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Brandy

BrandyFriendlyRooster

Here is an excerpt from The Lucky Ones about Brandy:

Brandy was one of the lucky ones. He had been rescued from a dumpster before it was too late and brought, as a chick, to a Pennsylvania farm animal sanctuary called Ooh-Mah-Nee.  He grew up in its peaceful setting, where every morning, the sanctuary directors, Jason and Cayce, called for him for his morning breakfast. Within seconds, Brandy would come running enthusiastically to his name. He would allow them to stroke his shiny black feathers and even seemed to enjoy a hug, resting calmly in the cradle of arms. His friendly, good nature allowed him the privilege of free roaming the farm and whenever his name was called, Brandy would come a’runnin.  

A tearful godbye

A tearful goodbye

After years of rescuing and providing refuge to hundreds of animals, Ooh-Mah-Nee closed its doors. Running a farm animal sanctuary is hard work and so is keeping it funded. After months of phone calls and arrangements, Jason and Cayce moved their animals to other sanctuaries, and we welcomed many of them, including Brandy, now about nine years old. With tears in his eyes, Jason introduced us to Brandy and told us all about him as he held him in his arms. It was clear he loved him and was having a hard time saying goodbye. He was worried that Brandy might become depressed if we didn’t give him the same attention and name recognition he had for all those years. We assured him that we would shower him with love and resume the social interaction that Brandy so clearly enjoyed—and that we were thrilled to do it.

Good Morning!

Good Morning!

We immediately started up the morning greeting ritual by calling Brandy from the pig barn, where he slept at night with a small group of hens. And every morning he would come running out, stopping once he reached my feet to allow me to pick him up. He held perfectly still while I kissed his head and stroked his feathers, giving him a squeeze before I put him down to enjoy his breakfast alongside the hens who were already feasting. Throughout the day, we’d stop and dote on him, often bringing him into the house for treats and one-on-one time. Doug and I just couldn’t get over what an affable bird he was. We had other roosters, and some that we’d even call friendly, but Brandy would actually seek us out.

Breakfast

Breakfast

On many mornings, he’d wake up, push his little body through the pig-door, trot up to our house, and stare into our kitchen through the back door, waiting for us to open it for him at the crack of dawn. We’d let him in, always with a warm “Good Morning Brandy!” and set him back down where he’d stand at my feet while I cut up some grapes into bite-sized pieces for him—his favorite. Then Doug would start coffee while I prepared breakfast for the dogs (Mio, Frida and Carli at the time) and a special bowl for Brandy who would eat right alongside them. It was such an incredible thing to witness. He loved canned vegetarian dog food, applesauce and scrambled eggs from our hens, which we also fed to our dogs and many animals on special diets.

While I whirred around the kitchen preparing to head out on the farm to start the day, Brandy would find his way over to one of the dog beds and enjoy a full-bellied nap while the dogs went out to romp. He was precious—and he was almost a decade old. The extra food and nap time was good for him so Doug would tiptoe around to clean up the kitchen and wait for him to wake up.

The ladies bow in respect

The ladies bow in respect

After his mid-morning nap, Brandy would head back outside to spend time with his hens and lead them all around the farm. He was a real gentleman with the ladies and would stand guard as they pecked and wandered. Later in the day, I’d call him back to the house to see if he wanted to come in after my farm chores were done. I’d stand there with an enormous, giddy-with-love smile, watching his little black form make a beeline down the center path of the farm toward me, leaving the hens in the pig barn.

Post-breakfast ritual

Post-breakfast ritual

He would sit next to me on the sofa while I worked from my laptop and returned phone calls from the day. I loved his company and the sweet sounds he made when he laid down and allowed me to stroke his feathers. Brandy would even happily oblige a request to sit on a visitor’s lap. He never seemed to mind being held, and many people wanted to hold him. Sometimes, if they were sitting down, he’d jump up in their laps! For a lot of visitors who had never spent time with farm animals, a huggable, friendly rooster meant serious cognitive dissonance. But there it is: roosters can be downright cuddly, and Brandy was the sweetest and brightest kind of living proof. I think he knew that he wore the badge for this honorable job, an ambassador for farmed animals, and he relished his role.

Will and Brandy

Will and Brandy

One special friend of Brandy’s was Will, who was about 11 years old when he first started coming to WFAS. He met Brandy the first time he visited the farm with his parents. Since he was in a wheelchair, I placed Brandy in his lap to meet him, which just thrilled Will to death. For his part, Brandy gave every indication of being delighted to rest and cluck there for as long as Will wanted. After that, Will came back to the farm again and again with his family just to spend time with Brandy.   

Caregiver Robin Henderson (now Robin Williams) and Brandy

Caregiver Robin Henderson (now Robin Williams) and Brandy