If I’m being honest, this might be one of the stranger things I’ve done. I’m not sure why it’s weird to walk a chicken, but for some reason walking dogs is normal, walking cats is semi-normal, and any other animal ranges through various levels of odd with food animals being the oddest of all. The logical part of my brain says that walking all animals should be equal levels of normal, but it does feel a bit odd holding a leash with a chicken on the other end. It was something I wanted to at least try though, if only so I could say I’ve done it, so I squashed down my social anxiety and headed out with my calmest hen, one of Suki’s lightest leashes, and the smallest harness Rogz makes.
I decided to take Sel to an open area of beach where there aren’t usually many people, and where I knew we would be unlikely to run into dogs. As much as I would have loved to take her to Soames Hill to get some photos at the top, we often run into a lot of really irresponsible dog owners there and I didn’t want to chance Sel getting attacked.
How Sel Reacted
At first Sel was pretty overwhelmed. For the past two years she has only known my yard, so seeing a big open world was a bit of a shock to her. Feeding her her favourite foods really helped get her out of her shell and exploring. She went from being sort of scrunched down and subdued to up, running around, and in my face begging for treats.
She wasn’t overly interested in venturing around too much, but she did voluntarily hop up on some rocks.
Overall I had her out for about 15 minutes, which was plenty of time for her. When I took her home she wasn’t overly tired, and quickly returned to her usual flock routine and her matriarchal duties of quietly lording over everyone.
How the General Public Reacted
The reactions from the few people we met were pretty mixed. One woman was quite interested until she found out Sel was a chicken, then she gave us a weird look and walked away. Her loss.
There was a group of woman on the deck of a nearby house, and one of them was very interested (and, I think, at least a little amused). She wanted to know if Sel lived in the house or in a coop, then told me about a rooster she visits that always wants to be picked up and given attention.
The other women didn’t say anything, which in many ways spoke volumes. I can live with being weird. Weird is fun.
Would I do it again? Maybe. I do think it was positive for Sel, and that she would adapt quickly. I find my d’Anvers need a lot more mental stimulation than my Easter Eggers do to stay happy. Despite having plenty of enrichment in their coop my d’Anvers hens still get bored and they then redirect that onto over-grooming each other’s beards. Zeste is missing her cheek fluff, and Sel has a small bald patch on her chin. This actually seemed to help with that, at least for a few days anyway. As I mentioned in the beginning about irresponsible dog owners though, I’m pretty nervous about that. If I could be guaranteed that I wouldn’t run into out of control dogs I would take her out in a heartbeat, but as that is quite common here I doubt this will become a regular thing.