Where I come in my back door there’s a small dresser with a few things on top of it. It’s just a little shoe closet from Ikea but it’s handy for putting things down on.  On top of it  there’s always a small lamp, a pair of mittens or gardening gloves, depending on the season, and a bowl filled with black oil sunflower seeds for the chickens. Every time I go out the back door, I grab a handful and throw them into the chicken run.

The last week of December, just before Christmas I knew something wasn’t right with Cuddles when she refused to eat them.  I didn’t get too upset because I’d nursed this little chicken back from the brink more than once.  More than twice.  So many times in fact that I’d stopped getting frantic when I saw she was sick because I knew with some antibiotics and syringe feeding for a few days she’d get better .

The last week in December, Cuddles didn’t get better.

I got her 5 years ago from a long gone boyfriend who decided to surprise me with a box full of day old chicks on Easter morning. Obviously he isn’t gone because of his inferior present buying skills. He was astonishingly good in that department. He even had the foresight to supply me with the one thing that would get me through his walking out the door one day. Cuddles.

She was the second smallest chicken in the box of 6 chicks, and even when she was fully grown she was still a lot smaller than the other chickens. I don’t know how much experience you have with chicks but they’re about as cute a thing as God ever made if you believe in that sort of thing.  If not, … she was as cute a thing as Disney could ever make.   Well this one chicken, the second smallest one as I said, took it upon herself to love me like her mama.  She followed me around, clucked to be picked up and sat quietly and contentedly on my lap for as long as I could stand to sit there knowing there were about a billion things to be done around the house.

So when the fella left, she’s what saved me.  Not a therapist, not pills, not crying.  Cuddles. A little brown chicken.  I sat for hours with her relaxed in my lap, her wing stretched down so I could rub the feathers under there.  She’d settle in letting her eyes close, perfectly happy to keep me company until I decided it was time to tackle the world again.

I’d like to say it’s because I’m special.  Because I have some sort of other worldly chicken intuition but the truth is, it was her.  That little chicken liked everyone.  She settled into the tiny laps of kids from around the neighbourhood happily letting them inspect every inch of her, usually the first real livestock they’d ever been close to.  She sat in the lap of a neighbour whose husband had just died and made her laugh.

She wasn’t named Cuddles for nothin’.

Closing the door to the cold behind us, I laid Cuddles down in the makeshift coop I’d created for her in my mudroom.  She wasn’t well.    She’d been living in the mudroom for 3 days so I could constantly check on her and keep her body temperature up.  I wondered if she wouldn’t be happier inside the regular coop with her friends, so that afternoon I had placed her back outside with them.  It was cold that night and she didn’t have the energy to even jump up on her roost so I brought her back in.

I put a small heater in the mudroom, covered the floor with towels to warm it up a bit and made a little nesting box out of some straw and an old wood butter box.  I got her all fed and warmed up then gave her another syringe of antibiotics.  I tucked a bit more straw into her nesting box, put Cuddles inside, gave her a little kiss on the head and told her it was O.K.  She could go.

I knew when I woke up she’d be gone.

I didn’t sleep most of the night and when I finally gave up and came padding downstairs at around 6 in the morning she lifted her head up and looked right at me.

I’ll take this moment to confess that I hoped all night long that Cuddles would die.  That I’d wake up and it would be over.  My stress, her misery … all of it.  You can judge me if you want but I could not, under any circumstances kill her myself.  I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t have chopped her head off any more than I could have chopped my own mother’s head off.

I picked Cuddles up, gave her a bit of food and some water which she ate on her own, and brought her into the living room with me where I sat with her for the morning.

At 12:30 that afternoon I called a local vet.  I may not have been able to do it, but it had to be done.  I scheduled an appointment to have her euthanized.

I was to bring her in at 6:00 p.m. that Friday night just as the vet’s office was closing.

These had been really tiring, stressful days filled with trying to keep her alive, Christmas planning and the general freak show that is the holiday season.    When I called the vet’s office at 5 o’clock to make sure the vet who was putting Cuddles down was back from his house calls the receptionist (who I’d had really unfortunate dealings with earlier in the day) said, Oh No.  He’s not here.   I don’t think he’s coming back.  I explained that I had an appointment to have my pet put down.  He was coming back to the office especially for me.  She sympathetically said “I dunno.  I don’t think he’s coming back though.  Maybe he can see you on Monday.“.  I very unpolitely asked if maybe she could CALL THE MAN AND FIND OUT????  This particular receptionist didn’t seem all that concerned that I had a dying animal in my lap and  I’m not sure what her true vocation in life is but I can tell you right now it isn’t being a receptionist at an animal hospital.  I seriously doubt if she has the common sense to plant peanuts for a living.

At 10 minutes to 6 o’clock I finally called back when I never heard from the receptionist again. “Yeah, no he’s not coming back, she said.  You’ll have to reschedule for Monday.”  I asked once again if she’d actually spoken to him and got some sort of non answer from her at which point I told her she was an idiot and hung up on her.  I also swore. And I’d do it all over again.  She was an idiot who made an already horrible situation almost unbearably worse.

It was Friday night at 6 o’clock.  No other vet would even be open.  And even if they were, finding a vet who would be willing to put a chicken down was never going to happen.  Putting anything avian down is very different than a dog or cat.  It’s harder.

Cuddles was going to have to struggle on her own until Monday, looking up at me like I could do something about it, and me knowing I could  … but just didn’t have it in me to do it.

Then it hit me.  That vet that gave me a bit of advice about Cuddles before.  He was actually a cat vet but he’s a poultry judge who has chickens himself, and he worked part time at a Cat Clinic not far from where I live.

I looked up the number and called right away.  The receptionist answered and told me yes, Dr. Camilleri was working that day but they were closed.  I explained the situation to her.  I blurted out everything about Cuddles and how I knew it seemed stupid because she was a chicken but she was a pet an she was suffering and another vet had just cancelled on me and I’d been trying to help her for days and she just needed help otherwise she’d be like this all wekeend.  Then she said, You know what? Let me call you back in a minute.

And she did.

Dr. Camilleri told me to come up right away.  He understood and he wouldn’t go anywhere until I got there with Cuddles.  I picked Cuddles up in her butter box and walked her out to the car.  It was dark by now and everything is worse in the dark but I felt more relieved than I had in days.

With one act of selflessness, one act of kindness this man who I’d never met, turned my day completely around.

It took about 12 minutes to get to the clinic.  I carried Cuddles inside, and walked her up to the reception desk, apologizing for looking like such a mess and for making them stay late.  The receptionist couldn’t have been nicer or more sympathetic.

Dr. Camilleri came out and said what a beautiful bird Cuddles was and examined her a bit.  He felt here and there, looking for fluid build up and feeling her breastbone to see how thin she was.  After looking at her he let me know I was doing the best thing for her.

We took her into the examination room and he looked at her a bit more while I held her. He explained what he was going to do and how putting a chicken to sleep is a bit trickier but he’d make sure it wasn’t stressful for her.  The Dr. took her out of the room to give her a sedative to keep her calm and get rid of any anxiety she would be feeling.

When he came back with her, Cuddle’s eyelids were starting to close, the way they did when she relaxed into my lap.

Once she was close to being asleep Dr. Camilleri took a tiny needle and pierced her skin.

Not long after that Cuddles was gone.

I had Cuddles cremated and had the ashes returned to me in an urn.  She’s the first pet I’ve ever done that with.

The day I brought her ashes home I was cleaning up the mudroom a little bit. A good cleaning because it had snowed and there was mud in the mudroom of all things.

As I bent down to wipe under that little dresser with the bowl of sunflower seeds on it I found a single brown feather.  A tiny, little downy feather from Cuddles’ last night with me.

I picked it up, walked into the next room and tucked the feather into the ribbon that wraps around her urn.  It sticks out just behind a miniscule little wood plaque that reads “Cuddles”.

My little chicken.


It doesn’t make up for what he did, but … Dr. Camilleri publishes a magazine for poultry lovers, showers and breeders.

If you’d like to look at a sample of it click the picture below.

To subscribe to the magazine, email Dr. Camilleri directly.



  1. Kip says:

    That was a beautiful tribute to an amazing and loving hen/pet/therapist/family member. Dr. Camilleri sounds like a very kind and compassionate veterinarian, just like our very beloved vet friend Alexa.

  2. Tanya H. says:

    Very sorry to read about Cuddles’s death. I’ve enjoyed reading about her, and I’m glad she had you as her chicken mama.

  3. Cuddles was clearly an extraordinary chicken, and you and Dr. Camilleri knew it. And now we know it too. I could hug you all right now. xo.

  4. Beth W. says:

    Heartbreaking – having to make that decision even though you know it’s the right one. I’m so sorry to hear about Cuddles….birds can be fragile and hard to care for, but so rewarding…..

  5. Christy says:

    That was so sad.
    You and your Cuddles are beautiful and I am sorry she is gone. I am so glad she left you a feather keepsake.

  6. charlotte tataryn says:

    Karen, I don’t know you and wouldn’t if I literally bumped into you BUT I have tears in my eyes as I write this. Life suck sometimes and sometimes it involves those beings that aren’t of our makeup and regardless if they have hair or feathers, love is love.
    Consider yourself privileged that you and your vet had the right to give Cuddles a death with grace. If we could only do that for our own.
    I’m sad for, and proud of you.

    • Jo says:

      It never ceases to amazed me of kindred spirits. I’ve lost many loves of my life. I dare count them but what C has said here made me smile – love is love. Cuddles will make you smile. I’m so very proud of you for sharing your love.

  7. Andrea says:

    Prayers for your peace, and that you relish all your memories of Cuddles. Being a feline inclined female, I always pictured Cuddles as a kitten in a bird’s body. ( a very un-high strung kitten, of course.)

  8. Lesley says:

    Man. Sitting on the couch weeping. So sorry you had to go through this. Cuddles was a lucky girl and you did the right thing for her.

    And that other vet, and that insensitive cow that works for him? I hope they read your blog.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Lesley. I know it was the right thing. I don’t think the vet was really to blame, I think he just got mixed signals. The receptionist on the other hand? Yeah. Different story. ~ karen!

      • Gillian says:

        I had the same thought about them reading the blog. I hope the vets reaction is “OMGosh! I asked her if there were any more appointments and she told me no. I can’t believe I forgot!! “

  9. Auntie Dot says:

    Karen, I’m so sorry. I know how much you cared for Cuddles. I feel your pain and I know I’m going to cry myself to sleep tonight. The memory of your pets is always with you. I’ll be thinking of you. Auntie Dot

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Auntie Dot! It’s the dark side of having pets as you know very well. If you want to feel sorry for someone though feel bad for poor little Cheez Whiz. She was Cuddles’ best friend and she’s completely distraught. She barely even walks around anymore. ~ karen!

      • Gretchen Sexton says:

        The ripple effect of a loved one dying is fallout that is both expected and unexpected. I double all the words from fellow readers, followers, and admirers. No one ever said life would be easy, I hope the companionship, peace and comfort that Cuddles gave you will be a balm to the pain and loss her death created.

