Whether you’re a grown-up, a youngster, or one of those weird half-baked pimply faced, squeaky voiced disasters you’ve probably owned a pet at one stage or another. Pets can be seventeen dozen kinds of awesome; they’re great companions, they usually love you unconditionally (read “They think you’re the coolest fucking thing on the planet and would gladly follow you into glorious battle should some type of Zombocalyptic war scenario emerge”), and they can transcend the ‘pet zone’ to become members of the family, not just needy bottomless food pits (see “Babies”). Then there is the slightly less exciting part of pet-ownership I’m sure that we’re all familiar with; the Pet Responsibility Talk:
“Now Jeff,” (your name is now Jeff, just roll with it) “you must understand that this cat/dog/hamster/fish/chicken/horse/camel/mouse/Alot/squid is going to be your responsibility, and no one else’s. That means you’ll have to feed it, walk it, make sure it has a comfortable place to sleep, clean up its festering turds and make sure that it will have enough munitions to fend off the unholy zombie hoards.”
Of course, you eagerly agree to their terms unconditionally, after all, this is your first/third/twelfth pet and by golly gosh, you’re going to look after it much better than you did with your last cat/dog/gerbil/flea/muskrat/salmon/zebra/hedgehog/amoeba/hermit crab/elephant. You’ll prove it to your parents; you’ll show everyone just how responsible you can be! The first few weeks are usually no problem whatsoever; you’re happy to take it for a walk every afternoon. It took a world-class dump on the carpet? No worries! You’re more than happy to clean up its stinking piles of crap without a moment’s hesitation.
Then, as is with all relationships, the honeymoon period wears off. The capacity for tolerance wears thin. Maybe the first dozen or so times when your pet scratches its genitals on the sofa it’s kind of cute, you give your pet a stern but gentle reinforcement that reminds it that sort of behaviour isn’t permitted. Your pet gives you a look of regret and it might be genuinely sorry that it has let you down. But there’s a reason that humans are the dominant species, we have something that it seems many domesticated animals lack: long-term memory. This catastrophic shortcoming of my own house pets led to one such fateful afternoon that would leave us all changed, forever. This one specific instance I personally had to cover up for my Dog to such an extreme measure that even the Courts may judge me as an Accessory to Murder:
My dog is a Jack Russell, which, if any of you dear Readers have owned one before, would know that “Jack Russell” roughly translates to “Mischievous Rat-Bastard Whose Goal in Life is to Fuck Shit Up”. Now, on this particular sunny afternoon I was sitting out in the backyard enjoying a cool beverage and chatting to a couple of family members. My dog, which shall be henceforth known as Bronson, was inside the house probably sniffing his own arse or rolling around on the carpet for no obvious reason. Then, a peculiar thing happened: A chicken appeared in our back yard. Not just any chicken, mind you, no, this chicken was obviously very highly prized. She was enormous; her owners clearly fed her gourmet dinners, she was well groomed, her snow white feathers glistened in the sunlight. This was no ordinary egg laying feather factory like most pet chickens. She was a house pet; regarded as highly as any other ‘allowed-inside-of-the-house pet’ and the neighbours quite obviously showered her with love and devotion. She strutted around the backyard like she owned the damn place. How she made it over our high fencing, I don’t know, but there she was, nonetheless. She pecked at the ground and made quiet and content clucks every now and then. I walked over to her and picked her up, she was definitely held by people regularly, as she nestled into my arms to find the most comfortable position. I lifted her over my head and dropped her softly back over the fence on the neighbours’ side.
I had walked maybe two or three metres back towards the house, when I heard the flap of wings. I turned back around and there she was again, on our side of the fence.
BANG! Bronson flew through the dog door like a black and white cruise missile. He bolted across the backyard at a speed that would leave the fastest cheetahs bowing their heads in shame. Before I could even react he pounced on the chicken. She gave out one single “BA-KIRK!” as Bronson literally tore her limb-from-limb. Pieces of mutilated chicken were flying all over the lawn as Bronson happily shook her mangled corpse back and forth across the grass. Bronson’s white fur was now crimson red with the blood of his Victim. We all stood perfectly still for about 30 seconds, too stunned and petrified to react. My Dad was first to move; grabbing Bronson roughly by the collar he dragged Bronson away, locking him into the laundry. You could hear Bronson’s howls and barks from inside the house, he had been ripped away from his prized catch before he was done toying with it and he wasn’t the least bit happy.
What was left behind looked like a scene from a slasher film: blood, bones, feathers and organs were strewn across the lawn. There was nothing left to even resemble what used to be our neighbours’ beloved pet chicken. We were all in panic mode; it was like that scene out of Pulp Fiction when Vincent Vega shoots Marvin in the face:
“Oh my God, what the fuck do we do, man?!”
“Calm the fucking Christ down! Everything’s going to be all right, you hear?! Just shut the fuck up and do what I say! Go and get the shovel from the shed while I clean all of this blood up. We’ve gotta bury the evidence, you understand?”
“Fuck, man, I’m not going back to prison! I can’t go back!”
“JUST FUCKING DO IT!”
I was literally covered, head to foot, in chicken blood. We scooped up all of the itty little pieces of meat and bone and buried it in a shallow grave up the back of our yard, behind the storage shed. We were too pumped up on adrenaline to even think about the ramifications of our actions. We just had to cover our own asses without a second thought. Once the mayhem of it all settled down, the full weight of what we had done began to plague our consciences. That night I stood in the shower until the hot water ran out, memories of the mangled chicken playing over and over in my head.
The worst part of it all happened around three days later. We were sitting inside; Bronson was happily playing with a toy in the lounge room, blissfully unaware of any grotesque wrongdoings he had committed not 72 hours before. We had all been rather quiet over those few days following the death of the Chicken, all of us too disgusted and ashamed to say anything further, when there was a knock at the door:
“Hi, sorry to bother you, but we’re from next door. We don’t suppose you’ve seen our chicken, have you?”