Cutie, My Precious Turkey, Was a True Joy to Me
My farm has many chickens and turkeys no one wanted for one reason or another. Many times I’ve received calls about precious lives, or come home to find chickens on my porch with no note. Such was the case with Cutie. She had the misfortune to be the only turkey poult to hatch in an incubator, so I was called on to be her “mother.” Turkey poults cannot stand to be alone when they are little and will peep without ceasing, if left alone.
I took her to bed with me at night, holding her close to my breast. During the day, she stayed close to me, as young turkeys do with their mother hen. I ended up calling my little one “Cutie,” since that name would fit whether she was male or female, and I wasn’t sure at first.
Cutie grew up strong and beautiful. She was my best friend. If a stranger came around, she would act like a guard dog and not let anyone near her “mom.”
Soon it came time to lay eggs, and Cutie was for sure a female. She would sneak off in my house to lay her eggs. She was a house turkey, and a true joy to me. We’d go places together in my truck and she’d sit in the passenger seat and be so well behaved, watching as the world flew by.
One day I noticed she was no longer laying eggs and appeared not to be feeling well. I took her to my local vet and he said she was full of infection due to egg yolk peritonitis. This is when an egg does not come out but stays in the bird, causing an infection.
The vet told me Cutie needed surgery to remove the egg, or she would die. Unfortunately, he did not have the special anesthesia that birds need, which is different from cat and dog anesthesia. He said he would put Cutie to sleep but gave her only a ten percent chance of waking up, since he was going to be guessing the dose. I told him to take the chance.
While the procedure was being done, I waited in the next room. All of a sudden I heard the vet say, “She’s gone. We lost her.” As soon as I heard that, I ran into the room screaming, “NO!” As soon as I screamed, Cutie came back to life. The vet said, “I don’t believe what I saw.” Cutie wanted to be alive with me, her “mom,” once again.
Cutie and I had four more years together. She made it through her surgery with flying colors. She made it with a very talented surgeon.
She would follow me all through the house as she did as a little poult. We played games together. She understood me when I told her what game I wanted to play. Sometimes she’d get so ornery when I was busy with other jobs that she’d unroll the toilet paper in the bathroom.
At night, she slept on the sofa with her friend Turkey Poo. Turkey Poo entered Cutie’s life one year before Cutie’s passing. Cutie loved walnuts, almonds, unsalted potato chips, and a dear friend of mine and hers named Al.
When Al came over, he would sit in my rocking chair, and call to her, “Come on Cutie,” and she’d fly up on his lap and snuggle with him for hours as he caressed her with love. Cutie loved that. She also enjoyed the green grass and the sunshine. She had a favorite dirt hole she would always play in.
One day I noticed she was having problems with her bowels. I gave her medicine, but none of it worked. Finally I told Al that I needed to take her to the vet who had done her last surgery. I took her to the vet and they ran tests. The doctor said Cutie was full of fluid and she needed to have her female organs removed. So I scheduled the surgery for the following Wednesday.
When Wednesday came, I waited in the parking lot for any word. Before I handed her over, I gave Cutie a kiss and said, “Mommy will see you in a little while.”
After two hours, they came out and said there was a complication. When they opened her up, they found a huge tumor on her ovary. They gave me three choices. One, they could sew her back up and I could bring her back home. Two, they could remove the tumor. Three, they could euthanize her on the operating table. I asked them to try and take out the tumor.
Ten minutes into the surgery, the vet came out and told me she was gone. I cried so hard, they put me in a private room. I asked them to let me see her. I hugged her and cried, begging her to come back like she did before, but it didn’t happen. I CAN’T express the pain I endured losing her.
When I returned home, Turkey Poo looked for her for days. Eight days later, a vibrant Turkey Poo died. She died looking for Cutie.
You might say, “How can anyone become so close to a turkey or a chicken?” These birds all have a personality and they need, as well as give, unconditional love. If you would only give them a chance, you too could see and feel the treasure of their lives, as it enriches yours. They only need you to give them that chance. – Kathryn King, Scio, Ohio, March 2019
Kathryn King is a member of United Poultry Concerns and the author of Peeper: A Story of Unending Love about another beloved turkey of hers named Peeper.