Since Easter is coming up, I was thinking of how much fun we had as kids, searching for Easter eggs that the Easter Bunny (whose connection to Christianity is tenuous at best) had hid around the backyard.  Fun, that is, until the year that the Wester Chicken visited us.

We awoke early that crisp spring day, the sun cresting over the horizon, rays of warm light beaming through the Piney Woods of East Texas.  Mom and Dad were up already, cooking us a breakfast of pancakes and Owen’s Country Sausage.  We’d be getting dressed in an hour or so for Easter Mass at the Catholic church, but we had just enough time to scarf down our breakfast and go outside to hunt Easter eggs.

Except there were no eggs to be found.  Instead, our backyard had dog shit hidden around it.  Big piles, like those left by a Labrador Retriever or Doberman.  Not the kind left by our toy poodle.  We cried and cried, unable to comprehend why there was excrement rather than just eggs left to be found.

But we moved on.  The Easter Bunny had still left us Easter baskets, filled with sugary treats that made us forget our predicament.

The Easter Bunny came through the next couple of years, before declaring us to be too old for such things.  And, most importantly, we forgot about the misfortune of the dog shit.

Until a few years ago, that is.  I was lying in bed, unable to sleep on a hot summer night, when it popped into my head.  The dog shit.  What did it mean?  Where did it come from?  What happened to the eggs that we had diligently applied PAAS and Dudley’s dyes to the night before Easter morning?

I started asking around, “Did you, as s kid, ever wake up on Easter morning only to find that the eggs you meticulously dyed had been replaced with dog shit?”.  Surprisingly, several people replied in the affirmative.  I was on to something.

Further research, involving trips to the library and Google-fu, led to me discovering the secret of the Wester Chicken.

“What?” you ask.

By the middle of the Twentieth Century, the world’s chickens had come to discover that their eggs were being misappropriated by both people and the Easter Bunny as some sort of game during the Paschal season.  To combat this, in 1972, the chickens convened the The International Congress of Concerned Chickens on The Easter Problem (Le Congrès international des poulets concernés sur le problème de Pâques) in Montreal.  After much deliberation, they nominated Antoine van der Cluck to be the first Wester Chicken.

The Wester Chicken would travel the world, following the movements of the Easter Bunny, replacing the hidden eggs in people’s yards with dog shit.  The only problem was, where does one acquire so much dog shit?

The Congress hit upon the idea of creating dog parks…places where unsuspecting people could take their dogs to play.  They would provide bags with which people could clean up their dog’s shit and deposit into special containers that were ostensibly trash cans but were actually collection points for dog shit.  Periodically, chicken agents would collect these bags of dog shit and forward it to the Wester Chicken’s Headquarters in Ossining, New York, where it would be carefully preserved in a 7,500 square meter facility for distribution.  Since the chickens lacked the technology used by the Easter Bunny to make it to every household during the night before Easter (technology licensed from ClausCo, Inc.), only a subset of houses would be visited each year.  Eventually, both humans and the Easter Bunny would get the message.

Alas, it hasn’t happened yet.  The chickens haven’t been victorious in their quest to end the misuse of their precious eggs.  Dudley’s and PAAS are still making dye.  Kids everywhere still get up on Easter morning to hunt eggs (though, one supposes, some are disappointed to find feces instead).  But maybe, just maybe, this will finally be the year.

A typical, yet overloaded, dog shit collection station, ready for harvesting: