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  • Nikki Rockwell

The Chicken Coop: How a mangy, Sketchy dog from the Streets Changed our Lives!

I wanted to write about our Chicken, but as anyone who has been in a relationship knows, you can’t write just from your perspective without being interrupted by your S.O.. So here we go!

Nikki: If you are an avid reader of my blog (which, of course, is undoubtedly everyone. I am very much aware of my own social media influence. Me and Kylie Jenner...we both mold our generations) you have heard me talk about my old small, killer of a dog, Chicken. Most of you know the story: Minder Shannon found Chicken walking about South Philly, matted and about 7lbs underweight (more than half of her ideal body weight). What you might not know is that Carolyn and I manifested Chicken. Yep, you read that right.

Literally the day before Shannon found Chicken, I asked Carolyn “If we were to adopt a dog (something that I was pushing for about 5 years of our relationship), what kind of dog would you want? Like, if a dog just came up to me on the street, what kind would you go for?” Carolyn said “I would like it to be a girl, small but sturdy, adorable and would love cats!” And, no lie, that is exactly the type of dog that walked up to Shannon the next day. It was destiny. I got my dog, and Carolyn got her “starter dog.” (She never had a dog growing up. She wanted a small dog to learn with. I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth: Terriers are tiny, fluffy and have the heart of a lion, and they will make you aware of that literally every second of their lives. All I wanted was a puppy of my own! And I just love tiny, bossy pups. Good thing! :) )

Carolyn: This is basically true, but in my defense, I have to say that I did have some idea that small dogs aren’t necessarily easy! I just didn’t want to get my arm ripped off walking the 150 pound monster that Nikki wants to get! Tiny dogs are cute. And you can put them in a bag.

Nikki: Much like all great love stories, the story of Chicken was a bit dramatic, containing multitudes of feelings: ups and downs, tears and sometimes bites! (Think Lifetime Made for T.V. Movies but with a muppet.)

Carolyn: So when we got Chicken, we knew that she was definitely neglected, might have been on the streets for a long time, and could have a history of abuse. She was very fearful about being picked up or handled, and a little nippy. But it seemed like a little bit of love and time would soon set that right. She was cuddly and loving most of the time, and who wouldn’t be a little sensitive after weeks on the street and then going right into heat?! (Yup, that’s right. Poor little baby went into heat three days after we got her - probably finally had enough food in her! As a result, we couldn’t get her spayed for two full months.)

Nikki: We got to have a tiny puppy in a diaper. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was made to have a tiny puppy in a diaper. It was a calling of sorts!

Carolyn: So for the first few months, we figured everything was fine. We could dress her, put her harness on, pick her up, bathe her, even put snow booties on her - and if she nipped from time to time, it didn’t even hurt, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. But as the months passed, Chicken didn’t improve the way we thought she would. We tried training and then Prozac, but though we confirmed that our baby is in fact the smartest ever, 6 months in, she was still struggling.

Now I don’t want to make it sound like it was all tears and bites! Chicken continued to be a snugglebug who loved adventures. We did miles of hikes with her and watched hours of Netflix. And she did make some improvements! She discovered she liked most people, and started accepting pets on walks. But getting handled and meeting dogs: hard pass. Then, in the fall, things took a turn for the worse.

Nikki: Apparently, Chicken and I got into a fight; I was unaware of this fight, but she assured me that it was all my fault and therefore I was no longer allowed to put her harness on her. When I tried, she would snap at me and tell me that I have lost all privileges of putting anything on her. This was after months and months of dressing her up in cool, 80s retro vests, Eagles Tees and even snow booties to protect her tiny pawsies!

Carolyn: Even with me, she was getting more and more bitey, and biting harder. So one year after getting Chicken, we were at the end of our rope. And we’d already tried weeks of training, numerous vet visits, and months of Prozac! Obviously giving her up was a complete non starter. But facing 15 more years of bites seemed overwhelming (Yorkies live a very long time. Chicken will live forever.)

Nikki: And as we all know, Only the good die young! Haven’t we learned anything from Billy Joel?!

Carolyn: I work at Penn, and people had recommended Penn Vet Behavioral Health to me before. But even with my Penn employee discount, the cost was STEEP. Plus, going to Penn seemed like admitting failure, and one of the people I knew who had used Penn Vet for behavior problems had ended up putting her dog down because his aggression was dangerous and incurable. I was scared! Would it work? What if they told us she should be put down? Would Chicken ever live a normal life?

~ to be continued ~

Ok I know we left you on a cliffhanger! Spoiler alert:

Chicken is going to live a normal life. (Normal for Chicken).

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