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A Chicken in the Yard

Why did someone throw a cooked chicken, and potatoes, into the woods behind our building where we walk the dogs?

So, one day, we were walking in the backyard of our co-op building, a nice big yard with a hill up into the woods, and Cricket spotted a squirrel, and Butterfly spotted her sister hopping like a bunny rabbit to catch the squirrel, and I let go of Butterfly’s leash (not Cricket’s, because I am not crazy), and Butterfly ran towards the squirrel, and then took a swift left turn towards a section of ivy we usually do not bother to explore. Cricket pulled me up the hill and over to the spot and I saw what I thought was an enormous, pale grey mushroom. I stepped on Butterfly’s leash and held both girls back from the strange thing until Grandma, our nature guide, could take a closer look. She looked at it, touched it with the toe of her shoe, and said, “I think it’s a chicken.”


“Of course you can trust me off leash, Mommy.”

I did not believe her. Really, I thought, Mom has not had enough rest lately. What would a chicken be doing in our backyard? On the next walk, I was careful to keep hold of the leashes, and promptly forgot about the strange mushroom in the ivy. But later in the afternoon. After a long nap, I convinced Mom to hold Butterfly’s leash for me, while Cricket tried to drag me to the street to visit the cars up close, and when Butterfly pulled on her leash, Mom let her run free. Instead of running ten feet and finding the perfect pooping spot, as usual, Butterfly galloped the length of the yard, up the hill, around the corner, and into the ivy. By the time Mom caught up to her, Butterfly had her face down in the greenery. Mom pulled the leash and managed to get Butterfly a foot away from the area, and saw that she was eating something. It looked like a potato.


The ivy patch, or potato patch.

“A potato?” (This was me, when Mom and Butterfly met me and Cricket half way across the yard, Butterfly looking back at her ivy patch with longing.)

“A potato. And it was definitely a chicken, not a mushroom, probably split down the middle and flattened with a brick.”

“A cooked chicken?”

“And potatoes.”

“Why did someone throw a cooked chicken and potatoes into the woods?”

Mom could not answer this for me, though she had a suspicion that it was the same woman who throws huge chunks of French bread on the lawn to choke the birds.


“But Mommy, I want the bread!”

I held both leashes while Mom took an extra bag from her pocket and used it as a protective glove with which to remove the chicken and potatoes from the woods, so that the girls would no longer be drawn to it as if it were, well, chicken.

Unfortunately, Butterfly was able to find a potato hiding under the ivy the next morning, and stood around chewing it ostentatiously in front of me at seven o’clock in the morning when I didn’t have the energy to fight with her. And Cricket found another potato that afternoon, which inspired her grandma to search through the ivy more carefully for any other leftovers.

We seem to be safe now. And I say it that way because, almost immediately, when I was told it was a chicken and not a magically appearing mushroom of unusual size, I started to think that someone was trying to poison my dogs. We’re the only ones who seem to go up there – because that’s where the managers told us to go since we insist on not walking the dogs in the street four times a day. And Cricket is kind of annoying, and some of the grass in front of our building has clearly been peed on, so maybe someone has a grudge against my dogs and wanted to hurt them and what better way than to cook up an entire chicken, and potatoes, and inject them with poison, and throw them in the path of my babies.


“I am not annoying.”

My paranoia started to wear off after a few days, when it was clear that my dogs were not dying. I had to remind myself that some people are just weird. Some people throw their dinner into the woods, for the magical fairies (aka raccoons) to enjoy, instead of into the garbage cans in the basement in well tied black garbage bags.

Both dogs still rush over to that spot in the ivy to check if any new snacks have arrived, and Cricket has decided that there may also be snacks hidden in the adjacent leaf pile, and insists on shoving her nose in as deep as possible, and burrowing, every time she has a chance.


Cricket’s leaf pile (there are no potatoes in there, that I know of).

It makes me wonder if I’ve been failing as a dog Mommy all of these years, by NOT burying treats in the yard for them to find on their walks.

pix from eos 041.jpg


About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

127 responses »

  1. My Service Dog, Remy (the Sometimes Wonder Dog) adores little dogs. He’s 32″ at the shoulder and over 100 lbs. but his best friend at the dog park was a “Dorkie” (part Dachshund part Yorkie). I love reading about your pups!

  2. We have a beagle–and that should be all I have to say for you to know that she NEVER forgets where a morsel of tossed food has rested. Fun blog!

  3. I feel your pain and paranoia. There is a cook at the seniors residence next door to our condo, who throws great hunks of bread out for the “birds”, aka seagulls, which swell in like a Hitchcock movie I wish I never saw, and as I quietly feed the cardinals oil seed in a garden below our balcony, many in our building erroneously and vocally (not unlike the seagulls) equate the gulls to me!

  4. LOVE that last shot!

    “Chicken!” What delight!!!

  5. And I thought the post was going to be about live chickens that still cluck! How peculiar.. and rather tasty… much better than the day we spotted a cauliflower on the grass verge alongside the track that goes right through the middle of the woods!

  6. The last photo is precious!


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