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A Hen And Puppies

[Sept. 29, 1888.]

In reply to Mr. Ainger's question as to there being "any precedent for
such close intimacies between animals so widely separated in kind and
habit" as the dog and pigeon mentioned in his interesting letter, I can
mention two cases which have come under my notice this last summer at my
farm in Berkshire. In one case the friendship existed between a pullet
and a pig. The pullet never left the farmyard to join in the rambles of
the other fowls, but kept near the pig all day, occasionally roosting on
its friend's back when taking its afternoon nap.

The other case was more remarkable. A hen, with strong motherly
instincts, but no family of her own, acted for several weeks as
foster-mother to eight spaniel puppies. The real mother, a very gentle
creature, soon acquiesced in the arrangement. The hen covered the
puppies with her wings just as though they had been chickens, and
remained with them day and night. When they began to walk she was still
their constant attendant; when they learned to lap and eat a little she
would "call" them and break up their food. As they grew older the poor
foster-mother had her patience sorely tried. They barked and capered
around her, leading her altogether a sad life. After the puppies
deserted her she was often seen sitting close to their mother, the pair
apparently quite understanding each other. My children were naturally
delighted to watch these strange sights, and the hen, though not at
other times very tame, maintained perfect equanimity while they played
with the puppies around her.


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