By: En Ni Hsiao
This story took place about sixteen years ago. I do not know if having a chick as a pet is common in other countries, but in my country, it wasn’t back then. At that time, people often had pets like dogs or cats; for small pets, they had hamsters but no chicks. As I used to watch animal planet all day, the crocodile hunter and his adventures in the jungle were fascinating to me. Then, I became the little young girl, eager to have a pet animal. Although I wanted an exotic pet, something like a tiger or a panda, I would have been happy too if I received a dog or a cat. Who knows that I received a chick.
I can still recall how it all happened. We went to an event called San Juan at the school I was attending; it was mid-June. San Juan is a typical event made annually in June-July, where people gather to enjoy delicious food and play games. At that time, my family and I moved to this country for about a year. San Juan was a whole new thing for us; as a kid, amazed by new things, I tried all the food and played all the available games. In my last game, which consisted of choosing a balloon in a pool of balloons, if the balloon had a red flag inside, you would win a prize; if not, you gained nothing but also lost nothing. As someone who had never won anything, I wasn’t expecting to win. I was even less hoping to win a chick.
The chance to have an animal at home had come closer, but at first, I was not going to accept it because chicks weren’t on my list of possible pets. But, as soon as the man hosting the game showed me the prizes, I felt heartbroken. The little chicks were dyed in colors, and I wanted to give at least one of them a better life. I chose the pink chick as most girls would do and named it Tata.
My parents agreed, and we took Tata home. I had to search for information on how to take care of a chick because I was a newbie to keeping pets, even more chicks. What was I going to feed it? Did it need special care? Tata adapted fast to its new environment, as most chicks stick to their mother until a certain age and need to sleep under their wings to feel safe. Tata slept on a little box with its plushie. It did look for mom the first night, but it soon ceased.
I kept Tata in our backyard and would usually feed it in the morning and afternoon. I usually fed Tata some grains; sometimes, I gave her little treats of fruit and other nuts. Tata would come running towards me whenever she saw me passing by the backyard as if greeting me. When the sun was about to set was the time we played together. I would throw a little ball, and Tata would run after it. Having Tata as a pet made me realize that chicks are very smart.
They learn very fast and can also be very daring. Tata once fought the neighbor dog that entered our house when we were having a nap. Tata was also very picky about who to be friends with; no matter the times my uncle fed her strawberries, which were her favorite, Tata did not like my uncle. Tata would only come when my mother or I called her, and in some rare cases, she would go near you if you had something that called her attention. When left alone, Tata would rest under the warming sun and sometimes catch some bugs to snack on.
Six months passed by, and Tata grew as I grew. I started to attend school for a longer time and had less time to spend with Tata. Since Tata was pink when we got her, we thought she would indeed someday become a beautiful hen. For me, Tata was coming close to her mature age, so I wanted to find a mate for her. What I didn’t know was that she wasn’t mature yet.
The She we thought Tata was, was actually a He. We had a big surprise because I thought Tata would like to be with a rooster, so we got a rooster to make her company. It turned out that they hated each other and fought every so, not nasty fights because Tata was not very aggressive and would often let things go before it got too serious. With my doubt in mind, I took both of them to the vet, coming to know that Tata was a rooster, not a hen. That discovery explained why they did not enjoy each other’s company very much. That made me learn that some roosters don’t have a comb until a certain age, and Tata was still young to reach that age, which made us confuse it with a hen.
Our small backyard was not big enough for another hen to join the family. We wanted Tata and Peko to live happy lives as roosters do, so farewell was a must. It was hard for me, especially to let Tata go, but I am glad I made the right choice for both of them back then. Luckily, one of our family friends had a little farm not too far from our home. We sent Tata and Peko there, where they had more space to run and wander and even got to know some real hens. By looking at how they ran through the meadows, I realized that they enjoyed their lives there as mother nature tailored them to do. We often visited Tata and Peko on the weekends, as the farm was only a five-minute drive from home. My first experience of having a pet ended like that.
Tata and Peko will always remain in my memory, as life changed my perception of animals. They taught me that you do not have to have an ordinary pet like your schoolmate or neighbor to feel the joy of having a pet.