(Author’s note: I wish I could say no chickens were harmed in the writing of this essay, but that would be a flat-footed lie.)
The phone call came while I was eating a big plate of boiled okra and fried pork chops, smothered in gravy, at Alma Jean’s Southern Kitchen in Senatobia, Mississippi. The voice on the line courteously said, “Mr. Patterson?” To which I replied, “Yes,sir.”
“This is the Police Chief here in Como, and we’ve got a problem. Your bird dog, Chicken has lived up to her name,” he said with a slight laugh. “She’s got loose and killed some chickens at a fella’s house down on Sycamore St. And I can’t catch her!”
“I’ll be right there,” I said. “How many did she kill?”
“I don’t really know, but it looks like a pretty big pile. She piled them up all neat-like, up under the man’s wisteria arbor.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it. I’ll make it right by the man and will be there in a few minutes,” I assured the chief.
When I arrived, my bird dog “Chicken“ was nowhere in sight, but the pile of dead chickens were neatly stacked, just as the Chief had reported.
I began calling “Chicken!” and she immediately came running, her tail wagging in joy and her eyes seeking approval for her dastardly deed. I put her in the truck and apprehensively and apologetically approached the big man on the back porch, who was the obvious owner of the recently departed chickens.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, as I reached my hand out to introduce myself to the gentleman. “I’ll be happy to pay you for the chickens you lost and promise it won’t happen again.”
“Oh, that won’t be necessary. I needed to thin out my flock a little anyway,“ he said with a grin. “That dog of yours is a precision killer. I actually kinda enjoyed watching her. She would lock up in a beautiful steady point, then almost hypnotize the chicken and patiently wait for the bird to attempt escape before pouncing. She actually caught a couple in mid-air, 3 or 4 feet off the ground!” he laughed.
I said my goodbyes, apologized again, thanked him for his understanding, and scurried away before he changed his mind!
The whole episode set me to thinking, which can sometimes be dangerous. What is the best way to break a bird dog with a natural instinct to hunt birds, and a long history of doing so, from hunting and killing chickens?
I knew folks who had yard birds and bird dogs living in close proximity in tranquil fellowship. I also knew my dogs, including ole “Chicken,“ would never disgrace their reputations by chasing meadow larks or wild turkeys! So, what’s the surefire way to put a stop to this chicken carnage?
I studied on it a long time and just couldn’t figure out a logical method for breaking a dog from being a hen house murderer. Then, I remembered what a wise old friend once said to me. “You got way too many brains to be hanging out around here looking ignorant. Hell, go ask somebody that knows.”
Now, there are all sorts of methods utilized for training bird dogs. Many are quite unorthodox. Most bird dog men see their method, no matter how unique, as the one and only way to achieve the desired result. Every bird dog man worth a damn knows that any good bird dog can be broken of any bad habit with patience and a firm, but loving hand.
I was shocked when the verdict from my three bird dog buddies came back unanimous. “Breaking a dog from chasing chickens is one of the hardest things to do. Some dogs never show any interest in chickens, but the ones that do are hard to break. There ain’t but one way to do it and it takes time, but it works every time,” they all said.
It’s really very simple and logical if you think about it.
“Here’s what you do. Get yourself a wide-strapped leather harness, one that goes around the dog’s neck, chest and belly. Then, take one of the dead chickens and lash it securely underneath the dog’s chest with the harness. Make sure it’s really tight and secure. Be sure the head of the chicken is as close as possible to the dog’s nose. The dead chicken will prove to be a terrible aggravation and, over time, the stench of the dead chicken will become so foul ( no pun intended ) that the dog will never again want anything to do with any creature resembling a chicken. It works for Guinea hens, too!” they unanimously agreed.
Well I couldn’t employ this method on ole “Chicken,“ seeing as how she sleeps in the bed with me. While I may go to bed with the chickens, as the old saying goes, I couldn’t tolerate the stench of a dead one tied to my sleeping partner! So, I just decided to make sure her exposure to chickens from then on was limited.
I’ve learned more from working bird dogs than they ever learned from me. And I’ve come to realize there’s a political lesson that’s been around for years in all this dead chicken business.
While I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch, I think I may have finally figured out what will break good folks from their bad habit of voting Republican. It’s a strategy that’s been successful for years, and hiding in plain sight.
Fact is, both political parties have been hanging dead chickens, and the stench that comes with them, around each other’s necks for years.
After the War Between the States, southern Democrats masterfully hung the stench of the “Radical Republicans” of the Reconstruction era around Republican necks for almost a hundred years. Then, along came President Herbert Hoover with a not-so-little thing called “ the Great Depression.“ The pain and stench of that economic disaster were successfully hung around the necks of Republicans for generations. By the time the Civil Rights movement came along, it was the Kennedys, who were symbolic of racial integration and racial justice, that Republicans hung around the necks of southern Democrats with great success.
And now, Republicans are hanging the images of two women, Hillary Clinton and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, around the necks of all Democrats. Proving the old adage that “a whistling girl and a crowing hen can drive the devil out of his den!”
So now, allow me to “strut around like a Banty rooster” and make a “cock sure“ prediction: in the coming days, months, years, Donald Trump will be the most hideous, obnoxious, foul smelling, politically dead chicken in the history of the republic. That, of course, assumes the Republic survives his Presidency.
While a spineless Republican Senate allows Trump “to rule the roost” today, his “crowing” lies will one day be an embarrassment to them all!
Con men’s cons never last forever. Even the sorriest old egg sucking, biscuit eating, flea bag bird dog will eventually find and point to a fake, a fraud, and a con. The scent, the stench, is just too powerful to ignore.
Perhaps LBJ said it best: “Boys, I may not know much, but I sure as hell know the difference between chicken salad and chicken shit!”
The American people do, too, Mr. President!
I say, hang Donald Trump around Republican necks now! The stench is getting more and more unbearable with each passing day! It’s the only way to break this bad habit!!
Patterson on Bird Dogs: https://www.nanewsweb.com/in-praise-of-bird-dogs-field-trials-gentlemen/
Patterson on Trump: https://www.nanewsweb.com/letter-to-trump-situation-hopeless-not-impossible/bird dogs, New Albany MS, opinion, politics