  10. Kim says:

    The biggest hugs to you, Karen, for what you went through in losing poor Cuddles and for being able to put it into words so eloquently and share it, very moving as I type through my own tears.

  11. Jean says:

    She was one of a kind. God bless you.

  12. Jane S says:

    What a lovely tribute to a lovely pet.

  13. Beth says:

    Well done Karen.
    A wonderful time in your life that you have shared with us.
    Tears that I have streaming down my face at this time are for you Karen.
    I love that you found the little, brown, downy, feather that your Cuddles left there just for YOU!!!
    My thoughts are with you Karen.

  14. Jodi says:

    RIP Cuddles, a true friend to you, Karen and through your writing, a favourite of us all. We’re sorry you lost such a beloved pet.

  15. Judy D. says:

    This post had me crying like a baby. I’m really lost for words (rare for me), but please know I understand the situation and you did the best thing for Cuddles. God Bless Dr. Camilleri and his kind receptionist.

  16. Sarah says:

    I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss, Karen. Thank you for sharing this story (and all of your stories about Cuddles) with us.

  17. Tina B says:

    I know the loss of Cuddles must have been gut-wrenching…the loss of a dear pet always is.

    Do you know the significance of the feather you found while cleaning? I know sweet Cuddles was in the house, but you finding the feather while cleaning wasn’t just a coincidence. It was Cuddles way of telling you she was ok and doing just fine.

    Some attribute the finding of a feather, normally a white feather, to Native American lore. These feathers sent from loved ones are usually in odd places…inside the house or car. I know Cuddles was inside the house that night…but don’t be surprised if you find another one…soon, in the same place where she loved and cared for you and where you returned that favor.

    Blessings to you for loving Cuddles so deeply…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tina B. When I read your comment I got goosebumps all over my legs and arms. Just before I read the comments I cleaned up the stack of wood beside my fireplace. Some of it had tipped over and it needed some sweeping. When I moved the logs to sweep under them … there was a feather. The complete opposite of her little downy feather, it’s a full sized wing feather. ~ karen!

      • Emma says:

        Cuddles lives in your heart forever. Hugs.

      • Tina B says:

        Oh, now there are tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my arms. Cuddles is with you, always….and you will know because you will find feathers in odd places, places they shouldn’t be.

        Miko, my oldest Lab, passed away from cancer in Dec ’12. Like you, we battled with helping her rest or allowing time and nature to take it’s course. It was a struggle, for sure.

        A friend told me of the White Feather last year, and I said a silent little prayer that I might find a feather from Miko, something that would tell me our sweet girl was alright. Within the week, I walked into my art studio to sweep the floor…and behind the door was a 5″ long pure white feather. In my house…behind a door. There is absolutely no reason for a large feather (any feather, really) to be in my house. I’m not ashamed to say…I knelt on the floor and cried happy tears. If that doesn’t make you believe in the hereafter…

  18. Debbie from Illinois says:

    So sorry. Thanks for sharing with us. Big hugs to you Karen.

  19. Lisa says:

    Oh honey I’m so sorry… Remembering the love and good time will get easier, I promise… Beautifully beautifully written.. Sending blessings to your heart..

  20. Brandy Ballard says:

    I am sitting here right before bed crying my eyes out for you because I know how much that hurt and that evil person who doesn’t belong in a vet’s office (who karma will get…just you wait) just made it so much harder. All I can do is send long distance e-hugs and a little bit of strength. We are all here for you. She wasn’t “just” a chicken any more than my fur legs are “just” dogs and cats, heck when my finhead goldfish Cannibal went I was just as upset (even though his name was Cannibal because he ate his tank buddy). All you know is how they make you feel and if anybody can’t recognize that Cuddles gave you love and made you feel love…then you seriously don’t need that kind of negativity in your life!! 🙂 Major major hugs!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Brandy. 🙂 I’m O.K. And don’t cry! You’ll get puffy eyes and then people will ask you if you were crying and then you’ll either have to make something up or tell the you’re crying over an Internet chicken. And we both know a lot of people just wouldn’t get that, lol. ~ karen!

  21. Carla says:

    Cuddles was truly one of a kind! And so are you, thank you for sharing her with us.

  22. Lin N says:

    Thank you for sharing your loving Cuddles story. It is never easy to make that final decision…I have had to do it a few times. I once encountered a vet clinic receptionist who was like the one you describe…guess I wasn’t the only one to complain, the clinic let her go. Cuddles is across that ‘Rainbow Bridge’ with all our beloved pets.

  23. Noelle says:

    ;( I clearly recall the first pet I had cremated to bring home… I used to think it was so silly when I heard about other people who did it. Pip was my cancer kitty who held me together as I healed from that crazy year. She died young and her ashes are here on my dresser.

    • Karen says:

      My mother thinks it’s completely insane, lol. Cuddles is on the bookcase but I might have to more her because I have a hunch she makes people uncomfortable. ~ karen!

      • Cynthia Jones says:

        You can take a little Cuddledust out at the beginning of her favourite season and spead it where she liked best of all. Maybe put a little in your pocket when you wear your overalls. It helps with the grief and to think they are coming along on an adventure with you.

        Nah, dont move her from the bookcase, make ’em get used to it and put a little offering there occasionally, that’ll freak emout.

        I really love the idea of her on your bookcase. She will be so happy now inside in the special hen house with mummy. Blessings on your fluffy dear little head Cuddles and you too Karen.

  24. Gayle says:

    Oh, I am in tears with you. Knowing you did the best you could for her doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt like hell. Cuddles was blessed to have you as her friend, just as you were blessed to have her. Take care.

  25. Aileen Henner says:

    Such a wonderful experience to have known Cuddles. It is such a shame that their time on this earth is so short. Bless you for having the compassion and love to have cared for her. I truly believe we will all meet again. I know all my four legged children are waiting for me. Keep telling your stories.

  26. Mary says:

    Oh Karen. How could anyone judge you? I could never kill one of my pets with my own hand – but the ability to take them to be gently and lovingly released from pain and suffering – that’s a relief – to them and to us. Who could fault you for hoping she’d die quietly in her sleep? Don’t we all with that for our pets – our families – ourselves? Who could fault you for feeling the relief of having a plan. And the panic of having the plan thwarted – and on a Friday night. I hope the “receptionist” finds a better career. Far from animals and their people. And God bless Dr. Camilleri for understanding the situation you were in and helping you both thru it so kindly. Vets like him are gold. Thank you for sharing your story.

  27. Elsie says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Cuddles. A Winnipeg artist, Morgan Di Martino, and her company North Faun offers cremation beads and pearls. Perhaps this would comfort by keeping Cuddles close?

  28. Lora says:

    I am sorry for your loss of Cuddles. I have been following you since I started to think of getting Chickens, mine are now almost 2. I went through your difficult breakup and I think that and this is the only time I have commented. You are an inspiration and a wonder to listen to your writing. You speak from the heart and give everything you do 100 and 10%. I remember the 1st time Cuddles got sick, you were very scared, I thought she would be gone but your resilience has rubbed off on your girls.

    I am sorry for your loss of Cuddles no words can console the loss of a loved one, humane or pet.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Lora. You weren’t the only one who thought Cuddles would be gone that first time she got sick. Everyone did. Every vet, every chicken owner, every chicken expert. There were two people who thought she could get through it if I was diligent. Both of them were local vets. And one of them was Dr. Camilleri. ~ karen!

  29. Tears are just streaming down my face. That was so beautifully written. How lucky you and Cuddles are to have had that relationship together.

    Thank you for sharing this story


  30. MissChris SA says:

    You are very brave to have written this story so soon!
    It is such a horrid decision to have to make and I had a similar situation with a cat I loved like a child.
    I also kept hoping he would just pass away but it did not happen – I had to do the vet route too and still tear up when I think about it – almost two years later.

    Love the feather you found – and angel chicken called Cuddles left you a message – I honestly believe that.

    As for the vets assistant – this is a family blog so I won’t use the expletives I would like to about her!!!!!

    Have a lovely weekend Karen – and I love that painting of the chook!!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks MissChris SA. I keep trying to tell myself maybe she was having a bad day. A very, very bad day. And that chicken painting is Cuddles done from a photograph I took of her. 🙂 ~ karen!

  31. Auntiepatch says:

    Putting down a cherished pet is the last loving act you can do for them. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  32. Lynn says:

    Karen my deepest sympathy goes out to you for the loss of your Cuddles. Some might think of her as just a chicken but you made her very real to us as a beloved pet . She gave you joy an you gave her love there is no better feeling in this world.

  33. Lisa Bakos says:

    What a beautifully written love story about you and your darling hen. You gave her a lovely life and dignity in death. Thank you for sharing.

  34. holly says:

    What a beautiful tribute, Karen. As I sit here crying, I’m so glad you wrote this. I knew Cuddles was special, and now I know why. There’s nothing like having an animal that is totally devoted to you. That look on their sweet faces. I am so thankful for that kind vet. I would have contacted the other vet and suggest the receptionist be fired.

    I’m also crying because my sweet, devoted best friend – a Chocolate lab – has pancreatic cancer and I am facing the same thing. He’s doing good for now, but I know what’s coming.

    I agree the feathers are a sign from sweet Cuddles letting you know she’s happy and healthy. She knew how much you loved and cared for her.

    • Karen says:

      It’s sad and horrible Holly, but once you realize you’re doing them a favour and you can literally put them out of their misery you actually feel good about it. Remember that when the time comes with your Chocolate lab. You’re causing yourself pain but taking it away from your pet. ~ karen!

      • holly says:

        Thanks, Karen…I know I won’t feel guilty and have already determined I won’t selfishly hang on and let him suffer. I’ve had him since 8 weeks old and he has never had a bad day in his life – well, until his seizure and staying at the vet for 2 days. That’s a wonderful thing to be able to say – same with you and Cuddles. I just know he is going to leave a huge hole and this house will seem so empty. You’re so right, that’s the flip side of having our little sweeties – having to say goodbye. It’s just so hard.

        I’m so glad you found those feathers! And keep Cuddles ashes wherever you want. My last Lab’s are on the fireplace with a beautiful photo of him and my parents’ mixed ashes are in the bookcase in a beautiful urn. Nobody seems to mind. Thanks for your kind words, Karen!

    • Holly…we are in the same boat…our beloved yellow lab (almost 13) is losing mobility day by day. The thought of being without her is unimagineable. I wish you more lovley days with your sweet boy.

      • holly says:

        I’m so sorry, Deb. It came out of the blue for us. He had never been sick or had any problems and then, boom, the seizure, which led to the grim findings. He was 8 when diagnosed. They gave Buster 3 – 6 months 3 months ago, so we’re just trying to appreciate every minute. He’s not in any pain, eats like crazy due to the Prednisone, but I know it will change.

        I’m sure you have provided your sweetie with a wonderful, happy life and she knows she is loved. I wish you the same – as many good, happy days as possible. Best wishes.

      • holly says:

        Deb – I just thought of something after I sent you my first reply. You said she is losing mobility. If it is due to hip issues, arthritis, etc. acupuncture may help. Buster’s vet is also into homeopathic remedies when possible, and was telling me there are more and more vets using acupuncture when possible. Just a thought. Best of luck.

