Recently, I had the pleasure, once again, of stepping away from my comfort zone without the benefit of calculating the risks. This time, I had no choice. I was forced out.
As most Stay-at-Home-Moms will attest, the opportunity to run out for a few things when Daddy gets home -- even if it's just to the grocery store -- is like the Great Escape. Last Saturday evening, as soon as my husband's car rolled to a stop in the driveway, I jumped at the opportunity to make a run for... no, not the hills... CVS for some Triple Paste for the boys. It had been a long and tenuous 14-day Christmas vacation with the boys sick for 99% of it. I needed the break. I happily took Olivia who was still shopping for that one gift she really wanted but didn't get from Santa. As I accelerated up and over the Pearl Street Bridge I noted a streak of black in my peripheral vision.
Me: "Olivia??? Was that a... ROOSTER???"
Olivia: "WHERE? I WANT TO SEE IT!"
I let traffic pass safely, and backed down the bridge to confirm that I had, in fact, seen a large black rooster walking across a well-manicured lawn. In dusk's light, Olivia did not have a good view. She being an avid animal lover and me being a good mother (that day, anyway), I hopped out of the car to open her door for a better view. The rooster immediately made his approach, clearly NOT as intimidated by humans as I was of roosters. As such, we both ended up nearly in the middle of the road... me backing up in fear of being attacked by such a large and assertive bird! Thankfully, my bright orange parka (no, I do not hunt) helped me direct traffic around our little stand-off until I was finally able to coax him out of the road and back to the sidewalk where I opened the sliding door on the mini van so Olivia could get a better look at this majestic, black rooster. But, no sooner had I opened the door than the rooster hopped into the car!!!!! WITH Olivia.... LOL! Talk about violating comfort zones!
Plastered against the window screaming like the poor bird was Freddy Kruger -- talons out and fangs bared -- he quietly side-stepped Olivia's scene and nested down behind her seat. Olivia jumped out of the van as though she were parachuting from a burning airplane. We looked in at ?our? bird who was now very content in the warmth of the car. I slowly slid the slider shut (say THAT 5 times fast) as Olivia and I burst out laughing. Then, we got to canvassing all the homes on both sides of the street, finding only 2 people at home and willing to talk. "Nope! No one has a rooster that I know of." [By the way, generally, if your neighbor has a pet rooster, you'd know about it.... right around 5AM every day!] The second woman had just returned from CVS herself...buying meds for her sick sister who'd been visiting from Florida... "She said she heard a rooster crow yesterday morning. I thought she was just delirious with the flu!" (Truly! Would I lie?) After further investigation, we discovered that though there are some chickens in the neighborhood, no roosters lived anywhere around. (Can a rooster smell the scent of a chicken in heat from miles away, like dogs?) Furthermore, over the past few days the mailman had apparently attempted to find the owner to no avail. And, we learned, ultimately, someone had called the ASPCA but they never showed up.
So, the rooster was MY problem now... as he was in MY car. I called my husband to explain our delay and ask for advice. You know, NYPD exposes a guy to a lot of strange situations that need resolving. Unfortunately, my husband had no experience with roosters... not even working in the Bronx where anything can happen. So, Olivia and I drove around to a few local merchants who'd had petting zoos for the holidays to ask if there was room at the inn for just one night (until I found another solution). After a chorus of "No way!" I got a phone number from one that lead to an answering machine. Another dead end. So, we drove to the local pet store. The manager and all of his employees had no ideas for us but stopped laughing long enough to sell us a bag of cracked corn, give us a large box and wish us luck. About now I was figuring I'm the laughing stock of my town driving around telling folks a rooster jumped into my car. (A fact I'm certain my husband didn't believe until my daughter relayed the tale herself.) So, I tucked my proverbial tail between my legs and drove home to a husband who wanted it out of the car before it relieved itself (not his words).
The local police had a really good laugh about it too. No one had reported a lost rooster and "No, you can't bring it to the precinct" but they'd ask a guy on the night shift how to handle it since his family had chickens (Note: this last part was barely audible through the guttural male laughter). I got similar results when I called the emergency veterinary clinic and the ASPCA -- no one able to house a rooster at 7pm on a Saturday night -- though the former let me know, chuckling, that it sounded like something that would happen to her. With no answers and a rooster nesting in my car, out comes the old doggy crate and, with trepidation and absolutely no poultry-handling experience whatsoever, I coax the rooster out of his comfort zone and into the box. Then, into the house and into the dog crate. Multiple transfers that went too smoothly made me realize I was not dealing with a "wild" rooster. (Is there such a thing?) A bowl of water and some cracked corn and he settled in, quietly, for the night.
Olivia (excited): Mom, Are we keeping the rooster?
Me: ABSOLUTELY NOT!
At 8pm two police cruisers came to a stop in the front of our house. As the first officer circled my mini van with his flashlight, I yelled out the door, "Are you looking for a rooster?" The officer responded, "You got one?" "Yes," I said, "but he's not in the car anymore." With genuine surprise and his voice a pitch higher he exclaimed, "How'd you get it out of the car?" I explained to the officer as he admired our "chicken" (No sir, that's definitely a rooster), that it was obviously some one's VERY TAME PET because my kids had graduated from sticking their hands in the cage to wiggling their toes at the bars and, finally, putting their faces right up to the cage to pet and hand-feed cheerios to the rooster we'd now dubbed, "Baby". The officer (who shall remain nameless to save his pride) promised to check with his Dad who "has a bunch of chickens who just stopped laying eggs.... He might need a rooster!" The 2nd officer was just there to take pictures and laugh. I'm not sure she got any clear shots though because she was laughing too hard to steady the camera.
5:00 AM.... COCKADOODLEDOOOOOOOO! COCKADOODLEDOOOOOOOO!
By noon, I had 2 options for Olivia to choose from:  http://parrotsoftheworld.com/ where we were assured owner Marc Morrone would find "Baby" a good home (you might know Marc from his television show, "The Pet Shop With Marc Morrone") or,  http://partypetszoo.com/ where owner Andre Ricaud rescues abandoned, abused, neglected or unwanted exotic animals and pets and, with them, puts on educational shows for children about "wonderful animals that don't make such wonderful pets". Among other amazing animals he's cared for, there's been a 15'-long albino boa constrictor and an arctic fox. And, now he has a beautiful black rooster. We hope to hire Andre and his many exotic spokes-animals to educate us at the boys' birthday party in the Spring. As long as he promises to bring "Baby" along.
Sure, it was a stressful 24 hours of rooster ownership! Sure my husband wanted to kill me at first. But, what an absolutely wonderful experience! Knowing that we rescued this beautiful rooster from the cold, from dying of hunger and thirst, from potential attack by cat or dog, or from getting hit by a car was definitely worth the effort. In the end, it was an incredible learning experience for our kids and, I dare say, for my husband and I too! I never dreamed I could come to really care about a... ROOSTER! But, "Baby" endeared himself to our entire family. Yes, even my husband got attached and was caught talking to him. Surely, this story will be fodder for all-out belly laughing for my family every time we think of "Baby", our pet-for-a-day rooster!
I happily admit that I learned a lot about roosters, birds, and myself that I would not have if that rooster hadn't jumped into my car. I'm definitely happier knowing that I saved his life. Yes, it was uncomfortable operating outside of my comfort zone... owning a rooster for a day. But, perhaps, we're not really stepping outside of our comfort zone... but rather stretching our comfort zones... Making them a little bigger so that extra-ordinary things (like roosters) don't make us feel so UN-comfortable. Feeling less UN-comfortable means feeling MORE comfortable. And, that's GOT to increase our happiness quotient. It certainly worked for me.