Kelly Rutkowski and Simon

The author and her late rooster.

Simon was my first rooster. He was given to me four years ago by a friend who hatched too many roosters. Simon and I didn’t always get along – I had to work with him, but he sure taught me a lot about rooster behavior.

Watching Simon take such great care of his hens over the years was inspiring. There isn’t another creature on Earth as majestic and selfless as a rooster. I knew I could always count on Simon. He’d always let his hens eat first, and he made the most adorable noises to let them know when he found a treat. Whenever there was a dispute between his hens, Simon would break it up like an impartial referee. If the hens needed help finding somewhere to lay their eggs, Simon was there. When outside exploring, he’d stay on the lookout for predators and alert everyone of potential danger.

You've probably already gathered this, but I’ve always loved animals. Throughout my life I’ve kept many a pet – guinea pigs, rabbits, a horse, ducks, sugar gliders, dogs, cats. I can unequivocally say a chicken – especially a rooster – is every bit as affectionate as any of these animals. (If not more so.)

Chickens are also a lot smarter than people think. You can teach them tricks just like you would a dog! I taught Simon to jump through a hula hoop.

When I first noticed that something was off with Simon, I rushed him to the vet. We discovered he had tumors in his gastrointestinal tract. The tumors had grown so large that they were causing severe problems. My choices were euthanasia or palliative care. I chose palliative care.

From that day forward, I tried to make every day special for my Simon. With support from Leesburg Veterinary Hospital, Simon and I were given four precious weeks together. Instead of leaving Simon inside the coop with the other birds, I mostly kept him with me. It was his turn to be taken care of.

Since Simon loved exploring the outdoors – especially searching for bugs – I took him to parks and playgrounds around town where he could roam relatively free. I even took him to the bug capital – an area adjacent to the Potomac River. We visited the farmers’ market. He came with me to run errands around town. He even assisted me in a backyard chicken workshop at the Fairfax County Shelter.

While out and about, Simon and I got to meet lots of people from the local community. Everybody was blown away by how friendly and personable Simon was. (This was, of course, after asking the question, "Am I seeing this correctly? Is that really a chicken with you?")

Part of me wants to feels like there could never be another rooster like Simon. But the truth is there are many, many roosters out there like him – roosters who need a home, roosters who need to be given a chance. If you're interested in learning more about how you can help more roosters like Simon, or need help with any behavioral issues with your rooster, contact me at ( or come to my workshop Oct. 5 at the Montgomery County Shelter in Maryland, where you can also see some roosters do some tricks!

Kelly Rutkowski


(1) comment


Love it, love it, love it. Godspeed Simon (and Kelly.) I wish we could have some hens as we have the space for it. But our HOA has way too much time on their hands and would go into overdrive.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.