        • Thank you so much Holly…we are actually taking Darcie to an animal chiropractor…and it actually has helped! He is an amazing Dr. who also works with horses! Her problem is more related to a nerve in her spine that is causing the loss of strength in hind. But she also has arthritis too. Our vet, who is also amazing has said that surgery could be an option, but very complicated, and no guarantees. We could not put her through that at her age. But I will consider acupuncture too…thanks so much. Now I’m going to give her a snuggle and say goodnight. All the best to you and Buster.

  35. Paula says:

    Heartbreaking, yes, I am crying. So sorry for your gut wrenching loss. Your story is beautifully written and Cuddles had a beautiful life, thanks to you.

  36. Dee says:

    You and Cuddles were so lucky to be in each other’s lives. You’ve so touched my heart and I hope the pain of her lose soon moves on to a smile with the memory of her.

  37. Karen Too says:

    That was lovely. I’m so sorry.

  38. Marna says:

    Oh Karen, I feel so sorry for you! Having been through something similar over the past two years, having to put down my beloved cat almost a year ago and the year before my dog. I have had a lot of pets, different types of animals and it doesn’t matter what they are, they are your babies. I too think you were meant to find that little feather, what a treasure. I wish I had all my pets cremated, never thought of it before the last two. I might do that with the next ones, and have them put in my casket when I die. I believe that all creatures, us too, have energy that continues on and someday you will meet Cuddles again. This made me cry, but thank you for sharing the tribute to your beloved pet. Hugs.

  39. tracie says:

    I don’t usually respond to posts like this…I don’t own any chickens or such…but I was so touched by this post…I’m weeping as we speak. Some people are born to allow anothers rest, and some are born to rest…I really feel like I know Cuddles. Thank you for this, Karen…xo

  40. Kim says:

    I didn’t think I would ever cry over a chicken. I am so sorry for your loss. Maybe a very strange thing to say, but I am certain Cuddles is still with you in a very real way. I read a near death experience of a young girl who said her dogs, who had passed, came to greet her. Anyway. It was significant to me because I’ve always thought it sad that so many people believe animals don’t have souls when, to me, they so obviously do.

    Thank you for sharing this story. I am sorry about the receptionist. I had a similar rude receptionist when my house rabbit was ill.

    Much love to you.

  41. Janelle says:

    I am very sorry, Karen. Rest well, lovely Cuddles.

  42. Erika says:

    I am very sorry for the loss of Cuddles.

  43. Melanie moore says:

    Isn’t it amazing how the tiniest of animals can fill the biggest holes in our hearts. I’m glad she was there for you from the start and you were there for her till the end. Thank you so much for sharing her with all of us.

  44. Michele Holloway says:

    What a lovely story. Thank you for sharing. It made me cry in the end, but life often does, does it not? You had a wonderful friend who shared herself selflessly. And through you, even more. I am so very sorry for your loss, but so very happy for you that you got such a blessing, to be allowed to raise such a special soul. May God’s love always find you. M

  45. Dagmar says:

    Karen, you are a wonderful mom. There is no doubt that Cuddles felt and understood the love and help you provided for her. Your compassion, desire, and ability to understand your animal children, shows what an incredible humanitarian you truly are. I am sure you are saddened by Cuddles’ death, but remember the good times. ?

    P.S. There is no shame in tears of love either. ?

  46. TucsonPatty says:

    Everyone has said it all – this was heartbreaking, and a beautiful love story, and the feathers are indeed a sign she is there always, especially in your heart, and leave the urn where you can look upon it with love and peace in your heart and know she loved you, too.
    I’m so,sad for you, and it seems you are remembering the good times, and to write this to tell all of us took great courage.
    Thank you, Karen. You are an inspiration to us all, in so many, many ways.

  47. Sue says:

    I’m so sorry that you lost her. It has to help to know that you gave her the very best life a chicken could ever have and loved her enough to let her go when it was right. I’ve been there and it never gets easier. Just sending you a hug.

  48. Christina Weber says:

    What a beautiful, moving tribute. Cuddles was a gift from the universe just when you needed it, as you were a gift to her. The loss of a pet is one of the deepest losses we experience. Calm you heart by knowing that in death you gave Cuddles love, dignity and the greatest of care as you did in every day of her life. She may be gone in the physical sense but the giant imprint on your heart will remain for the rest of your journey and will continue to give you strength and peace. Thank you for sharing Cuddles with us.

  49. Deb says:

    My heart hurt when I read your post. A special feather she left for you. It’s bittersweet that we love these sweet souls and they bring us such comfort and joy.

  50. Noreen says:

    Thanks. You made me cry at 8:02 am.
    Sorry for your loss.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. What a way to start a Friday, right? The good news is Monday’s post is hilarious. I think. I haven’t written it yet but I’ll try. 😉 ~ karen!

  51. allyn says:

    Please know we love you and are with you in spirit and mind more often than you know.

  52. Tiffany G says:

    You’re such a talented writer Karen. The vulnerable way you shared your story with us tugged at all of our hearts. I cried too, but it was a shared cry for all of us that have gone through something similar with our own pets. I got goosebumps myself when you talked about finding the second feather. Thanks for sharing Cuddles with us.

  53. Liz Marley says:

    Hi Karen

    I just read your blog (at work) and you brought tears to my eyes. I have nursed and cuddled dying chickens quite a few times and even though they are simple little souls, it breaks my heart every time. I have blinked away my tears now so I won’t have to explain chicken related grief to my workmates – they may not get it!


    • Karen says:

      No, they probably won’t get it, lol. Unless you’ve had chickens or … well, read about Cuddles apparently … it’s hard to understand. Most people think it’d be like grieving for a potted plant. ~ karen!

      • Tracey says:

        I think a true blue animal lover would cry over the death of a chicken. If a person could read your beautiful tribute to your darling Cuddles, and not cry,,well then I personally could not be friends with that person.
        I’m a veterinarian’s daughter. I remember many many nights my father going out to deliver puppies, or to help a dying pet move onto a pain free afterlife. The one thing that my father told me when I was a fairly young girl, and that has stayed with me all of my life, is that we as humans we have the ability to decide when our pets (chickens, hamster, cats, dogs, horses etc etc) should be released from their pain or suffering. I witnessed Euthanasia so many times alongside my dad at the hospital. Many people would say they just couldn’t witness the passing of their pet. (I don’t understand that personally). It can and should be done in such a manner that your pet is not stressed and it’s a painful passing in a mere matter of seconds. So we would cuddle and comfort their pet during their last moments.
        I’ve lost many pets over my life, and it always helped when my father reminded me that sometimes, no amount of money or expensive treatments are worth putting a pet through. Sometimes we need to let them go…for them…when the time right.
        Karen, you made a big personal sacrifice to do what was best for Cuddles. I loved your tribute. I remeber my first rescue dog, at first I tought I was rescuing her,but I came to realize wothin a few months that it was really her that rescued me!
        Cuddles was a blessing. It was a treat to get to know and love Cuddles through your writings. Thank you fo sharing your heart with us.
        Godspeed sweet Cuddles, you were a one in a million chicken!!

  54. Wendy says:

    I am very sorry for your loss…

  55. Judith says:

    Oh goodness, Karen. What beautiful words about the sweetest chicken I’ve ever come to know! And thank goodness for angels like Dr. Camilleri and his secretary. Thank you so much for sharing that with us.

  56. Vanessa says:

    What a beautiful story. Sometimes we are lucky and we meet a soulmate, and sometimes it is an awesome chicken, a big silly dog, or a calm and wise old cat. I am sorry you lost your friend, but so happy you found her in the first place.

  57. GrammyK says:

    You write so beautifully; you and your respondents always perk up my day. Thank you for giving us all closure for Cuddles. What an amazing comfort it is to think of that soft little feather! I feel badly for Cheez Whiz — I hope she finds another companion soon. Thank you for always bringing a smile and a chuckle (at least one) to my day, even though this one has cleaned out my eyes exceptionally well. ^_^

  58. Gillian says:


    Excellent restraint in not mentioning names in relation to the first vet.

    The world needs more people like Dr. Camilleri and his staff….and Cuddles.

  59. Amanda says:

    so so sorry for your loss. 🙁 When my first cat died (I had her for 17 years) my mom had her cremated for me. It gives me great comfort to know she’s still with me. <3 I know I can't say anything that will actually help, but thank you for sharing so much of her life with us. She seemed a wonderful soul.

  60. gabrielle says:

    Karen, I feel your pain – right through the baloney with at first vet office to the little wooden plaque. So sorry.
    It will become easier, and you have shared so much of Cuddles with all of us. We are all here with you now – and always -with Cuddles’ legacy on the internet.

  61. Jenny W says:

    Oh my, I have tears 🙁
    You bestowed Cuddles one of the greatest, albeit hardest, act of love there is.
    Beautifully written Karen – hugs

    • Mary W says:

      Your comment is beautiful and I completely agree. Love can be very hard and always it hurts so much at its’ loss, but indicates the warm, loving memories that will follow and bring comfort later.

  62. Miriam Mc Nally says:

    Beautiful! Xx

  63. Eileen says:

    I’m sitting here, weeping for you and Cuddles and all the sweet pets I’ve had in my life that have given me joy and passed on. Making that decision is so difficult and heartbreaking. So very sorry for your loss.

  64. Sabina says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story Karen.

  65. You were lucky to have Cuddles and she was so very lucky to have you. Thanks for sharing that tribute to her …

  66. Lindsay says:

    This is the worst part of loving a pet. Their life is too short. Tears are streaming down my face as I imagine how awful and upsetting the whole experience must have been. Big hugs and lots of love! I’m truly sorry your girl is gone.

  67. Nan Tee says:

    Huge hugs, Karen. Sorry for the loss of your dear, fine feathered friend. Lovely tribute to her.

  68. Nan Tee says:

    Huge hugs and many boxes of tissues, Karen. Sorry for the loss of your dear, fine feathered friend. Lovely tribute to her.

  69. Thera says:

    Made me cry, again my deepest condolances.

  70. Birgit says:

    You made me cry, and I am sorry for you. I have been there too. And let me tell you, no matter what people will say, some wounds do never heal. Sad but true. Take care Karen.

  71. Kate says:

    Such a beautiful story. You are a wonderful person to care so much. I’m not sure who was luckier – you or Cuddles … perhaps both of you were lucky to have each other. Hugs.

  72. cary says:

    oh Karen, I am so sorry. such a heartbreaking story. I’m so glad you were her mama because i can only imagine what Cuddles’ life would have been like if she wasn’t hatched just for you 🙂

  73. Marilyn says:

    Ok Karen you are a bitch, I just did my makeup! I loved cuddles xo

  74. Mary says:

    Perhaps a carefully worded email to Dr. Camilleri is in order.

    • Karen says:

      I’m sure he’d appreciate that. I emailed him a week or so after he put Cuddles down to make sure he knew what a big impact he had. I’m guessing he’d like it if the rest of the world did the same, lol. ~ karen!

