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
he 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.