Yep. We now have a puppy. His name is Jasper and he is 3/4 cocker spaniel and 1/4 springer spaniel. He pees and poos with abandon, to the point that I am exceedingly grateful that we have wooden floors. He has a particular fondness for socks, newspapers and eating chicken poo. All apparently normal. He seems reasonably intelligent, so the plan is that I will be able to train him to ignore the chooks. That's the plan.
In reality, he seems quite unphased by them. Yesterday, I let the girls out for their morning constitutional. After a few minutes, I stuck Jasper on his lead and we stood on the patio. Naturally, the feathered contingent chuntered with alarm and hot footed it down to the greenhouse. They stood in a huddle muttering, occasionally throwing me evils. Flo and Winnie seemed the least perturbed, and I remember an elderly spaniel mooching about their pens at the breeder's house. The rest of my girls have never been exposed to a canine.
For his part, Jasper pretty much ignored them. I suppose when you're only 12 weeks old, everything is new and fascinating. He didn't pull on the lead or show any sign of wanting to get any closer. After a few minutes, the hens went back to mooching. But they kept one beady eye on the weird fox/wolf combo predator being held on a bit of string my yours truly. Smart, my girls.
Later on in the day, when the girls were safely locked inside the Palace grounds, Jasper was bounding about the lawn chasing leaves. Mabel took off from the floor to the perch in the run, and the feathery kerfuffle peaked his interest. He slowly walked towards the Palace door, ears alert and ready to flee. Flo and Winnie carried on eating their lunch and totally ignored him. But Maeve was sat nearest the door on the perch. She lowered her head, raised her hackles, and when he came within her exclusion zone, hissed. He ran back to me and hid behind my legs.
I really don't blame him.