  75. Maureen Locke says:

    Thanks for sharing Karen. A pet is a pet is a pet….. doesn’t matter if it’s a cat, dog, chicken or mongoose. Love just happens and nobody needs to understand it but you. Cuddles was special to us all and will be missed. You were the best Momma to her. I got goosebumps over the feathers too. She’s there, you can count on it. Hugs

  76. Chris White says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for sharing this. I think you would enjoy Susan Juby’s hilarious novel “The Woefield Poultry Collective”. A strange collection of people run a derelict farm and central to the story is a little girl and her show poultry (one of which is known as Alec Baldwin because of his commanding presence). The hens bring the characters together as only hens can. Have a read – it might be just the tonic you need!

  77. Kim C says:

    Your writing has me crying this morning. Such a touching, heartbreaking story of love. You and Cuddles were so fortunate to have formed a unique bond, both nurturing one and other along your jouney together. Who could think that a sweet quiet little chicken could touch one so deeply, let alone your readers. She was special and I thank you for sharing all your Cuddles stories with us.

  78. Diane R says:

    So very sorry for your loss Karen. Sweet dreams Cuddles.

  79. Mary Lou says:

    This is the dark side of loving a pet. I recently saw on Instagram artist “erinswindow” offers custom ceramic pet urns. Had I known last year, I would have ordered one with the image of my 14-year-old pug, Buster. I’m glad you have two special feathers from your girl. Thank you for sharing this private moment with us.

  80. Leah says:

    Awww. Sweet Cuddles! So thankful her presence changed your life. God created animals for many reasons – leaving permanent prints on human hearts was just an added bonus. Thank you for the sweet story.

  81. Angela says:

    Oh Karen – so sorry for your loss. Reading at work this am and having a good (silent) cry. I always wondered why they take the pet out of the room for the sedative – do you know? They did the same when I had to have my 17 year old cat put down several years ago. I assumed the sedative was a little painful and they didn’t want me to see that part. Thinking of you and Cuddles!

    • Karen says:

      I think they put them in a chamber, like a fish tank, which is in the back rooms. ~ karen!

    • Stephbo says:

      I never thought of it as the reason some vet’s take them out for that bit, but yes, it can sometimes sting and cause the pet a little bit of distress, which of course, causes their person distress.

  82. Well, if I am sitting here sobbing over a chicken I’ve never met before I can only imagine your grief. Hang in there. Soon enough your memories of happier times will replace the grief.

    I also think you have found an amazing new vet. I wouldn’t darken the door of the other place ever again.

  83. Deb says:

    Karen, I have been waiting eagerly to hear your telling of Cuddles’ last hours, knowing you would tell the story with your usual humor and your great love for that little hen. My heart ached reading it, but also celebrated that you and Cuddles had each other at the times that mattered most. What an unselfish act of love, however heartbreaking, to help Cuddles end her earthly journey. And how providential that she would leave you a lovely reminder to comfort you in the days after. Beautiful love story, you two. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

  84. Monique says:

    The way you wrote about Cuddles brought tears to my eyes..
    I am sorry ..

    never pleasant losing a pet we of my son -in-laws calls his chickens his “girls”and they all have Star Wars names..I could swear Chewbacca is a male..oh well..

    What a doll’s to all drs..vets..being like he is ..and here is to every rude..receptionist..getting fired.Honestly.
    And to every pet owner having your kindness.
    There are some in every town..

  85. Mary Kay says:

    Oh Karen,
    She was a wonderful little hen, I am glad you gave her such a wonderful life. It is because of Cuddles and your other hens that I began to read your blog and I read it every day. We are facing a similar situation with our beloved Yorkie. Damn I will miss that little dog.

  86. Kimberly M says:

    I know there are already a bunch of comments, I just wanted to express my condolences for your loss. Some people think it’s crazy to behave in such a way over a pet, I am not one of those people. I have 3 pets buried in my parents yard from when I was a child, with handmade headstones made from the prettiest rocks and I could find and sharpie marker writing. Every time I go to visit (about 3 times a year if I’m lucky) I go and check to make sure everything is still good and they’re stones are still legible. My husband teases me, but I know he really doesn’t mind my flavor of crazy, he married me didn’t he? I actually used to really irritate my mom when I was little because if I was riding my bike around and saw roadkill, or a dead animal lying in the park or wherever, I would grab one of my dad’s empty cigar boxes and bury it in our yard. Our dogs would find them and dig them up 90% of the time but I still would do it. Now as an adult I get why she would get so mad. I’m lucky I didn’t get rabies or something hahaha..
    I have read your blog since 2011 I believe, and I always loved reading about your chickens. I was rooting for you and Cuddles every time you told us she was ill, and was relieved for you both when you nursed her back to health. I’m so sad to hear of her passing but I know, just from what I have read here that she was well loved. Sorry for the novel btw… 🙂

  87. Cheryl says:

    A terribly sad but beautifully written story about your little love. I am so sorry for your loss.

  88. cbblue says:

    Oh Karen, I have been both dreading and looking forward to your Cuddles story. I was going to say last story but I’m sure it will not be the last. She was such a gift to you; but not as much as you were a gift to her. You certainly did not disappoint. This was the most heart-wrenching post I have read. You have such a beautiful gift Karen. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. Jeanne

  89. Karen, I don’t even have words right now, other than to tell you I understand. I really do. In 1999, I contracted bacterial meningitis and was literally at death’s door. By some miracle, I emerged from a coma and survived, mostly intact and eventually became healthy again. My cat, Mimi, mourned my absence, I’m told, crying throughout the house, wondering where I’d gone. When I returned home from the hospital, she never left my side, all day and all night, for weeks as I recuperated.

    Four years later, when she was 16 years old, we had to do what NO pet owner wants to do. No, it wasn’t “we,” it was “I” that had to do it, with such great sorrow in my heart, and tears streaming down my face, as I sobbed into her fur, telling her what a good kitty she was.

    So I know, Karen, and my heart hurts with yours. But we both know as badly as it hurts, we’d do it all again for the honor of having them in our lives. They made the world a much better place, didn’t they?

    Okay, I guess I did have words after all. *hugs*

    • Karen says:

      LOL. You did. I can’t believe you came out of a coma! You’ve got some strength in you lady. And I said the very same thing, and I make a BET we all do. Told Cuddles what a good little chicken she was. And I bet anyone who has had a dog told them what a good dog they were. I wonder why we say that? Comforting the pet? Us? You’ll notice we say they were good. Not pretty or smart. Good. ~ karen!

  90. Leanne says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss Karen. Cuddles was special. I’m sorry you had to say goodbye. <3

  91. Erika says:

    Karen, this a beautiful tribute you have written. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Not that there’s a bright side, but perhaps the cosmic forces were in play on Cuddles’ last night. She ended up being cared for by a vet that obviously truly cared and understood the situation (both avian and human), and so you both got the care you needed in a difficult time. I’m glad her last moments were peaceful.

  92. SuzyMcQ says:

    I’m so sorry, Karen. I’ve thought much about you and about Cuddles since you wrote of her passing. It is the hardest decision, as pet owners, we have to make. It’s truly gut-wrenching and something I’ve never gotten over when faced with the prospect.

    Each loved pet takes a piece of our hearts and replaces it with warm memories and unwavering love and devotion. What an amazing gift they are…..

    At some point I would speak to your vet about the issues you had with his staffer. Clearly she is ill-suited for the job she holds. He sounds like a compassionate and caring person. I doubt he would want someone like her dealing with people during such stressful and heartbreaking times.

    Love and hugs. Godspeed Cuddles.

  93. Mike says:


    Never expected my Friday morning to begin like this.

    Tears. Running down my so-called manly face. And into my bowl of corn flakes.

    Thank goodness for the literary rainbow part of your story: the feather Cuddle’s left for you. The perfect, precious, forever gift.

    Picturing it tucked behind the ribbon on the urn made me smile.

    I know Cuddles is smiling, too. She knows how much you loved her.

  94. Karin in NC says:

    At work. Crying.
    That was a lovely tribute to a lovely animal who stole your heart. I’m glad you had her cremated and keep her urn on a shelf. I now have about 12 of those in my house for all manner of dogs and cats who have graced my life. We who have loved and been loved by animals are so lucky.

  95. Shelly M. says:

    As I sit here with tears running down my cheeks, I am heartbroken for your loss. I could feel your pain in your words. I am so sorry for the difficulties you had to face with the other vet’s office when you already facing such a heartbreaking situation. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  96. Melissa Leach says:

    I don’t know what to say…I am so sorry for you, for Cheese Wiz and the rest of your girls. You and Cuddles had a very special relationship full of love and trust. I know that tiny feather tucked in that ribbon will make you smile in due time. Hugs to you. Thanks for sharing this very touching story. I am so sorry.

  97. Becky says:

    You’ve written such a lovely tribute to your Cuddles. You did right by her and she thanks you. She’s left a hole in your heart but you have lovely memories. And that feather…..

  98. mickey says:

    Thank you for sharing with us, Karen.

  99. Barbara S. says:

    Thanks for sharing your life with us Karen. Like others, I read about Cuddles with tears streaming down my face. Much love and healing to you and Cheez Whiz. I hope she is as strong as you are. Time heals many things but you’ll always have Cuddles in your heart.

  100. Marion says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, Karen. It’s always hard to make the decision to let a beloved pet go, but in the end it’s always nice to know they are at peace. Cuddles lived a great life and I’ve enjoyed reading stories about her over the years. Thank you for sharing this one.

  101. Have you written a book? Because you should. You had me in tears over my morning tea. You can bring the reader right into the situation, and now I feel that I knew Cuddles. I’m glad you have her still with you. Love is so hard, isn’t it?


  102. Barb says:

    Karen, Thank you for writing this difficult, yet touching, tribute to Cuddles and letting us know what happened. Your previous blogs and adventures about her were so vivid that she also made her way into our hearts. Having to put to sleep a pet who is a member of the family is such a difficult thing, but it’s also a final act of love for them. You treasured her from the time you two met until you parted ways and both of your lives were enriched forever.

  103. Ev Wilcox says:

    Years ago I had a pet rat that I loved very much. Her name was “Minnie” and she had a great and loving personality. She spent a lot of time on my shoulders as I did chores, etc. My kids were used to unusual pets and they loved her too. I have asthma, so when a large tumor began growing on the side of her neck i freaked at the possibility that it would impinge on her ability to breathe. So one day on my lunch hour I took her to a local vet and had her put down. Truly, I know how you felt, and still feel. In 2008 we took the best dog ever to be put down, and we are still in mourning. Know that you did the right thing. I hope sharing this was cathartic for you. And, we can all celebrate a nice vet with a heart. Good for him and his staff, and good for you.

  104. MelissaM says:

    Oh, Karen! What a lovely tribute. And what a magnificent vet and office. Now I go back to chopping onions this Friday morning. [sniff, sniff]

  105. NinaMargoJune says:

    As soon as I saw the title I grabbed a box of Kleenex. Such a touching post. Such an ordeal. Sniff.

  106. Linda says:

    So sorry for your great loss. My daughter has chickens and today she got her first egg! She loves those babies and would do just what you did for them. You are a good chicken mama.

