Lily Saves the Day

Lily is an almost perfect farm dog. In the six years I’ve had her, she has kept all woodchucks, foxes and raccoons off of the property. Coyotes trot through, but they don’t stay. Squirrels are banned from the bird feeders. Her high prey drive keeps the chipmunks off of the blueberry bushes. All would be perfect, except she is so reactive to movement, that I can’t ever let the chickens out at the same time as Lily. I can train her not to chase them, but I’d never be 100% certain that she wouldn’t go after a running hen.


This morning I decided to let the hens out for a forage while I walked the goats in the meadow. I closed Lily up in the house. I opened the doors to the coop runs. The hens hurried out. I put the leashes on the goats. We meandered over to the stone wall, which is overhung by large oak trees, with small maples growing up behind. The goats love those maple leaves. All was pleasant.

Lily, inside the house, with all the doors and windows closed, started barking her loud “watch-out” bark. The goats bolted. I looked up and saw a huge hawk in hunting mode over my lawn. I dropped the leashes, ran into the middle of the yard, waved my arms and yelled. The hawk glided up and away towards the deep woods. The goats ran into the barn. The chickens that live in the big barn were already huddled in their coop. I counted. All seven were safe. I settled the goats in and looked for the hens in the HenCam coop. The three bantams were under Candy’s hutch. But the other girls were hiding in the bushes and pine trees behind the coop. They did not want to come out for corn. I chased. I lured. I grabbed. Finally, all seven were back in their run, safe and sound.

Lily has done this before. I don’t know whether she can hear the hawk (she has amazing hearing and alerts to my car coming home when I’m a quarter of a mile away) or whether she was looking out the window and saw the hawk. I do know that in the past I’ve seen her chase hawks out of the sky, but ignore other flying birds, and airplanes. She’s not just going after movement or shadows. She knows what she’s doing. It’s mind-boggling that Lily was still doing her farm-dog work while shut inside. At times I do get annoyed at her loud barking, but today it saved my hens. Good dog, Lily! I’m going to go give her another cookie.


  1. Come on mom!!! how about a couple of scramble eggs (I’ll take them plain)for protecting the “egg producers”?

    • Hah! She had dog biscuits made by some nice local boys (who raise money for an animal shelter by selling them at our town’s farmers’ market .) Homemade bacon biscuits. Better than eggs!

  2. That was so great! I have ONE rooster (he is enough) that I call “The Peacemaker”. I have never seen a rooster get in between two hens when they have a squabble…like…”Break it up girls and go to your corners!”. He also makes this loud noise when he sees ANYTHING that would hurt a bird. When he makes that noise, the girls dive and I always look around to see what he sees…Crazy! (Like a fox!!!!!).

  3. What a great story and a great dog! And timely…I have been researching dogs lately and we’re seriously thinking about adding one to our family again. Ideally I’d love someone who could be trained the job of “watching” the girls.

    I agree, bigger reward for that feat of brilliance…Steak and Eggs with Shallot-Garlic Butter and Sweet Onions?

    Jenny in Wisconsin

    • Jenny- the trick to a good farm dog is to have one that is alert and intelligent, but that is also biddable and not so prey driven. A difficult to find combination! I had a Husky/Aussie mix that kept the predators away, but left the chickens alone. She wasn’t bred to be a farm dog, but she sure was good at her work.

  4. My fondness for dogs grows by the day (having grown up as one who preferred felines). I love our Golden Retriever. She barks often at the wildlife around us and we get to where we ignore her too often. One day, her bark changed to a different kind of sound. I casually asked one of my girls to check it out. I should have gone running myself. Alas, we were too late when I finally did go out myself – my best layer had been attacked and was no more. A sad day and a lesson learned – take heed for your dog is loyal and protective!

  5. Make your own dog (or cat or people) biscuits. Recipes available from (The Baker’s Catalogue)or (Gourmet, December 2005). Bone shaped cutters are readily available in a variety of sizes at kitchen-ware stores.