Dog Writers Association of America Nomination

The Dog Writers Association of America has selected Patti’s article “Where The Rooster Roosted” as a nominee for its 2005 Writing Competition. Awards are being presented in New York City on February 12, 2006.

Where The Rooster Roosted

I knew the news wasn’t going to be good when my phone rang at 11:30 p.m. I’ve never received any good news that late, but was certain it was bad when I saw on the caller ID that my Mom was calling.

“Your Dad just had to go to the emergency room,” she said, as I almost had a heart attack remembering the two my Father had endured. Before I could let my breath back out, she continued…”He got bitten by a dog.” Turns out my Dad was removing a rooster from a dog’s pen, but the rooster didn’t want to go and the dog wanted the rooster to stay, and thus my Dad’s dilemma.

Picture the scene… my family home in rural Pennsylvania with enough acreage for one of my bothers to raise championship hunting dogs. Now these aren’t dogs you take out for an afternoon romp around the yard or a game of catch. These are serious hunters that undergo rigorous training involving shock collars and endless nights in the woods. These dogs are all about the business of hunting and winning awards. Warm and fuzzy is not a trait these dogs encouraged to possess. They pass their test and go off with their new owners to one day hopefully appear on the cover of such magazines as I’ve never seen in the waiting room of anywhere such as Full Cry.

This entire incident began when a neighbor gave my Mother a rooster they no longer could deal with named Mr. Clinton. Mr. Clinton soon was the king of the property, crowing everyone up at dawn. Honestly, my last visit home was unbearable due to Mr. Clinton and those dogs. The dogs barked all night and the rooster began screeching outside my window just as it got light.

I’ve never been fond of these dogs due to their endless nocturnal barking; however, they’ve never been known to bite anyone. Turns out though, nature sometimes does play strange tricks on us and one of these indifferent at best dogs, developed some real compassion and became a fierce protector of one very big rooster.

As the temperatures fell to near freezing, my mother worried about her rooster, and sought winter shelter for him. His conspicuous absence except when he came for feed was beginning to worry her, as was the silence in the mornings. And then, one night when my brother was feeding his big championship gruff dog, called Driver, there in the corner of his house, Driver was shielding Mr. Clinton. Knowing what these dogs are trained to do, Claude thought the dog might harm the chicken, and tried to coax Mr. Clinton out. No deal.

Fearing the worst as he approached the pen the next morning, he found Driver and Mr. Clinton contentedly sleeping side by side. This was too good to keep to himself and one by one everyone came by the pen to see the dog and the chicken that had taken up residence together. Day after day this continued until the freezing cold night of the bite. My Dad decided it was time for Mr. Clinton to come in from the cold, but Driver felt differently and wasn’t shy in showing it, thus my Dad ended up in the emergency room.

Things have settled down on the farm in Corsica. A few stitches, a tetanus shot, a day or two of tenderness and my Dad is as good as new. Everyone enjoys the quiet in the mornings, and the other dogs aren’t barking all night either. Mr. Clinton and Driver have settled in together to make it through what promises to be a long cold winter

I once wrote a college paper where I concluded that opposites might be attracted to each other, but really wouldn’t last as a couple. That after all, a bird may love a fish, but where would they build their home? Maybe I need to re-think that one.