    • Karen says:

      The first EGG! That’s such an exciting day. Honestly I can remember my first egg. In fact, I blew it out, painted it a bronze colour and keep it in an egg cup on my bookshelf! ~ karen

  107. Gretchen Sexton says:

    I have read many tributes, yours is up there with the best. I’m sad all over again. And then a spark of joy appears in feathers. I had tears running down my face at the end of your story, then (like a crazy person), after I pulled myself together, I went ahead and read all the comments. More tears. Which normally would not bother me, except I read your post first thing when I get to work! Seriously, thank you for sharing such a tender part of your heart.

  108. BamaCarol says:

    Thank you so much for sharing the life of Cuddles and now her death story. I am tearing up but angry at the first receptionist. She does not belong at that job! Cuddles was a special girl and she belonged with you Karen. You were able to appreciate her gifts and love like no one else. I love the idea of her leaving you feathers to let you know she is OK.

  109. Brooke says:

    Oh, great. Bawling at work. This was lovely and reminds me of something from my childhood. I lived for several years on a non-working farm in then-rural Maryland. My dad commuted to the city each day, my mom stayed home and kept a wonderful house, and I had free rein through the fields and woods, exploring, building forts, fished for crawdads, bringing home wayward dogs, extra kittens, and, one day, a rooster. A friend who lived down the road gave him to me one day, and I walked home with him in my arms, stroking his downy white neck, relaxing myself as he started to doze, just like Cuddles. We had him for some months. Granted, he wasn’t the most “pet-like” animal I ever had, but he never bothered anyone, so he lived on contentedly. Until one fateful day.
    My grandmother, born and bred in the countryside of western Ireland, was living with us at the time, and was sitting on the front porch in the sun one day. The rooster decided that “up there” was a better place to be than “down there” on the ground scrabbling for bugs. So he flew up and tried to perch on her skinny forearm. It was not a smooth landing, and, in her panic, she must have flailed a bit and he, reacting, gouged a large chunk out of her already-meager flesh.
    I never saw him again. But I still suspect, to this day, that Gran’s chicken stew had a special secret dash of spite in it.

  110. kkish says:

    You made me cry. Also, I wish I lived in your town because right this minute it would feel so good to slap a certain veterinary receptionist. So good.

    I’m so sorry about Cuddles.

  111. Sandy says:

    Stupid balls of feathers or fur or whatever. They find a way of getting into our hearts and you were fortunate to have Cuddles with you, if only for 5 years.
    And a big thumbs up to Dr. Camilleri and his staff, always makes things a little easier when you find people who care about what they do.

  112. Jillian says:


    I am so sorry for your loss. This was your best written post yet, under a most difficult and heartbreaking situation. The love you have for Cuddles was felt in every single word.

    Cuddles loved you in life and even in death, left you a gift of her feather for remembrance and closure.

    Lots of healing light being sent your way, Jillian

  113. Lise Cameron says:

    Hi Karen . I was sobbing like a baby. What you and Cuddles had was precious, as I am certain that not too many hens have that kindness and love for a human. Something very special brought the two of you as close as you were. Your love for her probably kept her with you as long as she did . Being the smallest one gave her a harder life but you were always there to help he get back on her feet. Bless you for sharing her last moments with us…That picture of the two of you in the kitchen says it all..

  114. Erica says:

    That was just SO sad to read, brought me to tears. Karen – thanks for sharing your life with us. We all loved Cuddles because of your awesome writing, great stories, and tenderness towards her. How heartbreaking.

  115. Lori Hall says:

    Well, I just bawled like a baby. That was a very beautifully written tribute. All animals should be so loved. You’re a great mama Karen!

  116. Gingersnappo says:

    Beautiful picture, beautiful story. Yes, thank you for sharing, Karen. It sounds like Cuddles was very special.

  117. Thank you for writing this post. It certainly could not have been easy, but hopefully therapeutic. I had tears in my eyes reading it as I too have chickens, and ducks, the latter of which one has imprinted on me and is particularly special. They make such wonderful companions, and their antics can make you laugh out loud. It’s lovely to read that someone else feels that way.

    Wishing you well
    from Pumpjack & Piddlewick

  118. Skylor says:

    a fantastic vet and staff make all the difference when a pet needs medical help. my vet office is staffed with amazing people so I was getting far more aggravated reading about the idiot receptionist than one should but I’m sorry you had to go through that. They need to go work at an IT call center where idiocy is a requirement.

  119. Teri says:

    Karen, I am sitting here crying for you as my heart breaks for your loss. Chickens are surprisingly good pets and can touch your hear in ways that others who’ve never raised them will not understand. Having nursed my girls through illnesses and those who lost the battle, I understand how difficult this was for you. Thank you for sharing your story. Cuddles clearly had a purpose on this earth, rest easy in knowing that purpose was you and how good her life was because of you. My deepest condolences.

  120. Lupe says:

    My heart goes out to you and my condolences. I had to put my kitty (Gato Loco) down on December 22, 2015.

    Such a precious baby you had and the stories….I love em all! I would like to share an animal prayer….

    Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends, the animals especially for those who are suffering; for any that are lost or deserted or frightened or hungry.

    We entreat for them all thy mercy and pity, and for those who deal with them, we ask a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words.

    Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessings of the merciful……AMEN

  121. Joules says:

    I’m so sorry about Cuddles. I’ve loved reading about her ever since you first got her. Reading her story made me cry and I can only thank you for sharing with us.

  122. Kristin D. says:

    Karen, I am so sorry. What a blessing she was to you, in the time she was here. So thankful and impressed by humans like Dr. Camilleri, who show true compassion and selflessness to pets and their humans. Thank you for sharing the story of Cuddles, a truly unique chicken!

  123. Tigersmom says:

    I had to wait to read this until I could do so knowing I wouldn’t be interrupted or needed.

    Your story of Cuddles is a beautiful one beautifully written. I always had a feeling Cuddles was what saved you when the fella left.

    I had to put down a cat that was more devoted to me than any pet I ever had and I know how hard and heartbreaking it is. You are doing a wonderful job of honoring Cuddles’ memory and how much she meant to you.

  124. Aurora Clarke says:

    I’m so very sorry for your tragic loss… I too have had pet chickens and feel your pain.

  125. Wisconsin Gal says:

    I was just thinking about Cuddles last night and wondering if you were ready to write about her passing. You brought back all the memories of the pets I had to have put to sleep, especially my baby Max the rescued maltese. He is in a cremation box too, the only one I’ve done that with. My Cuddles. I’m crying for both of us.

  126. Karen R says:

    Thank you for writing such a fantastic piece. You wrote it exactly as I would’ve if I could’ve. You made me cry. I know how much animals mean to their people. One of our dogs has been diagnosed with cancer and although surgery is a possibility for her I don’t know whether it will work. I don’t know if I could be the one to take her to the vet and have her put to sleep. Just wanted to say again thank you and I think Cuddles was a wonderful chicken and you really embodied that in your writing. It was a wonderful tribute!

  127. charlotte tataryn says:

    Karen, I posted last night and said I didn’t know you (truly, I feel as if I do) and I wouldn’t recognize you if you were staring me in the face, but that isn’t because you have an unmemorable face. I am really bad at putting names to faces, and in this aging process have periodically renamed some of my closest friends who just laugh. I am not at the doddering stage but there are days my brain finds its way into that near-dead end closet. That said dear Karen, you have a lovely and very memorable face, you feel very much like a friend and you are loving, kind and brave.
    Ciao Cuddles; happy trails are ahead.
    Charlotte T

  128. Karen Cunningham says:

    Wiping the tears and clearing the lump on my throat, I want to thank you for sharing this difficult experience with us. Cuddles will be deeply missed. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  129. Wendy W says:

    SO sorry for your loss, Karen.

  130. Ellen says:

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s the saddest part of our life with pets but we owe it to them. It’s part of the bargain we make when we love an animal. She was lucky to be yours.

  131. Linda says:

    Well, Karen, some people don’t get it about our babies but I do. I had pet chickens growing up. They are wonderful as you are for sharing this story. I like to believe Cuddles is somewhere–sitting in someone’s lap–making them happy she’s there.

  132. Jodi T. says:

    This made me cry. Losing a pet is so horrible. I am sorry for your loss, Karen. Cuddles was special to all of us who didn’t know her personally, because we could see how sweet she was and how happy she made you. Lots of love being sent your way ♡…. And I hope chickens go to Rainbow Bridge too.

  133. Mary W says:

    Everything has already been said as I read through the comments. Jenny W said exactly what I would have if I had been earlier. What is clearly evident to me is how many people you have made friends with through words on a website. Powerful words and powerful friends. You were able to see and relish the beautiful attributes of this animal that may have gone unnoticed to another. You are special and I’m sure that is why Cuddles came into your life. Cesar Milan the Dog Whisperer always says we get the dog we need not the dog we want. Our actions fall into the dog and clearly from your description of Cuddles, you are actively the person we think you are. Thank you for sharing parts of your life that aren’t “made for commercial TV” but real and beautiful and help us know we have shared and common human problems that friends can relate to and help, just by a comment or a quiet cuddle on our lap. I thank your Mom for helping with your spirit!

  134. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Ok, I knew the story of Cuddles was coming and it wouldn’t be easy to read. I know it wasn’t easy to write. What came across very strongly was how much she gave to you in her short life and how much you gave back to her. That speaks volumes about our capacity for love. Thank you so much for sharing her with us.

    While my heart goes out to you, I can’t help but also think of the first receptionist and her lack of empathy. I hope she gets to experience some love in her life and learns to share it. Or get a job with no human contact! Very sad (and bad) situation there!

  135. Karin Sorensen says:

    what a great tribute, it had me balling all over the place first thing when i came to work. nevermind the funny looks i’ve received from my co-sufferers i’m mean workers.

    my heart goes out to you and the loss of your beaked companion as well as the broken heart caused be the two legged one. life is strange sometimes, but never wrong.

    have a great weekend.


  136. Jebber Jay says:

    I’ve followed your chicken adventures from the start. I read every story about how you took her under your wing and nursed her back to life(s). She had the best possible 5 years that a chicken could have. I’m sorry you lost your Cuddles.

  137. jainegayer says:

    Karen, you and Cuddles were meant for each other. Thank you for sharing her life with us.

  138. Linda in Illinois says:

    Very lovely tribute.. I wept for you and Cuddles. I know that loss of a pet that is treasured and my heart breaks for you. Thank you for sharing.

  139. Brenda says:

    … so I’m sitting in a cafe crying … and that’s ok …

  140. Lauren from Winnipeg says:

    So very sorry. Cuddles was a member of your family as all pets should be. If they are treated and thought of as “just pets” then people shouldn’t have them. We have put down so many and it’s so horrific every time. It doesn’t matter how necessary it is, it still sucks big time. Each time I think that maybe the next one will die peacefully in their sleep. So far that hasn’t happened. People without pets don’t realize how agonizing it is to make this decision.

    Take care.

  141. Gail says:

    So sorry. I too sat with a failing 21 year old cat on New Years Eve at the vets. Still missing my Cindy. Hugss…

  142. Darla says:

    Tears falling for your loss. A heart wrenching story, but I am glad you shared it with us Cuddles lovers.

