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Meet Chewbacca Lorraine Bradley aka Chooba, Chooba choobs, Choobaline, Booch, the Booch Ness monster, and Sweet potato. Of the 5 dogs we currently have working and lounging on the farm, she is definitely the most spoiled. She just showed up one cold winter evening, her beaded skirt of icicles chiming in the wind. I guess she decided we looked like suckers and she has stayed here ever since. Except when she disappears to one of our neighbors' house for a few days of being spoiled over there. At least we don't let her sleep in the bed.


Shortly after Choobs adopted us, she started getting after the chickens. We would put a stop to it whenever we saw her going after them, but a smart dog pays attention to how occupied her humans are. And Choobs is a very clever dog. Once when we were both away, she got into a pen of laying hens that were five and a half months old and just beginning to lay. Five and a half months of feed and expense, and they were just starting to produce. She killed 17 of the 24 birds. We didn't know what had caused the massacre for several days until a neighbor mentioned that he had seen the attack and could ID the culprit. It got so bad that we eventually tried to re-home her to one of our friends. She went on a tear at his house and killed several of his cousin's birds at the farm next door. On the day that he returned her, within 20 minutes of being back on the farm, she got into another chicken pen. That's when Heather took over Choobs' discipline.


Up to that point, I had been responsible for trying to keep her in line, without any real success. My main punishment was to put her on a chain for a few hours or even a whole day. Choobs loves her freedom, so the most effective punishment was to take it away. Or so I thought. Heather had a much more direct training regimen in mind. Every time she would go outside to feed the chickens, which usually happens 3 or 4 times a day, she would take Choobs with her on a leash. She would also take along a rolled up magazine. If Choobs looked at a chicken, even looked at it, Heather would swat her butt with the magazine. A few weeks of this caused a marked improvement in her behavior. In fact, she only had one relapse to her chicken killing ways after a few weeks of the magazine treatment.


I was trying to do some repairs on the inside of a moveable chicken pen (called a tractor) that had some birds in it. This style of tractor that I used at the time was about 2 ft tall and covered with tin, so to do the repairs I had to crawl inside it. I also had to leave the lid slightly open, so that I could get back out when I finished my repairs. As I was working on the repair in the rear of the tractor, I glanced back behind me and noticed that a bantam chicken that someone had just given me was trying to fly up and out of the gap in the lid. I yelled at it and tried to scramble up to get it, but the distance was too great, and that bird managed to fly up and out of the tractor. Its flight path was beautiful to behold, but rudely interrupted when Choobs caught it with her mouth. I chased after her, but was too slow to save the bird. When Choobs finally came back within range, I grabbed her and put her back on the punishment chain. This time, I left her there for 3 days. The first two days she was defiant and proud. By day three her head was bowed and spirit was broken. She hasn't chased a chicken since.


I could keep telling stories about Choobs all day. Like the time she caught us a turkey. Or the fact that she brings me rabbits as presents. Or I could tell you all about her habit of whining to be let out at 11 so that she can wake me up barking to be let in at 3 in the morning. But instead I'll leave you with this picture of her and her best friend.


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