Pet Tales

Pet Tales: Not just cats and dogs

Erin Palchak and her chicken, Rainbow, last year. Rainbow died in October.
Erin Palchak and her chicken, Rainbow, last year. Rainbow died in October.

When people tell stories about their animal companions, the stories are usually about a dog or cat. But there are other animals that become part of the family. This story is from Erin Palchak of Arroyo Grande and her late friend Rainbow, a chicken.

“I know this seems rather silly, but chickens have a special place in Arroyo Grande, and this pet has a special place in my heart now and forever. I hope sharing her story will ease the pain.

“Her name was Rainbow — she was born in March of 1997 and died Oct. 3, 2011. My parents bought her for my sister and me when I was in fourth grade and when my sister was in second grade. We had wanted a pet so badly. I remember shortly after getting the chicks, I brought them into my class for show and tell. I was ridiculed for the rest of elementary school; even adults came up to me (then a fourth-grader) and asked me when the barbecue was. Bullies called me ‘chicken woman’ for the rest of the year.

“But Rainbow was picked on as well. The younger birds ripped her feathers out, and when I discovered this last winter, my dad and I spent a day building a private pen so she could live out the rest of her days in peace — and she did.

“The last time I was at home, I let her out as often as I could. She explored the yard very slowly, unsteady, faltering in her age, and stumbling if you picked her up. I sat with her next to me on a lounge chair in the sun, just listening to the sounds of the neighborhood. She dozed and made a cooing/accepting sound, I was sure it was the last time I would see her alive.

“Rainbow lived with a strength and grace that I would be blessed to achieve in my life. Her existence was not complicated, but it was significant to me, and knowing your life has touched another is all any of us can really hope for in this world.

“An old Shaker song says, ‘ ’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free, ’tis the gift to come down where we ought to be. And when we find ourselves in the place just right, ’twil be in the valley of love and delight.’ ”

If you have a story or photos of your furry, feathered or scaly friend, please email them to me at pettales@the tribunenews.com or mail to Pet Tales, c/o The Tribune, P.O. Box 112, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.

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