Photo by Audrey Pavia
Our Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Nigel, is the consummate urban farm dog. He spends his days lounging around the backyard, overseeing the chickens, the cat and the horses while at the same time ignoring them. Although he does good work keeping our resident wild bunny off the lawn, he is generally a peaceable creature who can get along with just about any critter around. With one exception.
When Nigel was a pup, a Corgi breeder I know asked me, “How does he feel about crows?” I was puzzled by this question because Nigel never paid any attention to crows.
“He ignores them,” I answered.
“That will change,” came the very certain reply.
Sure enough, when Nigel hit about 8 months old, a deeply inbred disdain for the black birds rose to the surface. He began to whine whenever a crow would land on a power line near our yard. The whines eventually morphed into vicious barks accompanied by charges in the crow’s general direction.
At first, the crows flew away, but after a while, they started to blow him off. This made Nigel crazy with rage, and he would go wild. His crow-bark had a special tone to it: deep and desperate—as if his life depended on scaring them away.
Given his hatred for crows, I was pretty shocked one day when I looked out the window and saw a bizarre scene.
A crow was hopping across the patio, one of its wings drooping. It was clearly injured and couldn’t fly. Following about 2 feet behind at the same pace was Nigel, his nose close to the ground, bearing the most perplexed expression I’ve ever seen on a dog.
As the crow hopped desperately to get away, Nigel followed at a respectful distance. I could just imagine the thoughts going through his doggie mind: “Why doesn’t it fly away? Why? Why? Why?”
I watched the crow make his way across the yard and hop gamely through the fence onto our neighbor’s property, where he was no longer Nigel’s problem. Our Corgi sat down and watched the crow move farther and farther away from him. His confused expression remained.
It was at this moment that I realized what a truly gentle soul I had living with me in the form of a Corgi. As much as he hated crows, he just didn’t have murder in his heart.
Crows continue to perch near our home, and Nigel continues to do his duty, passionately chasing them away. Only now, when I watch him in action, I know he is definitely all bark and absolutely no bite.