  143. Donna says:

    dr camilleri is a vet because he was called not because he wanted a higher than average income. He is to be cherished. I have to stop crying like everyone else and get some work done. Several years ago I changed to a wonderful vet when my regular vet refused to keep my St Bernard overnight after a major stroke. Try getting. 150 lb St Bernard down six steps to potty with a sad pug nipping at your heels wanting to know what’s the matter with his girlfriend and your husband is out of town for a week. So I found a vet willing to take on a seriously ill patient. I ended up creating her instead of burying her. Then when the pug had a brain tumor my wonderful dear vet told me when it was time and he took care of my Otis, who he called his pugbaby. I cremated him as well and he stayed at my office til I retired because he was always afraid of being alone. Of course fertile came to but her box was somewhat larger. I knew I would be moving someday and did not want to leave them behind. They were so funny together. They’d go outside and he’d wait for her to pick a spot to lie down and then he’d crawl on top and go to sleep. Now I have a geriatric arthritic diva of a female pug and her decision will probably come before the year is out. Pets are so important. They do more for our physical and mental health than any foods or exercise or medicines can do and are so missed. I am so sorry about Cuddles. I am so glad she left you a feather. A beloved pet is so selfless in their love. So much more than humans.

  144. Marissa says:

    She was a very special li’l lady and so blessed to have you. My tears & heartfelt condolences.

  145. Barb says:

    You are brave beyond belief. To know the best thing for a pet is to put it out of its misery is one thing. To actually get in the car and drive to the place to have it taken care of is quite another. I’ve done it…I know. If you believe in this sort of thing, God Bless you, Karen. You did the right thing and you ARE brave! Hugs to you.

  146. Kmarie says:

    this was beautiful and touching…Im sorry for your loss. I love that you still have a fluffy feather.

  147. Elaine says:

    Oh dear. I was doing not too bad reading this, Karen, until I got to the “feather” part and now, I’m afraid, I have tears in my eyes and a runny nose!! It hurts SO bad, doesn’t it? Reading your experience just brought back having my cat put down and years earlier, my dog. It took me years to get over both (do you ever???) and reading about Cuddles has brought it all vividly back. I am so upset and angry to read what you went through with that vet’s receptionist; the added stress she brought to an already-stressful experience!! She is definitely in the wrong profession, is utterly heartless and I pray she doesn’t have animals because when their “end” comes, I shudder to think of how she might let them suffer! After reading your previous post telling us Cuddles was gone, I knew that it hadn’t been an easy passing; never dreaming you had to go through what you did. I am so sorry; we ALL feel for you, Karen!

  148. Marti says:

    I don’t even have the heart to make my usual “end of [Karen’s poultry] days” cracks. I am so sorry for your loss. I knew she was a great chicken but had no idea egg-zactly (ha! one small pun. surely that’s harmless?) how meaningful she had been in your life. I remember that unhappy period and I’m so glad to know that she was with you through it.

    And oddlly, I believe in chicken heaven. Which does not in any way resemble KFC.

    Have a great weekend, Karen. Surely there will be another chick you connect with, in a different but also loving way, in the future. And I’ll keep eating… FISH… in Cuddles’ honor.

  149. rktrix says:

    Oh, Karen, I’m so, so sorry for your loss. Isn’t is amazing, the power pets have to help us? To put us in touch with our feelings, but remind us that life goes on. Such blessings.

    Another blessing is that kindly vet who stayed open a little longer, as well as his sweet and caring receptionist. They are living right and doing right. I hope they know how much that sort of end of life care means to the patient and his / her guardian family.

    As for the other receptionist, I’m hoping Santa brought coal for her stocking. Or maybe sent Krampus her way. That’ll teach her!

    Hang in there, Karen. (((((hugs)))))

  150. Reggie Hargitt says:

    I am so sorry to hear about Cuddles.

    In November my 18 year old cat, Fergus, woke up one morning unable to move his back legs. For his age he had been quit healthy so this was out of the blue. My heart broke because he seemed to be so confused by his inability to move around. And he was in pain.

    I called the vet and got him in right away. She determined he either had a tumor or blood clot on his spine. Either way he would not recover.

    Fergus did not like to be held but he curled up on my chest and looked at me till we got to the vet. I had been going to leave for the weekend but waited to leave one day to finish up some things at home. Had I left as planned Fergus would have been alone to suffer. I was so grateful to be there for him. I cannot express how awful knowing he was alone and suffering would have been.

    I so relate to your need to make sure Cuddles was cared for and gently let go. She was a wonderful bird and Fergus was a great old boy and deserved our love.

    All the best to you,

  151. Trissi V. says:

    Karen, I am so sorry for you loss. Cuddles was a wonderful chicken. I loved the stories you told of her and how she was always ready for a closeup. Your tribute was lovely, though I don’t think I was prepared to read it…I cried like everyone else here. From the sounds of the comments, a lot of tears have been shed for you and Cuddles. Thank you for sharing with us, thank you to Dr. Camilleri for being a totally awesome vet…and RIP Cuddles, you really have no clue how you will be missed.

  152. kelli says:

    Did someone start cutting onions in here???

    Dog, cat, chicken, it doesn’t matter. She’s YOUR BABY, and you want all things good for her.

    *hugs* Just…hugs.

  153. Kathy says:

    I decided to take a few moments to sit on the couch with my Chihuahua Bella before going to the grocery store. I take a quick look at emails and well I’ll just read Karen and then leave.
    Maybe it is my age but I am so aware that she is 10 and the flip side of the care and laughs will be when the sweetest rescue dog friend passes away. You words put me in the room as cuddles held you. We are lucky to find an animal that brings love. I need to check a mirror to see if I can possibly still go to the store.

  154. SusanR says:

    The world is a better place for having your heart in it.

  155. olga says:

    Aww, I read the part when you said you told her it’s okay, she can go and it reminded me of my mother passing away. I had to fly 14 hrs to see her because cancer took over her, and the whole time going there, I was just praying and asking to keep her here with us so I can say goodbye to her. When I finally saw her and we got her to hospice I was praying to give her little bit more time with me. Two weeks later I was praying to the men upstairs just take her and I told her it’s okay to let go now. In the words of my own mother “one day we will all have to say good-bye to each other”. You were good mama to Cuddles, I’m sorry about your loss.

  156. janpartist says:

    Wow, beautifully written with love. I’m crying here at work (and I sit at the reception desk). Generous of you to share such a private story. Blessings to you.

  157. Judi wigren says:

    We feel so bad for your loss. We love our ” girls” too but have none that sound as cuddly.

  158. Deborah says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience; I’m sitting here in tears. The love and truth you tell resonates strongly and with integrity. You showed up for her when she needed you and that’s all any of us can do. I hope your love for Cuddles and your good memories bring you lasting comfort. Love never ends.

  159. Rose says:

    I am sobbing – I know what it is to hope (pray if you believe in that kind of thing) that a beloved pet will die in the night so that I do not have to proactively be the one to initiate the end. I don’t have chickens but I’m tempted to subscribe to Dr. Camilleri’s magazine just to show gratitude for his compassion to you.

  160. Thank you for not stopping in your quest to give your feathered friend a peaceful and loving transition. I felt that story in my heart; I wrote a similar piece about the loss of a furry companion. The story will stay with me and everyone who reads it; her legacy.

  161. Marty says:

    I’m crying with you……
    God bless and comfort you. ♥️♥️?

  162. Therese says:

    Karen, I’m so sorry. I feel the same way about my chickens and have recently said goodbye to my favourite, Selma, in exactly the same way. Hens are all different and truly do have their own personalities. Cuddles was a real character. Luckily for me I had a lovely vet and sensitive receptionist from the start. I can’t imagine how horrible it must have been to go through that first bit. Don’t use them again! A beautifully written tribute. I’m crying my eyes out. Hope you are feeling a bit better now 🙂

  163. Katie says:

    Our pets leave us too soon. We’ll all miss Cuddles.

  164. Jasmine says:

    So sorry for your loss Karen. Your heartbreak truly shone through the story of Cuddles. Sending you a virtual hug.

  165. Jen says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Cuddles.

  166. Theda says:

    Karen, sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing.

  167. Ann Brookens says:

    Oh, my goodness, Karen! As soon as I read the title, I thought, “Get out the handkerchief! That’s gonna make me cry!” And it did. What a stressful time for you. Cuddles was an amazing, unusual chicken and you were both lucky that she ended up with you. I’m so sorry that she is gone. Lots of hugs!

  168. Michele says:

    Man Karen,
    My husband just walked in the room and said “Are you ok? What’s wrong?” I said “Karen’s Cuddles died.” He just looked at me and with a big smile and said “You have to post a comment to your fellow Chicken Girl!” Here I am waiting for your post on Cuddles crying on a Friday evening. That receptionist!!!!….Like my sister and I always say, we want to just Pow! Bam! beat the crap out of those kind of people.
    So wonderful of Cuddles to leave you a sign that she’s with you!

    Thanks Karen for sharing!!!!!

  169. Danielle M. says:

    Never in all my years did I think I would cry over a chicken. But Cuddles? The special one she was and what she meant to you? Tears shed.

    And that feather is a gift I’m glad you received.

  170. Meghan says:

    Oh the tears. Karen I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing her story with us. I always loved hearing about Cuddles and even named one of my sister’s chickens after her. Though my sister should be banned from ever owning anything living again….we won’t go there. I’m so deeply touched by her story and the caring vet that made things easier, or as easy as they could be. The kindness and compassion of a good veterinarian and their staff can not be understated.

  171. Sherry Haning says:

    Your story about Cuddles brought me to tears. I am so glad you had her as a pet. God bless you and Cuddles!

  172. Many people might say, Just a chicken, but we know differently, Every living creature has its own personality. And Cuddles was a loving chicken! It was a mutual affection where you both gave and received enormous love.
    I sat one afternoon in my neighbors yard with her chickens. It was fun to watch how they interacted. I did five small paintings attempting to show their personalities. The small series I titled Chicken Sh*t. I wish I could send you pictures of my paintings but your blog does not allow for that.
    I am a bit of a crazy artist and I once photographed a bird that flew into my window and died. I photographed his beautifully colored wings and delicate feet and set it to music. My family thought I was nuts, but for me I felt I was honoring the beauty and joy this and other lovely bird bring into my life and the world .
    I respect the compassion you and many people like you have for your pets. To some she may be just a chicken, but given a chance with an open heart,” Love” enters and can save the world.
    Now please pass the Kleenex.

