Dogs and cats are so mainstream. Goldfish? Boring. Rabbits? Typical.
But chickens… there’s more to them than meets the eye. We probably have more familiarity with them as food than pets, but they are surprisingly affectionate and intelligent critters.
You wouldn’t know that if you’ve never experienced the joy that is chicken ownership. One woman learned that chickens make great pets when she suddenly became a foster momma to a little yellow fluff.
Camille first met Bree when he was a mere five days old. He’d been abandoned or lost on the streets of New York City, but thankfully he made it into the hands of a caring rescuer.
The chick was alone in the world and Camille couldn’t bear to see him by himself. She took him under her wing and showed him around.
“I scooped him up and he seemed really content in my hand,” she told The Dodo, “and I had him do some office work with me. It was hard not to fall in love with him.”
She may have had fun with the baby chicken at work, but her concern didn’t end there. It only seemed natural to bring the chick home with her.
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“And I was leaving for the day, so it was like this knee-jerk reaction. It just came out of my mouth. I was like, ‘I’ll take him.’ I brought him home to foster him.”
She knew that chicks his age needed warmth and round-the-clock care, so she became his “surrogate mother.” He was her constant companion.
“He went everywhere with me,” she said. “He would sleep in my sweatshirt and cuddle up to me. And every day, I fell more and more in love with him. And I just learned very quickly that he’s this wonderful, sentient being that just wants to be loved like all of us. Just like a cat or a dog or a human baby.”
As Bree grew, Camille realized just how domesticated he had become, and how close the two had grown. She learned all sorts of new things about chickens that she’d never known before.
“I had fallen asleep on the sofa,” she related. “Bree was really quiet that day, like he really sensed that I wasn’t feeling well, and when I woke, he was laying across my chest.”
“I remember waking up thinking, I didn’t even know that chickens lay down. And so all of a sudden it became very aware, like this sentient being is bonded to me.”
“That was that turning point day where I thought, ‘Wow, I feel like he’s part of my family. I don’t know if I could give him to a sanctuary.'”
It can be hard to tell whether a chicken is a male or female, especially when they’re young. Males generally grow larger combs and tail feathers, and have a lankier build, while hens stay compact and, well, have more curves.
But when Camille heard Bree crow, she knew. A hen might’ve been able to fly under the radar, even though their “I just laid an egg” cackle can be pretty loud. But a rooster? Camille couldn’t hide Bree anymore.
Unlike a cat or a dog or a baby, Bree was not welcome in the city. Chickens are generally banned from most densely populated areas because they can become a nuisance in both the sound and smell departments.
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Camille had to make a choice. But for her, the decision had already been made.
“So here I was living in New York City at the time, with Bree the rooster, and I had to make a decision. And Bree made the decision for me, because I chose Bree,” she said.
“It was probably the best decision I ever made.”
They picked up and headed out of town to find somewhere they could both be happier. Now they have gardens and trees and plenty of spaces for both of them to explore.
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