There’s a chicken head on my desk…

By Mir
August 28, 2005

… and it keeps staring at me.

My ex was giving me a hard time about keeping these dogs for the weekend, because he staunchly maintains that I do not like dogs. That is not, in fact, true. I love dogs. I am not super-fond of dogs I can’t seem to control, for all the obvious dog- and carpet-related reasons, as well as because I just like to control things. (Heh.)

We used to have a dog, and he was… well… he was a darling, really. Very sweet. But let’s just say that I am a paragon of mental stability next to that dog. That dog had separation anxiety and herding insticts that made him body-check small children into the wall and then stand on them and every time he went to doggie school he was PERFECT–there. He would then come home and be all “Yay! Back to the asylum! What can I destroy first??” I tolerated him for a long time, but once my ex moved out the dog left off all other bad behaviors in favor of a I AM NOW THE ALPHA AND I SHALL EAT YOU IF YOU TRY TO ENTER MY DOMAIN schtick, and, well, now he lives happily on a farm with another dog, and my UPS man no longer calls me nasty names under his breath.

Anyway, this afternoon Gangly Dog beheaded his rubber chicken. A moment of silence, please.

(The chicken’s family thanks you for your condolences.)

My children were simultaneously delighted and horrified. Once the head was off, Gangly Dog kept grabbing it in his mouth and tossing it in the air (such a CHEERFUL killer, he is) and chewing on it, and finally I took it away because I was afraid he would choke. Once the head was out of reach, he went back to working on what remains of the chicken body (neck, wings, and belly; the legs were missing when he arrived). The kids dangled off the back of the couch and tried to explain to Gangly Dog that the chicken was already dead. Gangly Dog took their advice under deep consideration while nibbling on said chicken’s abdominal cavity.

Chickadee turned to me after a minute and remarked, “He’s not all that smart, is he, Mama.”

I tried to explain that this is how dogs are. They fixate. That it looks to us like they’re methodically dismantling an object, but to them they’re just doing what they feel driven to do. I found myself chuckling and telling them about how our dog used to perform heroic emergency squeakerectomies on any squeaky toy we gave him. It was an obsession. And he loved STUFFED squeaky toys, because he could first extract the squeaker (with triumph) and then pull out the fluff bit by bit. My trip down memory lane was punctuated by the occasional *squeaksqueak* of the decapitated rubber chicken against Gangly Dog’s teeth.

Meanwhile, Fluffy Dog spent today finding every single ant bait in the house that I’ve put down and forgotten about since the beginning of time. He’s definitely the quieter of the two dogs, but this was the same instinct in force. He knew he wasn’t supposed to have them–he kept getting this guilty look–and he wasn’t even chewing on them, just CAPTURING them and laying on top of them with this pitiful “I couldn’t help it, it was TAUNTING me and I HAD to” sort of apologeticness. I would take the trap from him and throw it away and an hour later he would have another one. (Can’t. Stop. Hoarding. Ant poison!) Fluffy Dog was crying out for intervention. Sadly, helping him to admit that he is powerless over his addiction was not part of the services I agreed to render.

Destroying toys or repeating a forbidden action over and over isn’t “all that smart” (thanks, Chickadee), to be sure. But to my mind, neither of those things were nearly as puzzling as the war our dog declared on any item we dared to put in his crate.

We owned the only dog in the history of dogdom who never, ever bonded with his crate. It was puppy prison; he knew it, and we knew it. He never forgave us. He would bark and cry and rattle and scratch and generally make it clear that he would not be silent until his needs were met (those needs being a comfy seat on the couch rather than being shoved in a box). We used the crate for years, following all of the advice the vet and dog trainers gave us, and still he hated it. Periodically we would try to make it more comfortable for him by adding a soft towel or blanket or pad, thinking that perhaps that would soothe him.

Any item inserted into the crate was shredded. Even the super-heavy-duty fake sheepskin guaranteed to soothe even the most agitated of dogs. Any attempt to make his confinement more pleasant was rejected. He didn’t want solace; he wanted to chew and be miserable. No matter how long you played with him or how many balls you tossed for him or how many squirrels you let him chase during the day, as soon as you put him into the crate, anguish would descend. Along with the counterproductive but irrepressible urge to destroy anything that might make him feel better.

How could I not love a creature with whom I have so much in common?

Plus dogs are way cuter and cuddlier than I am while beheading things. Stop looking at me like that, stupid chicken head.