  173. Rachel says:

    Release. That’s what it’s about. You’ve finally spoken and we heard. Once upon a time my love and fiancé was diagnosed with MS around the same time my mama was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I gave up my fiancé to England where came his help and nursed my mother here. I began a new relationship with the father of my son and became pregnant. My son was born with Hydrocephalus in utero, water around the brain and doctors said to come in and take him out because he would be born dead. He didn’t die but we struggled with hospitals and seeing a lot of suffering, shunt surgery at 10 days old and seizures that I thought would kill him. We saw other children suffering in so many different ways. Our son was finally diagnosed with Autism. He has gifts I will not share entirely until I understand how he feels about them. My mother passed away when he was one year old. Two sickies in bed together, memories of that last year. I’ve been to hell but I came back. Bad things happen to make way for the new. A new Understanding of life on this planet. So you understand loss, even if it’s an animal, no difference. It’s horrible but you are now stronger and know where true love lies and you’ve made important friendships because of it. 2 years ago my husband fist bumped my son’s neurologist and surgeon Jouvert morning ( carnival Monday morning mass). I don’t expect any response to me sharing this, because only those who have seen can understand and that’s really ok. Cuddles had a special mom. And life was great with you, period. That’s all we ever need from life is to have a good one while we are here. Right now I’m fighting with my foundation to provide therapy for ASD kids in need, as I live in a third world nation with little knowledge of Autism, and wanting to adopt a little boy who was left home alone by his father when he was 3 years old, Austistic and motherless. My OT wants him too so we’re looking for lawyers to help us. He lives in the paediatric ward and is in restraints for most part of the day. Life is sh*t but the great ones strive to make it better for others. You do that everyday with this blog. Great watercolour by the way, came out almost as good as mine. ?

  174. Lisa says:

    That is the most beautiful love story ever! Thank you for sharing.

  175. Mindy says:

    Great.. now I’m crying. Thankfully, the kids are in bed and The Dad is out with the boys. So I shall feel your sorrow fully.

  176. Margot says:

    Thank you for having the courage to share this. I have not cried this much since going through something similar. You made the hardest of calls, to put Cuddles comfort ahead of your own heart. You are a good chicken mum and a kind and good person.

  177. Ritz says:

    Thank you for making me feel sad, and sorry, Karen.

  178. Debbe Van Ness says:

    Well, I’m sitting here crying, but I knew I would. A lovely tribute to a special soul. I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing.

  179. Jane Keene says:

    Karen…I am so very sorry about Cuddles….she was extraordinary!! Loved reading all the stories you shared with us. She was a very lucky girl to have chosen you to be her mama. Our pets are our family and it is so hard to let them go. I always swear after I lose one, I’m done…can’t go through it again. Then another cat finds me. I never go looking for one. I believe feathers are a connection and she is with you. Take care of you and Cheez Whiz?

  180. Karen says:

    It’s early Saturday morning. Everyone is still sleeping. And I’m awaiting the delivery of my new washer dryer. The delivery guys for sure are going to wonder ‘what’s up with this lady?’ I have put off reading this entry because I just knew what was going to happen. Well congrats Karen you nailed it. Yep I lost it. So sorry you lost your sweet Cuddles.

  181. Jac says:

    Aw, sheeezzzz…I HATE crying :\ Seriously. I do. I avoid sad movies like the Plague. But as a Chicken Mom myself, I’ve been waiting for this despite the guaranteed tear-fest. Thanks for sharing, Karen; I know it couldn’t have been easy for you. I’m glad you found the feather(s) as they must have brought you a smile through your tears. Everyone did their part in the Plan, here, as she was meant to comfort and heal you and you her. I guess death is the final healing in that it releases pain and earthly cares.

    Did the vet say if he thought it was that internal egg-laying thing?

    • Karen says:

      Oh she was definitely an internal egg layer. I knew that. And when he felt around her body she was definitely filled with fluid. Poor little thing. ~ karen!

  182. Cynthia says:

    Noooo, not Cuddles. So sad. I was crying into my eggs this morning as I read your post. Thank you for sharing her journey with us. I’ve used some of your chicken findings/info with my sweet, babies. It’s wonderful how those little bundles of fluff become a part of your heart.

  183. shawna says:

    That was a very real and touching story about Cuddles’ last few days Karen. I was so relieved to read that you found a doctor/vet who was empathetic and kind. Dr. Camilleri sounds like a special person. It sure seems that you and Cuddles had a unique bond. Isn’t it funny how certain pets seem to have an uncanny way of knowing what we need emotionally? I’m glad you had Cuddles in your life, even if it was for a short time.
    I am sorry for your loss.


  184. Miriam says:

    I put off reading this for a long time because I knew I would weep. Letting go of our pets is so hard. Being selfless is hard. Knowing we did as much for them as we could is meagre consolation at best.

  185. Tammy says:

    Sweet sweet Cuddles. Thank you Karen for being the best mama. Hugs xxx

  186. Jackie says:

    I started Reading that beautiful story last night and had to put it aside till no kids/distractions around. When I did finally read the whole story ~ wow! Just beautiful! ANd you will hold her again some day, I totally believe that!!!! I totally feel for you. Anyone who has ever lost a pet “gets it”. What a beautiful, wonderful thing came out of the yucky boyfriend relationship: Cuddles & the love you two had for one another. **btw – my eyes looked like red rimmed bull frog eyes after I ready your touching tribute, NOT attractive on a Friday night 🙂 ** xxx

  187. Renee says:

    I am sorry for your loss, but so happy you had a wonderful chicken in your life. Thank you for sharing your and Cuddle’s story.

  188. Cred says:

    Thank you for sharing Cuddles’ story. Heart-wrenching and beautiful! Such a lovely little hen she was- I’m glad that she found herself as you pet- you gave her a great life and clearly, she enriched yours.

  189. Kim says:

    Oh Karen. Sitting here w/ tears in my eyes as I read this. I’m so sorry for your loss. It was clear to everyone how much you loved her and how very special she was.

  190. Stephbo says:

    This was such a beautiful remembrance of sweet Cuddles and what she meant to you. I went through a similar situation with my beloved soul cat almost 3 years ago, and it’s still hard to think about. I’m going to a celebrating/memorial service tomorrow for him and my three other babies that I lost last year. It’s a nice little thing that the crematorium does for the owners. I’ll be sure to whisper a little extra prayer for Cuddles while I’m there.

  191. Cuddles sounds like my beloved Tippie. When the chicks arrived in the mail (four of them), one was significantly smaller than the others, and she seemed off-balance and wobbly. Harman (my husband) suggested calling her Rummy (she seemed a bit drunk!), but I suggested Tippie, since she kept tipping over, and then I thought we should name all our pullets after Hitchcock leading ladies (Tippi Hedron, Grace Kelly, Doris Day, Ingrid Bergman), and since Harman is a huge Hitchcock fan, this idea went over well. Five years later, after we’ve lost a brace of hens to a possum and one to fatty liver (!), Tippie is still the sweetest, most friendly hen of all. She comes when I call, she trusts me implicitly, she looks to me for protection. She has countless times hopped up on my lap just to be sociable. Once, she even cuddled next to me and laid an egg (her coop door had blown shut so she couldn’t get in to the nesting box, and I had come out on the patio and sat down, so she cuddled right up to me and plopped an egg out in a big hurry!) I love this little hen; I have saved her from numerous difficult situations, and taken her to the vet for antibiotics more than once. I now have to make sure she eats by placing her right in front of the feeder twice a day. I assume I will eventually have to have her put down, but for now she isn’t in any pain. And she is my darling.

  192. Jill Riley says:

    So sorry, Karen. I’m glad you and Cuddles had each other for as long as you did.

  193. Mark says:

    Wow. Powerful writing (as usual).

    I made the mistake of reading this at work. I didn’t realize how dusty it was there because my eyes suddenly starting watering….

  194. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Karen..I’m so sorry I have been missing you so much…Right now I am sitting here crying like a baby…I don’t know if I ever told you but we did have chickens when I was little and we lived in the country…also I would walk to a local farm to gather eggs with my big brother…Never ever have I seen a chicken like Cuddles…a sweet girl who would run and jump into your lap…she seemed to have genuine love in her tiny heart..She was born to be a pet…Be thankful that she was brought to you or all of her sweetness and love may have gone unnoticed in this crazy world…she may have passed long ago if it wasn’t for your loving tender care for her…I am glad that she is still there with you…and that you can still pick her up and hold her in your lap when you miss her so much that it feels like your heart will break in two…May she still be a comfort to you….Hugs, Nancy

  195. Charlotte says:

    Long time reader but finally a first time commenter (I think) to add my thanks for such a beautiful piece about your darling Cuddles. I, too, have shed some secret tears for an Internet stranger’s chicken, those mascara smudges are a tribute to Cuddles and her loving mama. How apt to learn of the white feather story at a time when it was most needed.

  196. I’ve been waiting to read this all weekend. So beautifully written Karen. I could barely see by the end of it.

    Thanks for sharing. <3

  197. Etta says:

    Karen, you and Cuddles were destined to be together. We’ll all miss the tales of Cuddles. Take care.

  198. MARILYN JOHNSON says:

    I hav not cried this hard in 20 years when I had to put my sweet 20 y/o dog “Hutch” down. I cried the week before and probably 2-3 weeks after that.

    My heart goes out to you.

    One of your faithful readers.
    Marilyn Johnson

  199. Heather (mtl) says:

    As incredibly sad this ending was for poor Cuddles, thank you for honouring her with your tribute. I am still, of course, sobbing, as this is all too close to the demise of one of my dearest furbabies. I do hope CheezWiz finds comfort – and a new friend! – to guide her through her own hardship and sorrow.
    Note on the feather: a dear friend of mine recently lost her beloved mother. She is slowly getting back on her feet, but is still just a puddle of her old self. For 3 days, each day after her mother’s passing, a dead bird was found in the backyard of her family home. Never happened before- nor has it happened since. I asked my friend how many children her mother bore. She had had 3 children. I think my friend finds comfort in that representation.
    I hope you find comfort in your feathers, too.

  200. Heather J Tebbutt says:

    What a wonderful tribute to Cuddles and to find 2 feathers…I got goosebumps also.
    Thank goodness you found the support & understanding from Dr. Camilleri & his receptionist.
    Reminded me of my late Uncle…he was a vet practicing in Berwick-on-Tweed (on the Borders of England & Scotland)…he was passionate about saving wildlife…swans, owls, hedgehogs,etc. even had a fox that slept with their dogs in the kitchen, it couldn’t be released in the wild.
    Growing up we always had cats…my all time favourite was a black & white longhair called ‘Boots’ she was very affectionate…I have many photos of her, so many happy memories…
    I like the photos you took at the gate with you & the chickens for the New Year…

  201. Pam'a says:

    A wonderful tribute for a wonderful creature…

    Could any chicken have left a better legacy or made you happier?
    I think not.

  202. Liz M says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Karen. We had to make a similar decision last fall with our sweet Rhode Island Red named Stella. I’m so glad you were able to connect with the second vet and experienced compassion and support from them. Cuddles sounds like an incredible chicken.

  203. maria says:

    What a beautiful story.. Cuddles will be missed that is for sure. Keep her on the bookshelf. I have a shelf on my bookcase that is home to all my former pets. Its neither creepy or weird.

    As for the first vet and receptionist… so not good….

  204. I knew this was going to be a rough post to read but dammit, I’m crying at work. I also want to punch that receptionist in the face. The first one, not the second.

  205. Amie M says:

    This was hard for me to read. I really wish I could have been there when my parents had to put down my cat. She had a wonderful like of 18 years, hunting outside and cuddling up to me inside. I moved away from home 9 years ago, half of her life ago, but every time I went home she would want to be with me and only me.

