I have a pet rooster. His name is Elvis.
(Sorry about the bad picture. It doesn’t really do him justice, but it’s all I have at the moment.)
I have no real clue as to what led me to believe that I needed to raise three newly hatched chicks in my apartment during the last semester of grad school. I just thought it was something I had to do, so I brought home Elvis, his brother (Costello) and his sister (Soul Sister). They were the cutest chicks ever–some random chicken mutt mix of silky and bantam (I think).
I wanted to raise the chicks to be unafraid of humans so that I could take them on community service outings. They weren’t imprinted on me; I just wanted to desensitize them to human touch. I brought them home when they were only a few days old, and they started out in a humble cardboard box with a small light shining in it to keep them warm. I had no clue when I brought them home just how messy three little chicks can be, but I learned quickly to clean the box morning and night.
I used to line the three up on a towel on my lap, and we’d watch TV together. They were really into Lost for a long time. I would put them in a cat carrier together and cart them on two-hour drives back and forth between school and home on the weekends; they were well-traveled little chicks.
Eventually, Elvis and Costello grew up and started acting like real roosters. Sadly, they hated each other and would fight incessantly over Soul Sister. That little hussy. I had to separate the three, and since Elvis was the biggest, he was out on his own. By this time, I knew they had to go back to take up permanent residence on the farm. It’s oddly not realistic to keep three grown chickens in an apartment, especially when two of them are roosters. Roosters who crow. Roosters who crow at all hours, despite the myth that they only crow at dawn.
I took the three back to the farm, and there they lived happily for several years. Costello and Soul Sister were together when tragedy struck one night. They were killed by either a raccoon or a fox (we’d caught both getting into the hen house). Luckily, Elvis was on his own, so his inability to get along with his brother saved his life.
Elvis has now been to a number of different nursing homes and schools. He doesn’t mind being cradled in someone’s arms, and he’ll either fall asleep (which can look alarmingly like he’s keeled over) or sit there and “talk” under his breath. Meaning that he’ll make very soft little clucks, which I can only assume indicate that he’s content. He’s equally happy to be let down on the ground so that he can scrounge around for food. I don’t have to worry that he’ll wander off; he keeps an eye on the crowd and follows us as we move.
I love taking Elvis with the group when we take the llamas to nursing homes. The older folks love to see the rooster because many of them were raised on farms, but they no longer get to see farm animals. They love the llamas for the same reason; they’re bigger animals that remind folks of the livestock they knew growing up. Elvis is always happy to do his part in bringing a smile to their face.