Sylvia was attacked by two German Shepherds on a brisk September morning. Dave and I discovered her broken and bloody body several minutes after the attack and assumed, from the gruesome scene, that her motionless body was dead.
She was not dead. A glimmer of life kept her heart beating, kept her lungs expanding, and gave her just enough energy to glance a red marble eye toward us. It would be barbaric to leave her lying out in the lawn. So with a most delicate touch, Dave lifted her, carried her, and settled her in a comfortable place, shady and soft, where she could expire in peace, though probably in pain. Hopefully in minutes, not hours.
Three days later, Sylvia was still alive, and Dave had left the country. I placed a bit of food and water near her head, curious about her response. She attacked the nourishment with enthusiastic desperation. Hope planted its hooks in my sense of sensibility and sent its long influential tendrils out and down every neural pathway, consuming my capacity for prudence and clouding any and all good judgment. So when I found Sylvia flailing so pathetically in a puddle of mud and poop the next morning, there was only one thing to do: carry her to a nearby water source, wash her off, and take her into the house. Since Dave was gone, he would never know that I brought Sylvia into the house. He would have no idea that Sylvia had been placed in in-home hospice care. It would not occur to Dave that Sylvia spent her final hours warm, clean and dry in our bathtub. Dave would never know because surely, Sylvia would be dead by morning.
In the morning, Sylvia still struggled against the pull of death, and Rosie and Marvin had discovered her presence in the bathtub. They were slightly dubious but more curious, and within minutes had made their own way into the tub and were lying down beside her. Now there were witnesses. Witnesses who seemed to care. Guilted by purring nonchalance and the lazy-eyed, long-blinking ardor with which Rosie and Marvin heaped upon Sylvia, I spent the next five hours on Amazon ordering antiseptic for open-wound care, a liquid Rx formula for strength to put in her water, and hemp-oil because it just sounded like something she might want me to rub on her legs. I was now invested, fully committed emotionally and financially, to the repair of Sylvia, such a badly damaged chicken.
Weeks after coming into the house, Marvin still looks after Sylvia.