    She was my best friend through those horrible awkward teenage and preteen years. She listened to me every night talk about my day, and purred away until I fell asleep feeling better.

    She was my shadow and I felt terrible that I couldn’t be there with her at the end.

  206. Amy in StL says:

    I’m glad you finally shared the tale of Cuddles in full. It was a wonderful piece to read and I’m sorry you had to go through all that. What a terrible time you had and at the holidays to boot! I think of your chickens every time I pass the neighbor’s coop along the alley. They used to let their chickens roam but finally put up a higher fence so hopefully I won’t have to “rescue” them from the street again.

  207. Melissa says:

    Alright….I’m sobbing!! Beautifully written Karen. Little Cuddles is at peace. xoxoxo

  208. Kerri says:

    Would that every dog, cat, and chicken could find such love and such a vet.
    Cuddles lives on in your memories, warming your heart when she knows you need her – she left you that feather, didn’t she? When you think of her, remember to take a moment to feel sorry for those who have never opened their lives and hearts to the love of a pet,

  209. TAMARA says:

    Gulp, that just ripped my heart right on out! Beautifully written. . .so raw and relatable, as always. Your missives are little mirrors into your soul, and that’s what makes your writing so wonderful to read. I’m so sorry about Cuddles.

  210. Leslie says:

    I’m so sorry for you loss. Thank you for sharing.

  211. Laura Bee says:

    Who would have thought a chicken could touch so many lives? So sorry she is gone, so happy to have known her life story. Each chapter written & shared so perfectly – sweet, funny, dramatic and touching. Thank you so much.

    We had a few pet chickens when I was a kid. Usually one of the layers that was friendly, but we got to pick some fancy hens at the Stouffville Sales Barns a few times. I was at the hospital with our daughter tonight (who needed antibiotics & popsicles) & was telling her about my Bantam Blackie & her 13 babies she hatched. Another pet, one of the Rhode Island Red layers, was accidentally caught & given to my Nana. We got home from school & asked mom where Henrietta was – she frantically called to save her life but Nana already had her dressed for dinner.

  212. Leslie Rose says:

    Oh Karen, I would write more, but I’m sobbing too hard. I’m so sorry for your loss of Cuddles. Love to you.

  213. Maryanne says:

    What a beautiful life story of the love shared between a pet and her owner.
    It truly touched my heart!
    Finding a brown feather signifies
    Grounding, Homelife and Stability
    Just what cuddles gift was to you!

  214. Judy Jackson says:

    Man-o-man Karen, while writing this post, did you sob as much as I did while reading it? Bless your heart.

    • Karen says:

      You know, what? I didn’t Judy. By the time I wrote it I was ready to write it. But once all the comments started coming in? Yeah, that’s where I lost it, lol. Thanks for your thoughts. 🙂 ~ karen!

  215. Donna says:

    Okay, I’m at work, sitting at my desk crying! What a touching story. I’m a new subscriber and before I read this story I had no idea that chickens could be so sweet and would sit in your lap. What a special little baby God blessed you with. My heart hurts for yours and I pray you have some closure knowing you did what any loving mother would do when you can’t do anything else.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Donna. 🙂 It’s difficult to put any animal down but it’s something that has to be done and I know, really is the best thing to do no matter how painful. ~ karen!

  216. Bridgiite says:

    I came to your blog after searching for how to clean my cutting board & I enjoyed your writing in that post so I clicked over to your homepage & read this post. Now I’m sitting here crying over “an internet chicken”. I hope your good memories of what a sweet girl Cuddles was gives you much comfort, I think the love of an animal is one of life’s greatest blessings!

  217. Erin says:

    Ugh. I finally sat down and read this, and yeah, you’ve got me in tears. Conveniently enough, I’m battling a sinus infection so my husband across the room hasn’t asked what all the sniffling is about.

    I don’t have (or want) kids. My pets are my kids. They’ve made my life so much better, and I dread with every ounce of my heart the day I have to say goodbye to any of them. You did the right thing for Cuddles – which you already know, and which she knew, too. Still, I’m sorry she’s gone. <3

  218. Loralee Johnson says:

    This was beautiful and I cried so hard reading it. I think many of us reading your blog had an attachment to cuddles ourselves, even though we didn’t know her, we felt like we did. I’m so sorry you had to go through this, but it was so nice that you had extra time to spend with her and say goodbye. It was probably a blessing that the other vet couldn’t see you, he probably would have left you and cuddles with a terrible experience, and you were meant to think of Dr.Camilleri last minute and be able to have a beautiful, peaceful good bye.

    Love and hugs.

  219. WendyKate says:

    I remember when you got the chickens (I later had significant coop envy). And I remember reading about Cuddles several times over the years. It’s been a while since I’ve stopped in to the blog to check on you, but I’m sad to hear about Cuddles. But I love that you are who you are. And she was who she was. RIP Cuddles. xoxo, WendyKate

  220. Kathy Hartzell says:

    As you know, Karen, I am catching up. And the first archive I sought was your Cuddles post. I think what you wrote is a lovely piece of prose. I cried – for the “internet chicken” as I cried for my cancer kitty, the one who kept me cozy and happy during a dreadful year. I didn’t ever cry about my cancer. But the loss of a dearly beloved creature that accepts and cherishes you….that is something to let yourself cry about. I’m so glad I woke up and realized there was something important missing in my life.


  221. Karen says:

    Karen, I am a pediatric nurse (for 30 years). I also help raise collies.

    Some babies (of any species) are born small and frail. They require much more from us just to stay alive. We bring them back from the brink of death over and over.

    And in the process, they manage to make their way into our hearts. We love them. And when they die, our heart breaks.

    But after the tears and the grieving ease, we realize that they taught us so much that we did not know before we met them. We learned things that we will apply to other babies that will follow them. In an odd way we sort of grew up with them. They leave us better than we were before we met them.

    That’s not such a bad legacy to leave behind. Even for a chicken.

    Keep going the extra mile Karen. The weak and fragile need people like us. They have a purpose in life and a story to tell. We are the ones blessed to be able to tell it.

  222. Ellie says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I just came on here looking at your limping chicken article and was looking at your chicken stuff when I found this. I got 6 little chicks a year ago tomorrow from Tractor Supply. The first night they were out in the coop our 2 little Rhode Island Reds were pressed up against the chicken wire in the run because we didn’t know they had to go inside the hen house. They ended up being killed by a raccoon or fox that night while the others suffered minor injuries. I felt awful because they were growing in feathers and didn’t look to good so we never held them and played with them like the others. I spent the day wandering around, and crying. Now we have one more Rhode Island Red that we hope to keep alive for a long time. Her name is Maple. I just wanted to let you know that I feel the love you have for that chicken. I know Cuddles is in a happier place with all the sunflower seeds she wants. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Ellie. If I know Cuddles she’s stuffing her face with bananas and cherry tomatoes, lol. 🙂 Good luck with Maple! ~ karen!

  223. You’d think by now I’d learn not to slice onions while trying to read online stories… So sweet <3

  224. Sherri Stockfleth says:

    I should not have read that at work, bawling at your desk gets you funny looks from your co-workers. I have a small 2 year old Production Red (same breed as Cuddles) that is just getting over her 3rd bout of peritonitis so I completely understand your perfectly understandable wish that it was over in the middle of the night for them. I am sorry you had to go through that but I am happy for you that she is not sick or suffering anymore. My husband tells me that I need to do the same for Ali each time I break out the antibiotic for her…..but she is back to eating regular food and working her way up the pecking order today so not this time Man!

  225. Eduardo Jiménez says:

    After four days taking care of my chicken she’s died this morning in my arms. It’s been incredibly sad and I don’t really feel to write a lot about it, but your beautiful post has been very cathartic and I thank you for it. My little friend won’t be forgotten and I will keep one of her feathers with me.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Eduardo. I’m so sorry about your chicken. I know how awful it is and I know most people don’t understand that a chicken can be a pet. But I’m sure she had a much better life than you than she ever would have had anywhere else. ~ karen!

  226. Bill McK says:

    Such a bitter sweet story!
    I know you did the ONLY thing that was right for Cuddles, and I know of the VERY difficult decision you had to make for the bird and NOT your own (I’m looking for the word), “selfish” feelings.
    I had to go through this with my African Grey parrot of 22 years, and after all the testing I did (blood work, xrays, etc.), I took her to the vet on a Friday, and the following Monday, got a call from my vet saying she had passed.
    I know she was in pain, but birds hide their illness so as to not look weak, so since she was at the vets, and not with Daddy, she could go on her own.
    She had kidney failure and her urates were sky high, so I can only imagine how bad she was feeling. She was also regurgitating and not really eating, very weak, but still loved to be held by me.
    Keeping an animal alive for our own selfishness is NOT FAIR and is cruel for them.
    We try and do all we can for them, but there is a point that nothing will really work, and the best thing to do is to just let them go, and maybe even help them to pass quicker to end their pain and agony.
    I feel for your panic and anxiousness that you must have gone through, but you did the ONLY thing that was right for Cuddles!!!
    BOY, she lead a life of luxury with you though!!! REALLY spoiled her, and she loved it!

  227. Monica says:

    Hi. I just wanted to leave some love and respect for you, and Cuddles. I just came across your story on Pinterest, and I’m crying. I’m a first time chicken mama of a year and a half. I never thought that I’d have chickens, let alone love them so much. Chicken therapg is a very real thing, as i have learned from first hand experience as well. Reading about Cuddles made me smile, and cry, as I think about my own ladies, and their inevitable demise. I, also, will be unable to end their lives should they become deathly ill. I pray that I, too, have an angel vet to help me. May Cuddles R.I.P, and I thank you for sharing your beautiful memories.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks so much Monica. 🙂 I’ve had a few new chickens since Cuddles but none of them come close to her. She was a real pet. Your chickens are absolutely beautiful! I mayyyyy need to get a Buff Orpington. 😉 ~ karen!

  228. Kimberly Stocker says:

    I’m a year and nine months late to this party, but if you’re still reading your comments, I thought I’d write and tell you JUST how much I love the way YOU write.

    You write so wonderfully, in fact, that I just LIVED a couple of stories about the adventures of Cuddles.

    And now that I’ve finished the story of her death, I’m sitting here sobbing. Chest heaving, sniff-sniff-sniffing sobbing.

    My little Cleopatra is now permanently an indoor chicken. She swallowed a screw and was impacted with that and a bunch of pea gravel (which she also swallowed) and some kind of permanent damage was done and she can’t use one leg.

    I LOVE this chicken so am able to identify with how you felt about your sweet Cuddles.

    Time to try out a new Diaper pattern. I’m not a girly girl, but I want the one with all the big, pretty ruffles for my Cleopatra.

    Wish me luck.

    PLEASE keep on writing!

    Kimberly S.

    • Karen says:

      Oh I’ll keep writing Kimberly. It’s my job. 🙂 How else am I going to pay for chicken scratch? I’m probably not a girly girl either but I would totally go for the ruffled diaper! Good luck. ~ karen!

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