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Brave Pioneer Woman December 13, 2007

Posted by Laura in Farm.

Out here on the frontier (well, rural TN anyway), a lady’s got to be tough and courageous. Ready to take up arms and defend what’s near and dear to her. And that’s just what happened yesterday.

Joe was on a cattle drive (okay, he was working on someone’s computer network, but that just doesn’t fit in my story very well). Usually, when he’s on a trip, a major appliance or utility breaks. This time, I was up against a much more sinister enemy. (Are you getting goosebumps?).

As I was fixing up a mess of vittles, I spied a critter slinking around the tool shed. I went out and began yelling at the dog who was surveying the chicken buffet ambling around the yard. It was unimpressed with my ferocity. I threw sticks at it but it just watched them whiz by from the cover of the tractor. As I approached and tried to wow it with my double arsenal of yelling AND throwing sticks, it began to growl at me. I called our dogs to tear it to pieces forthwith.

Lucy and Daisy have scared many a visitor and delivery guy, but they just haven’t read the memo about chasing off others of their own kind. When they even notice a trespassing canine, they just run up and greet it, tails wagging. I yell, “Get him, girls!” and they try to engage the would-be predator in a game of tag.

Since the crazy dog didn’t know our dogs wouldn’t tear it limb from limb, I called them. I think they must have been off hunting antlers or something, because they didn’t appear.

What to do, what to do…

I called Joe. The conversation began with “What kind of bullets are in the pistol?” That kind of greeting always seems to get his attention. “Ratshot?” I asked hopefully. “No, the kind that leaves a big hole. Why?” was the concerned reply. I explained the problem.

Now, I hate guns, but I have learned a thing or two since we’ve lived here. One of the facts I’ve faced up to is that once a dog begins to dine on our chickens, we’ll never break it of that habit. This dog concerned me a lot more than most. All other dogs I’ve encountered will run if chased and yelled at. This one was standing its ground and growling back. Not a good sign. And I was all alone to deal with it.

I tried to think through other options. I don’t even like to hold that gun, much less shoot it. And knowing it had hollow points in it did not encourage me. By phone, Joe insisted I use it.

So, with phone in one hand and 15 pound pistol in the other, I walked back down to the toolshed. The dog was just where I’d left it.

I threw some more sticks.

I’d tucked the gun into my jeans’ pocket, but my pants were sliding down my hips under the weight of that monster pistol. Joe was meanwhile telling me that the dog would wipe out our flock, it was quite possibly rabid by its behavior, that it wouldn’t be safe for the kids to play outside, and so on. I was hemming and hawing and willing the dog to run far away. To no avail. Joe insisted I shoot.

I gave up arguing, but since the usual ratshot wasn’t in it, I wouldn’t try to hit the dog- just scare it away. I said I needed to concentrate and I’d call back in a minute. He told me to be ready for the dog to charge me and to prepare myself to shoot it. Oh, great!

I cocked the gun, aimed carefully about 10 feet away from the dog, (the tractor, the fence, the concrete, the cows, and the long list of everything else). With shaky hands, I fired. Gunpowder burned my hand and the sound nearly deafened me. “Surely that did it,” I thought. But no! He only moved off about 15 feet and then stared defiantly at me! I called Joe back.

“You have to kill it. There is something really wrong with it if being shot at didn’t scare it away,” he said. “You have no choice.”

I held the blackened pistol in both hands… and lowered it. I couldn’t do it.

We’ve been eating game Joe has hunted and chickens we’ve raised for quite some time now. I know that God gave us supremacy over the animals, that He even required their slaughter for sacrifices. I have gotten over my qualms about eating meat that came from animals I knew in life. But I have yet to get to the point where I am the one who visits death upon another creature. I am so grateful to have a husband who takes care of such things.

I couldn’t just leave the dog to do as he wished, though. I came up with an alternate plan. I’d call a friend, a church elder who is retired and had come to my rescue when a pipe burst on another of Joe’s trips. Bless him, he came right over. He managed to get the dog into the bed of his truck and drove away with it. I don’t need to know anymore.

So, brave pioneer woman I am not. Not yet, anyway.




1. Marci - December 13, 2007

I hate it when things like that happen. I am glad you had someone you could call to come and help you. How did he get the dog into his truck?

2. chickenmama - December 13, 2007

Good question. He had called to it and it alternately came forward and backed up. I was going up to the house to get some dog food when he called back that he’d gotten it in, so I didn’t actually see how he managed to do it. He said he didn’t think it was rabid, just very hungry. It had a collar on and a piece of frayed baling twine tied to it. I suspect it was tied up and nearly starved somewhere before it chewed itself free. I can’t blame the poor thing for wanting a free meal, but he just can’t have it here.

3. Amy - December 13, 2007

If it’s any consolation, I couldn’t have done either. Just as I suspected the dog was very hungry, that’s why you couldn’t scare it off. I’m such a sucker, I probably would have fed it and ended up with another dog.

4. Grams - December 14, 2007

It would be hard for me to pull that trigger, too.
Afraid I’d just shoot his eye out, Red Ryder or not.
You had a good solution.
Bake the man one of your superb pecan pies.

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