I got a phone message from a neighbor yesterday saying that a stray dog had entered our backyard and was endangering our chickens. I immediately guessed which dog this was. We live in an area where dogs are forbidden by law to roam freely. The dog owner is responsible to keep the dog either on a leash or in a fenced area. One dog, a large and friendly yellow Labrador mix, had nonetheless been to our home on several occasions and had killed a chicken before. He had also maimed one of our roosters, who spent the rest of his life limping. I had a hunch that it was the same dog, even though we hadn’t seen him for months.
As I returned home I immediately saw the suspected dog enjoying his “meal.” He was finishing off the last of our beautiful and lively black chicken. This was the chicken that we most loved to see. Whenever we entered the yard, she greeted us by running toward us instead of away. She had shiny black feathers. Somehow she had found a way to escape the pen and coop where the other five chickens stayed, often roaming freely in our yard during the day. At night, she would find her way back into the fenced pen and sleep in the coop with the other chickens.
I pulled my car only a few feet into the driveway, not wanting to scare off the dog. I knew that I had to do something to prevent this from happening again. I called the police to see if they could send the animal control group over. Our town is small and we don’t have animal control in the afternoon, but they sent a policeman, who came and took the dog. The dog was friendly: he had a full stomach! The policeman also took the remains of the chicken. Never again would we receive that fun and unique greeting from our gregarious chicken.
This morning I was thinking about how all the other chickens stayed where they were supposed to. Maybe they wished they could find a way to roam freely with no restrictions. During warm weather months, we often let the chickens out to roam our yard when we are home to safeguard them. But this one black chicken, no matter how many times we put her back in the pen, would get out. I wondered how, as her owners or “masters”, we could have done a better job of protecting her. It makes me sad that even though we had provided a safe haven for her, fed her and given her water, she still ended up as prey for a hungry dog.
There are so many parallels between the incident of the chicken and our lives. We have been given this life by God. Jesus came and taught us the guidelines, or commandments, that we need to follow to have a safe haven with Him and the Father. So many of us do not keep His commandments, thinking that life will be better if we roam freely, with no restrictions. Eventually we become possible prey for Satan, who wants to destroy us. Of course, the dog was not at fault; dogs are naturally programmed to eat chickens. But we are human beings, with freedom to choose. We can protect ourselves if we stay within the guidelines that God has given us. If we choose to run around without restriction, we are no longer privy to the protection set up by our Master. His commandments are the “fences” He has put in place for us to help us live safe, happy, healthy lives. May we all keep ourselves safely within the bounds the Lord has set.
Feb 15, 2012