  1. Kris

    Oh yes, they’re most certainly “not all that smart.”

    Buddy thinks he’s a cat. HE also performs squeekerotomies. And I once had a chow/elkhound mix that just loved to behead her fleeples. (Fleecepeople toys). One had a head missing. One had an arm missing. One was made paraplegic. All within minutes of receiving them, because…well, that’s what they do.

    And Buddy has a thing for any used kleenex in the house – tearing it and shredding it with abandon. And any vinyl toy piece – lizard figurines, barbie dolls, etc – all become yummy treats for god only knows what reason.

    Yep, Chickadee – they’re not all that smart. Good call.

  2. The Other Dawn

    …this afternoon Gangly Dog beheaded his rubber chicken….


    No, they’re not all that smart which is why we love them. They never remember our mistakes and love us unreservedly no matter how stupidly we behave.

    R.I.P. Rubber chicken. We hardly knew ye.

  3. Patry

    Love your Arthur Miller quote.

  4. Bob

    a quiet memorial service was held attended by the many friends and neighbors of rubberchickentoy. A trashcan-side service followed attended by those closest to him. Members of the SPCRCT (Society for the Prevention to Rubber Chicken Toys) held a protest meeting outside demanding the offender be made accountable. Members of the RSPCRCT (Royal Society for the Prevention to Rubber Chicken Toys)are discussing a one-day strike in support of their colonial brothers.

  5. ben

    Sorry about Mr. Chicken! What a way to go. I’m a dog lover, but I think you already know that.

    And speaking of heads (you were), we used to have a dog that loved loved (LOVED!) his chew toys. This was a Good Thing, because it meant he did not chew on furniture, carpet, walls, doors, other critters, etc. Just the toys.

    One night we had company of the in-law variety. Parent in-laws. Parent in-laws that are so Catholic they make the Pope seem like a slacker. Yes, they actually agreed to come into my house (but that could be another story).

    So we sit down to visit, and the dog brings in his current favorite chew toy. The Pillsbury Dough Boy! Made of Rubber!

    And the dog lays in the middle of the room (so he can listen in on our wonderful conversation) and sticks Mr. Dough Boy between his front legs and gets busy. Literally. Mr Dough Boy was upside down, little rubber legs sticking up, and my dog is going down on him in front of my mother-in-law, who cannot say the word “sex” out loud without saying five Hail Mary’s afterward. (She once beat me with a wooden spoon for saying I was “pissed” about something).

    And I got the giggles listening to the constant “Slurp slurp slurp…”

    Ah, good times….

  6. Heather McCutcheon

    First dog was a border collie, wasn’t it? That sounds like a typical border collie to me, slightly neurotic and loves to herd.

    I’ve had four of them, LOL.

  7. Debbie

    My three geniuses are busy fighting over a stuffed squirrel. We had to buy them a stuffed one because they can’t seem to catch a real one – though they have tried and tried. They are fighting over the stuffed one because they like to chew on its ass. Every time I walk by the fake squirrel it looks like it has wet itself.

    As far as being smart….my middle child this morning asked for a reminder on how to peel a banana. He’s 12. He was twisting the stem. There is a definate race for the finish between my kids and the dogs at this point…

  8. Jazzy

    I had a dog that ATE anything you put in his crate. One day I came home from class and he had managed to pull the table cloth off the coffee table and eat my W2’s. He ate wood also. Not real bright, indeed.

  9. dad

    I read your blog to Buddy and he completely agrees that other dogs are not very smart.
    But, of course, that’s not the reason we love them. Where else could one ever get that much devotion and love in exchange for an occasionally aromatic carpet?


  10. laura

    Our dog loves squeaky toys but she doesn’t disembowel them. She’s very gentle with them, and pokes them with her nose to make them squeak. Like a little conversation. It’s OUR stuff that she destroys. We do have a rubber chicken stashed away somewhere, and I can think of no better place for it than our dog’s mouth.

  11. Jenn

    I was going to ask if your first dog was a border collie, but Heather beat me to it. Anyway, my friends have a border collie that they are currently having horrific problems with and they ended up taking him to a doggie psychologist.

    Gangly dog sounds like my dog, tossing the toys, and then prancing around, swinging his stuffed duck around in circles by his head. Sometimes he’ll stare the toy down for a few seconds before attacking it, and I always think he’s say “Are you talking to me? I don’t see anyone else here, so you must be talking to me!” Heh.

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest