Dawn O'Donoghue: Fed up of naughty Niko, the chickens decided to take their revenge ...
Read Dawn's Good Life column every Thursday in the Mail ...
As I turned the vacuum cleaner off (and a vocal Billy Idol) I heard our youngest dog, Niko, whining.
Niko is the wimpiest dog I've ever met. When faced with danger he tries to get inside my jumper or hides under the bed. A visit to the vet involves pulling and pushing him through the door or, if he's feeling particularly wimpy, carrying him into the surgery, where he turns himself into a heavy density eel, resulting in strained backs and bad tempers.
He is also the naughtiest dog you could ever meet. His pilfering habit would rival Fagin and the Artful Dodger. How he manages to get inside a room that is locked I don't know.
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Nor have I figured out how he opens the biscuit barrel, removes the biscuits (which he then unwraps), eats them and then vacates the scene of his crime.
Hearing his cries I did wonder if he had bitten through yet another electric cable, found the secret stash of chocolate (his particular favourite) or managed to climb out of the window and onto the roof in pursuit of the nearest cat. I confess I think they snigger as he follows them. I swear they do it on purpose.
On this occasion he hadn't managed any of his usual tricks. He wasn't stuck under a cupboard, locked outside the front door (how does he do that?) or perched on the kitchen table.
As I approached the back door his whimpers increased and there, with his legs crossed, was Niko trying to get out into the garden (to do what he needed to) but stopped by a posse of chickens who had had enough of him.
With a look in their eyes that made me nervous, they took revenge for all those occasions when Niko had their treats (warm breakfast cereal), pinched their hot mash or simply stuck his head in their feed bin and eaten corn, which I'm sure isn't healthy for a dog.
Their military planning must have taken weeks to prepare. The smallest hen (Lucia) lured him out and then her sisters surrounded him. They refused to let him use his "garden spot" and every time he tried to alleviate his pressing bladder problem they strategically pecked him.
Skye, meanwhile, sat in the conservatory (she only needed a pair of sunglasses and floppy straw hat to complete the picture) watching from the comfort of her chair.
She learned long ago that you don't cross chickens, they show the same mercy a velociraptor would have shown a human had they ever had the misfortune to meet.
I pushed the hens away, who clucked their disgust, and Niko accomplished his mission and retreated back inside.
Skye positively shook her head. Like me, she knows that, ten minutes later, Niko will be out again, stealing that tasty-looking cracker from the chicken run because he has the memory of a gnat, the learning capacity of a goldfish and he doesn't care about anything or anyone if food is involved.