god, the poor bird! I tried to chase Bailey (bad idea). She’d drop the bird, I’d call cheerily and throw the ball again, and she’d start running. I used every attention-getting trick she’d trained with, to no avail, the bird getting smaller and smaller and me getting more and more panicked as the seconds ticked by. Could the bird even be saved now? There was no blood, just feathers flying. Maybe there was still a chance.

Eventually I ran into the house, reached into the fridge, grabbed a handful of mashed potatoes, and ran outside to throw them to the dog. She came running gleefully, but only because she’d already eaten the bird.

THE WHOLE BIRD. The head, the beak, the feet, and most of the feathers. I’d love to tell you what kind of bird it was, but the only thing she didn’t eat were a few feathers and the entrails, which oddly enough were left intact in the grass.

The entire scenario, from the moment I spotted her with the live bird until the time she finally came to me? Maybe two minutes, max. Probably considerably less, although it felt like an eternity.

I called the vet. We’ve just finished more than three weeks of dogs with stomach viruses and diarrhea and antibiotics, and I have no idea what’s going to happen to all of that bird that Bailey just ingested. The vet receptionist told me that dogs usually digest that kind of stuff really well, implying that this was a common thing, dogs eating entire birds. When I asked about the head, the beak, the feet, she simply said, “Yes.” When I pressed her – my dog ate a whole bird – she offered to have the vet call me to reassure me everything would be fine.

Will it be fine? To say that I’m traumatized is an understatement. I watched a bird go from hopping and flapping one minute to feathers and entrails the next, its life taken before my eyes by the animal that I cherish. There wasn’t even any blood; just feathers and that little string of bird guts. My dog did that.

I’m horrified that Bailey didn’t listen to me. She knows these commands cold and I tempted her with her favorite things. She should have listened to me. Then again, I had nothing to offer that could match a live bird. In her mouth.

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised. A few summers ago, she and Bandit made quick work of the three tiny baby bunnies that had been living in the back yard, bunnies who made the bad choice of hopping around right under the dogs’ noses and flaunting their frailty. It took me weeks to get over the fact that my dogs killed bunnies.

Of course, I understand that this is real life, it’s nature, it’s animals doing what animals do. We have a hawk that often visits our yard; I’ve come outside to find more than one headless sparrow who couldn’t escape the clutches of a bigger, stronger predator.

But at this moment, a few pin feathers still fluttering across the grass, this is too much nature for me. When I came inside after inspecting the yard for any body parts (there were none), Bailey was guzzling down a bowl of water and panting, her tail wagging, she clearly joyful for the hunt and capture she’d just executed. I looked her in the eye and, my voice shaking, whispered, “I can’t believe you just did that.” She stopped wagging and lowered her head a bit, and as our eyes met we both realized that, despite our mutual love and deep emotional connection, she will always be a dog and I a human. She will always eat birds and I will always be traumatized by it.

I reached out to hug her. She nuzzled my neck. I stroked her head and cried.

Bailey is sound asleep at my feet as I write, but I can hear her stomach gurgling, the bird likely making it’s way through her intestines. I’m praying she doesn’t throw up, at least not before darling husband gets home. The last thing I need now is a dog barfing up a bird’s head.

Photos of Bailey and Daddy’s field trip

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David took  Bailey out today for some fresh air and exercise so Scout, Bandit and I could have a peaceful afternoon. I took Scout and Bandit for a walk to the library to return some books, and then left them home while I ran an errand. I confess: it was a relief to take those two without having to worry about Bailey home in a frenzy, and to not worry about the dogs fighting while I was gone.

Bandit’s chest is still really swollen, and I think the stress is taking its toll on Scout. So we just hung out and let everyone rest and have access to their favorite napping spots; Scout’s been blocked off from both my office and behind David’s recliner.

And while we were having a much needed, restful and tension-free day, Daddy and Bailey were having  super romp. They went to Mendon Ponds park, Ganandogan, and Hemlock Lake. I think they both needed some outdoor time; she’s never had an wildlife adventure like that.

So far, we’re still on eggshells. David has one more day of vacation, so tomorrow we’ll have another day keeping the dogs separated, and then on Wednesday  Bailey will begin boarding. We’re still checking a couple of places; I want her to be someplace where she’s not “in jail” but we also are really strained financially.

This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, dog-wise. Ranks right up there with making the decision to put Natasha to sleep after her battle with kidney failure. This time, though, Bailey is healthy and a wonderful dog with a serious challenge that makes it impossible to live with us. But she’s not impossible to live with the right home. In fact, the right home is going to be wonderful for both her and her new family.

Rehoming Bailey – knowing when it’s time to let go (with UPDATES)

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It is with a very, very heavy heart that I report that we’ve made the decision to find a new home for Bailey. It’s not because she’s a bad dog. It’s because she and Bandit are like oil and water, and it’s become very clear that they can’t live together in the same house peacefully or safely.

I’ve sat down a few times to tell the whole story of Bailey, but it’s too difficult to think about losing a member of our family, and to think about how confusing this must be for her. For now, I’ll just tell you about Bailey and what a great dog she is in the hopes that someone out there may need the loving canine companionship she can give. Continue reading

A “hydrant” kind of day

Sometimes you know the minute you roll out of bed that it’s going to be “one of those days.” This morning, I should have stayed in bed.

Not that anything tragic or horrible happened. It was just one of those dreary, frustrating days when you’re reminded that sometimes you’re the dog and sometimes you’re the hydrant.

Today, I’m feeling like a hydrant. Continue reading

It’s been a quiet week here at The Funny Farm

Oh look. Wildlife in suburbia. Isn't that special?

The last time I checked in, Scout had a bloody nose. I’m happy to report that that’s about the last excitement we’ve had here.

Well, that and the possum that was in the yard. That was pretty exciting. David took the dogs out late one night before we headed to bed, and there sitting on the top of the chicken coop was a possum. Pretty, isn’t he? I guess Bandit smelled him but never looked up so the dog’s didn’t actually see the critter. But for days they knew he was there, sniffing and following his trail.

We live in a village on a small lot; we’re literally feet from our neighbors. I have no idea what this possum was looking for or where he came from or where he’s going. Jim the dog catcher said it was probably looking for food; the chicken run is impenetrable, so he guessed this critter (and others like it) are snacking from the birdfeeders everyone has in their yards. Oh goodie. Continue reading