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© St. Petersburg Times, published October 6, 2002
Dechardonae Gaines and I would not appear, on the surface, to have a lot in common.
She is 2 years old, much smaller than I, likes to bake, lives in Tarpon Springs and is generally more familiar with chickens than I am or care to be.
But we have both been attacked by common farm animals in situations that are scary and, I presume here to speak for her, not nearly as funny as other people might think.
Dechardonae is the little girl attacked, not once, but three times, by a rooster Monday as she carried her Easy Bake Oven along a sidewalk near her home.
She was not seriously injured by the rooster, named Rockadoodle Two, which after a brief but assuredly awkward police chase, was captured and sentenced to live in Land O'Lakes. Of that we can be glad.
But all of that Dr. Doolittle stuff quickly goes out the window when animals with cute names portrayed in entertainment media as bucolic, harmless and downright cute go whacko.
I have been attacked, in my time, by a crazed cow that didn't want me following her to check on her excretory habits, a squirrel, a pig and, on one notable occasion, by Brenda the Attack Goose.
The cow was part of a fundraiser in a New Port Richey park a few years back where "cowflop bingo" was the game.
The idea is that you sell off squares on a large open area, set the cow loose, and when the cow relieves herself (a fairly frequent occurrence), you mark the square that was the recipient of the deposit and pay the owner.
This cow, named Bessie, wanted no part of me from the time west Pasco businessmen Dewey Mitchell and Alan Crumbley let her out of a trailer and into the park. Actually, she wanted every part of me, and all of them smashed.
The thing charged me every time she set eyes on me, surprising since that wasn't the end I was really following, until I finally dived under a fence, destroyed my glasses and stayed outside the fence, squinting, until she did what we had brought her there to do. Mitchell finally stopped giggling long enough to tell me that stressed cows frequently fixate on the first person they see after a stressful event. In my case, the trailer ride to the park was the event, and I was the lucky person.
Former Pasco sheriff's Maj. Paul Veslock and I spent one very long afternoon in 1975 dressed in full football equipment, chasing a piglet around a large pen full of what one would expect in a pig pen. We were playing on the police team in a police vs. firefighter football game, and Veslock had decided a piglet would make a cute mascot. The piglet and, more importantly, its large and angry mother, disagreed loudly and violently, and we wound up empty handed and were asked by Veslock's fellow law enforcement officers not to board the team bus until we were hosed down.
The squirrel attack was brief and vicious and marked the last time I will ever pet an allegedly tame squirrel. Brenda was one goose I will never forget.
It was in the early 1980s, and I was responding to a call from a reader about neighbors who had a "watch goose." I thought it was funny until Times photographer Bob Moreland and I approached the house and Brenda became about as instantly fond of me as had the cow, squirrel and pig.
Moreland shot away as I was soundly nipped, on a sensitive part of my body, by the goose who, I learned later, was a male (and probably tired of being called Brenda) and was very territorial.
I have since left the yard to the goose, the pen to the pig, the tree to the squirrel and, as far as I know -- or care -- the cow is still in charge of Sims Park.
I just didn't want Dechardonae Gaines to feel like the Lone Ranger and to tell her that if any of her kindergarten teachers somewhere down the road say they are going on a field trip to Old McDonald's farm, she should tell the teacher that she and the other kids can moo, quack and cluck as much as they want to, but Dechardonae and I aren't going unless there is a fence.
A sturdy one.