I think I may have gained some insight into the mind of Lloyd (as scary as that may be!).
For the last two summers, Lloyd has endlessly persecuted two of our dogs: Gus and Falcor. He doesn’t bother any other animals here and literally never even looks at the other dogs, but those two he just cannot stop chasing and pecking. It has mystified me as to why just those two are his targets. And then as soon as it gets colder, he just stops and I don’t know why.
But this week I think I unlocked the secret.
We are having an unusually warm winter so far, it’s been well above freezing and dry (too dry) for weeks and suddenly Lloyd has been up to his antics again with poor Falcor and Gus. I too have been spending more time outside than a normal week in December and that’s how I connected the dots.
I made the connection when Evie’s little dog Happy ran across the barnyard towards an in-progress cat fight. Our cats have periodic grumpy days and loud rumbles and Happy likes to dance around them barking and twice that has landed him with some pretty nasty scratches. And so I hollered at him to stop and that’s when Lloyd, who has never once gone after Happy, went to chasing him. Needless to say, little Happy was mortified that mom was yelling and the giant white turkey was running after him. Happy hid behind me and soon as Lloyd got to where we both were, he started strutting and being obviously very proud of himself.
That’s when I realized that Lloyd thinks he is HELPING me by chasing naughty dogs.
It never made sense that he only chased two of our dogs and ignored the others but now I realize those are the only two dogs who are constantly getting into some sort of trouble in the yard . Gus for attempting to chase the horses and Falcor for jumping on people (a bad habit from his former owners). Those two dogs get told “bad dog, no!” at a significantly higher rate than all our other dogs combined (neither are terribly smart and the learning curve is very looooong for all things).
And Lloyd, demented but apparently trying to be dutiful, has been responding to my “disapproving bad dog voice” with his own display of “keeping order” on those naughty dogs. I realize that I don’t observe him harassing Gus and Falcor without me there as an “audience”. He is responding the emotion in my voice and thinks he is part of the “flock police” with mom. And so when Happy got in trouble for once, Lloyd stepped in the “help” there too.
And that’s probably also why the chasing disappeared as it got cold—both the dogs and especially myself were outside less and the cold and snow generally cuts down on all shenanigans. But with all the warm weather, my outside time is nearly at summer and fall levels and thus the “bad dog, no!” situations have again increased.
I have to say, I’m kind of touched that A. Lloyd pays attention to me that much and B. Thinks he is my second in command. I’ve always known turkeys are way more in tune with their humans than any other barnyard bird and that has certainly been true of our hens, but Lloyd is such a dimwit about so many things I really did not guess this was his reason for random dog persecution. I guess I need to get him a badge and officially deputize him.