Master of Our Souls: A Chicken & Dog Story

dog and chickens
A few blog entries ago, I was telling you about the farm that has grown up around me as my son-in-law has been experimenting in preparation for their “Urban Farm.” One of these experiments involves chickens- very fascinating creatures. They have reached a stage in their development where they are released from their chicken tractor in the evenings for a couple of hours. They love the freedom, and oddly enough, they don’t go too far off. They do short sprints, fluff their feathers and perhaps fly a foot or two, but always come back to their home. I like this homing instinct- some way or another, I think we all have it.

These are curious birds, and sometimes their curiosity can be confused with stupidity; a close cousin. On their very first adventure in the open air, our chocolate lab lay in the grass about thirty feet away, watching. This lab is a trained bird dog, and though she has been retired for a few years, she still has the nose and instincts.

The chickens stepped closer and closer to Cali. She would move her trademark Labrador eyebrows up and down, one eye at a time, and I could see her tucked hind legs twitch with anticipation. She knew we would not approve of her taking a chicken for a meal; so she lay there, being sorely tempted as the chickens walked ever closer.

I marveled. Was this truly mastery in self-discipline, or was this simply old age? Was this a “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” sort of thing? Or was this a remarkable lesson in self-restraint?

The chickens perhaps could sense that if they took one more step, they would become a chicken dumpling. They saw Cali’s eyebrows rise (with anxious anticipation) and RAN back toward their chicken coop home.

I thought of the many times in my life that I didn’t exercise restraint, or simply allowed my “senses” to take over. I thought of how, in maturity and age, wisdom does become the bi-product of thinking before we act. I thought of the lesson from Og Mandino’s scroll marked six “Today I Will Be Master of My Emotions” (The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino). I thought of the last verse of the Poem Invictus by Ernest Henley:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

I saw a miracle that evening; watching a fully trained bird dog NOT REACT to the temptation of her lifetime. I guess we can learn good lessons from dogs and chickens!