Our noble rooster Mr. X passed away on November 14th. We almost lost him the week before Christmas last year so the past ten months were a gift. Arthritis was his major problem. His last year or so was a quiet one compared to his previous 14 years of traveling around the country visiting nursing homes, garlic festivals, friend’s homes, and fourth grade classes. His last public appearance was at a local garden club where he nobly sat in the crook of my arm for a half hour as I lobbied for the 2008 California Proposition 2 to free millions of chickens from their inhumane cages. I wanted the audience to experience chickens as sentient beings that we should not abuse. In that short time the members got to know and love him as we did. He even nodded when I told them that he didn’t like cold French fries, only hot ones, and that he’d never met a dog he couldn’t dominate.
As I walked through the audience with him he patiently let them touch his glorious feathers and to feel how warm he was. And of course, he didn’t poop on me, much to their surprise. But then he never did poop when you held him unless you didn’t pay attention to his squirming-I-want-to-get-down warning.
The house feels empty now. I still listen for his faint crow I would hear from the garage every morning. I miss him waddling up the walk after me. His walk through the house to go to his dog carrier in the garage every night, and his constant excitement and clucking when I offered him a handful of cantaloupe seeds or some lettuce leaves from the garden. And of course, the neighborhood children miss his cock-a-doodle-do when they would come to visit and feed him. This gorgeous chicken has left an indelible mark on his part of the world and will be remembered in all our minds for decades to come.