Once upon a time my dog Beegu, the labradoodle, escaped from our yard and dashed to my neighbor’s where their chickens were loosely scattered, happily engaged in the industrious and vacuous pursuits of the chicken world.
Our gates had been left open (apparently) and it didn’t take long for Beegu to tear over there just as Mrs. Peepers was proudly pecking and scratching her way to freedom.
I must have been out in the yard myself, pulling weeds or rearranging the plants as I am prone to do, when I heard Miss Peeper’s screech. Terror makes an unmistakable sound.
I flew across the street to find Beegu, black as night, with Miss Peepers, white as snow, firmly wedged in her mouth. Feathers filled the air and littered the pavement all around them. There were spatters of blood.
NO! I sputtered. LEAVE IT DROP IT STOP LIE DOWN STAY!
I grabbed Beegu’s collar, pried open her jaw and released Miss Peepers. She fell to the ground in a heap. She’s dead! I thought. I’m too late!
Beegu stood stock still with a shock of feathers sticking out in every direction, like she was clutching a downy fan in her mouth.
A moment later, Mrs. Peepers stirred and staggered to her feet. She shook her head a few times, turned, and began to walk drunkenly back to the gate. But her trajectory was off and instead of navigating through the open space, she kept bumping into the fence over and over like a misguided wind-up toy.
Soon after, my neighbors came outside and scooped up Miss Peepers. They took her inside to look her over and clean her up, poor girl. I walked Beegu home to rinse her off and give her a treat. I couldn’t punish her–she was only following her instincts. I may have even given her an egg (which means it was the only time I could actually answer the question, which came first?).
Mrs. Peppers’s injuries healed and she returned to the henhouse. She had to endure a few days of ill treatment from her clutch. (There really is such a thing as a pecking order and I’m afraid, she was temporarily at the bottom.) But in time, her humiliation was forgotten and she reclaimed her rank. Beegu never brought it up but I noticed she walked with more of a swagger. I may have intervened but I couldn’t take away the memory of what she had captured.
What’s my point?
I haven’t the foggiest.
Except maybe to say, maybe life is like that. Sometimes we’re Beegu and sometimes we’re Miss Peepers.
And sometimes we’re me, thwarting and rescuing at the same time.