The Chicken-Killer

By Trudy Tangen MacMillan in Animals & Nature, Community, People

After finishing the supper dishes, Ruby heard frantic clucking and squawking coming from the chicken coop. Quickly she ran towards it, stopping just outside the gate, there were feathers flying everywhere. The painful clucking indicated the devastation taking place within, searching the ground she grabbed a stone and threw it at the door.
“Get out of there! Get… Get … or?”
Or what she thought, ‘I’m not running in there.’ It wasn’t the first time, a wolf or coyote destroyed their chickens. Ruby knew it was dangerous to surprise them. As the stone hit the door and bounced to the ground a huge German Shepard jumped over the fence, and vanished into the bush. In the pen three chickens lay dead, while others were running around squawking. Carefully she picked up the carcasses and removed them. Another day without eggs, nervous chickens didn’t lay. Thank goodness the kids hadn’t witnessed the gruesome mess of feathers and blood.
When Gaston came home she told him about the dog, so after supper he went to report the incident to the RCMP. Old Officer McGregor was at his desk going over numerous complaints. After hearing about the Chicken fiasco, McGregor responded.
“Listen Gus, I’m sorry about the loss of your chickens, but tell your wife the next time she sees the dog, she’s to
shoot it.”
“Shoot it?” Gaston repeated, questioning what he had just heard. “You want her to shoot it?”
“Yes, you heard me, just shoot it. I’ve got more important things to do around this place than chase after some chicken-killing dog.”
Gaston returned home and told Ruby what McGregor said.
“I’m not going to shoot him,” she rebelled. “I don’t like guns and I’d probably miss anyway.”
“I’ll tell you what,” he continued. “I’ll prop the gun on the window sill, aim it directly at the door, so when he comes back, all you have to do is point it at his head, pull the trigger, and boom no more chicken-killer.”
He made it sound so easy she thought, “I don’t know, I’m not sure I can do it, and what about the kids?”
“That dog will be back, mark my word, you just make sure the kids are all inside the house. He’ll probably be here tonight, if not at the crack of dawn. If he comes while I’m home, you needn’t worry, cause I’ll do it.”
The next day her ears were alert for any unwanted noise coming from the back shed. Listening for the sound of upset chickens wasn’t easy when you had six kids to care for.
After supper Gaston took three of the boys with him to help their grandfather. Ruby had just tucked in the baby when Gordie & Gerry started fighting.
“I’ll be glad when you two grow up.” She scolded, pulling her five-year old, Gerry from his brother.
“Gordie quit teasing him, that’s not nice; it isn’t his fault he has red hair!”
“Mom, he says my hair’s on fire.”
Before she could reply Gordie yelled.
“Mom, that dog’s in the chicken coop again.”
They too had been waiting. She was afraid this would happen.
“Shoot him mom.” Gerry coached, his eyes as big as saucers.
“I’ll do it, mom.” Gordie offered, running towards the window sill.
“No.” She screamed. “Don’t you dare go near that gun?”
Ignoring her, he began pushing the chair towards the window, Ruby grabbed him by the seat of the pants and pulled him back. For seven-years old, he was an impetuous little devil.
The sound outside grew louder, promptly she grabbed the gun.
“Shoot him mom, dad said to.” They echoed.
Carefully she lifted the window, just enough to slip the barrel through; aimed the gun and watched nervously while he began ripping apart one of her hens.
“He’s too low.” She mumbled, but no sooner had she said it when he jumped up onto his hind legs and grabbed another chicken from its nest.
“Yes, yes.” She whispered.
“Bang…..ang….ang!” the gun echoed in her ears, and the dog fell to the ground.
“I got him!” She cried out, feeling caught up in the moment. “I got him!”
The slamming of the screen door jolted her back to reality. Gordie and Gerry were heading for the Chicken shed.
“She got him,” they yelled. “Wow, bang, just like that, good shot mom! Wait until dad sees this. He’s gonna be surprised. Bet ya didn’t think you could do it hey mom?”
They were still chattering when she turned the dead animal over. Blood ran from its ears. Her heart was filled with remorse, and she felt sick to the stomach, never before had she killed anything.
Just then Gaston came running into the yard. Gordie and Gerry were still babbling.
“Mom shot the chicken killer dad. BANG, just like that, only one shot, WOW, you should have seen her, she just aimed and BOOM!”.
Ruby was kneeling over the dog, when Gaston came to her side.
“I heard the shot” he said, catching his breath.
“What a beautiful dog.” She whispered, oblivious to the kids constant chattering.
“ Let me look at it?” He turned the dog from one side to the other. “I’ve seen this dog before.”
“Where?” She asked anxiously. “Where? Whose dog is it? I should have waited and let you shoot it?
Gaston’s eyes met hers, her face was pale, and stricken with grief. She was waiting for him to reply.
“Whose dog is it?” She screamed.
With a repressed snicker he replied. “Officer McGregor’s”