Fer Coadee - A tale of two dogs
It was the dog days of August. I was in the barn fixing the lawn mower and Coadee was outside sitting in the shade under the black walnut tree. The temperature was in the high nineties with typical Maryland humidity. I have sweat streaming down my face and into my eyes, making them sting. The reason I had this task was that I accidentally drained the lawn mower battery. It does not matter how the battery totally discharged, you only need to know I was involved. I had re-charged the battery and was hooking the thing back up to test.
I tried to turn the mower on only to hear the soothing sounds of chickens laying eggs, not the start of an engine. The battery was not going to take a charge. Not to worry, I have done this before so I have a spare battery. I hooked the trickle charger up to the spare and after twenty-four hours no, that too did not work either.
So here, I am installing a newly purchased battery and out of the corner of my eye, I see a chicken where it should not be. I am wet, my eyes burn, I am close to finishing the install and Coadee is sitting under the walnut tree. Per routine, I scolded the chicken for being out of the pen and told it to get back and true to form, it did not listen. No problem, I will call Coadee and she can pick her up and take her back to the pen.
I called for Coadee. She looked towards me acknowledging my beckoning. I said "Coadee, chicken, get the chicken". She does not move she just gives me that look. If you own a dog, you know the look. It is a look of “Yes, I hear you but no, you do not have anything close to interesting enough for me to come”. I called again she got up on all fours. Okay, now the chicken will learn to get back when I tell her too. However, Coadee is still standing, so I call her again. I watched as she took a step and turned to her right walking towards the garage bay. I called her name with a little more force with the command to come. Coadee continued to saunter towards the garage. Not only am I being ignored, apparently my presence is no longer of interest.
Okay, I need to pull out the buzzwords now, so I whistle and say, “Come Coadee lets go to work”, which usually brings her. At that moment, she picks up her gate to a trot, rounds the corner of the garage and is gone. To say I was stunned is understating what I had just witnessed. I am starting to think a calculating dog just ignored me. It looked like Coadee weighed the situation, figured it was hot enough without chasing a chicken and I was there so everything was a okay. Is this what they mean by the dog days of summer? Well, I picked the chicken up marched it back to the pen and placed her inside. I fixed the mower and went about other chores.
Later in the day, I was stowing the garden hoses we use to deliver water to our irrigation zones when I heard a ruckus by the chicken pen. It was an unusual sound so I turned and looked to see a brown flash flying from my right to left. My heart sank, I ran around the silo to get a better look at what flashed past my eyes. It was what I feared, a brown tail hawk swooping down to get a chicken. It was in flight going away from the pen. I looked at the hawks talons and much to my relief did not see any bird. What I heard and saw next surprised me. I turned to see Coadee full stride running past the chickens to where the hawk had flown. The hawk landed on a branch at the very top of a tree. Coadee was below and barking up at the predator.
I guess the hawk did not like the attention because it quickly flew off to the east. Coadee gave chase. Once the hawk was out of sight Coadee patrolled the area looking up in the sky for the danger. At one point, the hawk was visible and heading east away from the house. That did not stop Coadee from running after to see what the hawk was doing. Once the hawk was far enough away, Coadee came back and stayed vigilant watching 360 degrees of sky.
It was amazing to see those farm dog instincts going to work. She was all business and determined to keep an eye on the hawk until the hawk did not pose a direct threat. For the hawk’s part, it just kept flying east towards easier prey I guess.
It was a moment when a little smile comes to your face, because you have witnessed something special. Having seen the lazy dog that morning and the fer coadee (Scottish for protector) this afternoon was definitely a contrast personified.
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