Meet Lil' Dood. We weren't supposed to have him, but he didn't care. And neither did we.
Candie's need was the first inspiration, this supernatural story is the second. My Dad passed away March 19, 2006… a few months after Katrina and a week after my 33rd birthday.
On the anniversary of his death several years after he passed away, I was standing outside thinking about him and the wisteria plant he had given Stephen and I. My thoughts wandered to how he had this oddball love for bantam chickens and how he appreciated the spirited little things. I thought it was funny because they were supposed to be cross and territorial.
That afternoon, I kid you not, my Mom called and said that a chicken was walking around her apartment complex parking lot and asked if I wanted it. It’s a residential neighborhood and NO ONE kept chickens. (I didn’t know Moss Point, Jackson County, MS had laws against owning chickens, so I said “Sure”.)
So, here she comes, bringing this small bag- like the ones tree huggers like us use instead of plastic grocery bags. I asked “Well, where is it?” and she said, "In this bag". So, she takes this little skinny thing out and it walks around the kitchen. We didn’t know for sure if it was a chicken because it looked scrawny, like a roadrunner… but the minute “it” saw our pet Duck, he “bowed up” making the gender and message quite clear. I complained, “Oh, no, it’s a little dude!” because they are notorious for being mean-spirited. Great, I thought, now we have this little thing to kick our butts all the time. I can't not love any animal, so, he had a home and his new name, Lil’ Dood, stuck.
We kept this little guy, crowing and all, a secret. He didn't beat us up. He did dances when we clapped our hands and sang, but he was so lonely. He followed anyone and everything around the yard, mumbling “butter butt” to us, cats, other birds and the grumpy duck. He had even gotten to the point where we could pet him and he’d let us pick him up. This doesn’t sound anything like the mean, feisty little bantams I’ve heard from old timers’ stories.
So, we get him a hen. While she was being acclimated to the yard in a separate pen, Lil Dood tried to show his appreciation for her beauty—to which, she tried to open a can of whoop-ass on him. Good for him there was at least a barrier to save his physical feelings. His emotional ones? Not so much.
She continued to whoop him at every opportunity, so we got him another one. This one must be THE one :) It was love at first sight. Pretty soon, he was scratching the ground and offering her food. What?! This is the mean little cranky breed everyone talks about?
Later, came the chicks. He was an even “better” father than he was “husband”. During the “pregnancy”, he was a wonderful husband and doted on the hen whenever she came out and, often, scratched and danced inside the nest box at her. Just about the only time he was cantankerous was when she bumped into him while he was asleep.
After the bantamlets hatched, he would scratch and point out bugs and food, not eating it himself- instead, offering his finds to the chicks. One grew up to be another “Lil’ Dood” who often tested his boundaries, yet Lil’ Dood, Sr. never pecked him, although he did put him in his place.
I can’t remember what happened to the little hen, but he was sad and lonely after she passed. He had a good life, although one without a mate, afterwards. Eventually, loose neighborhood dogs snuck into our fenced-in yard and that was the end of Lil’ Dood and a few of our other pets. I miss him and he continues to live on in a story I love to tell.
What makes Lil’ Dood supernatural?
First, the way and day we got him, exactly on the anniversary of my Dad’s passing, on a day when random, wistful thoughts turned into a funky walking reality. This tells me that God (whatever name anyone chooses to call “It”) has both a sense of timing and humor. Secondly, in relation to my Dad, I suppose this little bantam embodied the characteristics that he wished he could have been in his life: gentle, doting and vigilant. In my Dad’s sober times, this is what we had (on occasion). I suppose this is why we mourned his alcoholism so much.
Either way, we appreciate the time we spent with such a comic relief that was Lil’ Dood, and we know we gave him a good life while he was here. Just like my Dad.