Canine Culprit: Etseri, Svaneti


I was at the bottom of our road, where it meets the highway, waiting for some bread and egg deliveries for the shop, when one of my Ukrainian guests called. They had seen, and even filmed, a dog killing our rooster. What to do?

I was without Lali, so this one was up to me. Was the dog still around? Could they ID it if they saw it again? How badly damaged was the rooster? Yes, Yes, Not Badly. Once I finished my collections, I rushed back home. (The photo isn’t of this rooster, but of a different one, different circumstances, but it gets the message across.)

Another of the guests had kindly volunteered to deal with the fowl, plucking and cleaning it: no point in wasting it! The others told me that a neighbor had seen some of the action and might be able to corroborate. From an upstairs window, they had seen the dog go into the barn, take out the rooster and kill it; shouting from the window was ineffective, as one would expect. The dog did run away, though, and they had retrieved the bird, already dead.

I visited the neighbor. First a local boy’s dog seemed to be the guilty one, although the video wasn’t close enough to be conclusive, unfortunately. I took it to another neighbor without making an accusation, to ask for advice. He said that a new dog had attached itself to another neighbor lady, and that this one also had a reputation for chicken-killing: hers and others’. Hmmm! This seemed a much more likely suspect.

I then visited her with the video and saw the canine in question: again, unsure. She would be quite happy for us to kill the dog, though, if it was the one, as it had already proved to be a nuisance! Welcome to village justice.

I then returned home and asked for the best eyewitness. He and I checked out the last suspect close-up and he denied flatly that this was the one. Whose dog, then? We had already eliminated two possibilities!

A third one now entered testimony, however, belonging to another, far away neighbor boy who had been seen with it right before the incident. He was gone now, though, so this was going to be tricky. Also, my guests all had to leave the next day, so their accounts were going to lose value.

I was left with coq au vin and questions: Can I ask to see the last dog and compare it with the video? Yes: this might solve it. How can I prevent further such attacks? I must not lose the right to keep my barn door open for the poultry to come and go as they please and for them to roam!

1. I could state that I'll be leaving dog poison around the barn, and that it's dog owners' responsibility to leash their animals on my property. This would endear me to none of my near neighbors, whose dogs do move as they like and have not been a problem at all to date.

2. I could install a dog-deterring ultrasound device, as specific to them as the poison would be, near the barn; it would run on rechargeable batteries, but I'd have to buy it online and have it shipped in. No one would object to this, though.

3. I could make a chicken-wire half-height door for the barn, onto and over which the chickens could jump, but too high for dogs. This is my favorite choice, though admittedly it would solve nothing for risks outside the barn; everyone's chickens are entirely free-range anyway, not even recognizing their owner's fences. But this is likely the solution I'll choose.

As for the main suspect, I still have to confront its owner and demand that he prevent this from happening again. I should do this, for my own and others' poultry's safety. Good lessons learned!

Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at

He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

By Tony Hanmer

16 January 2020 17:59