LEONA BOWLING calls her rooster a watch chicken "because he makes more racket over a strange noise than my dogs do."
Prissy is the apple of her eye, she says, "because he is so unusual. I never knew a chicken could be so smart.
"He follows me like a dog, and if I'm walking out front and Prissy wants my attention or wants me to go faster, he'll fly up against my back over and over to push me on. If I call the dogs, Logan and Molly, he won't respond until he hears his own name, then he comes faster than the dogs.
When Prissy was given to Bowling last March, he was so tiny she had to teach him how to eat. "I gave him a girl's name before he crowed and I knew he was a rooster. Now he crows at all hours because he's in the house at night, and if someone turns a light on in his room he's up and crowing," says 32-year-old Bowling, who works as an exercise instructor for seniors and in other such programs for the Baltimore County Board of Education and Catonsville Community College. She lives with her husband, Maurice, their 17-year-old son, Charles, and her mother, Shirley Croker, on a 188-acre farm in Baltimore County.
Bowling's two dogs are the rooster's buddies. "He eats with them, sleeps with them and if they are outside and Prissy becomes frightened by a noise, he'll yell out with weird cackling noises and wait by the front door until I come out to see what's up," says Bowling, adding that if she is scratching Prissy's head, he'll peck the dogs to keep them away.
The dogs are also unusual pets. Logan is a purebred German shepherd bought from a breeder when he was 8 weeks old. He has some unusual firefighting instincts. "Those who haven't seen it don't believe it, but Logan opens and closes doors, and he hates fire. If you light a match he'll grab it in his mouth, putting it out. When our trash can caught on fire, Logan knocked it over and rolled the can over and over until the fire was out," she says.
Molly was abandoned in the area about two years ago. Her veterinarian estimates she is 4. Molly is unusual looking, and Bowling says she can't come up with any specific breed for her.
"And no one can tell me what species of chicken Prissy is. He doesn't seem to have feathers, it's more like fur. Some is long blond on the back of his head and the rest is brown or brownish gray with soft gray fur coming out of his feet. And, back of his eyes on the side of his face where his cheeks would be, there are spots of blue and purple skin that are shiny. It's as if Prissy has been made up with cosmetics.
"I can't find a look-alike for him in any book. I took him to the state fair this year in Timonium and to the feed store and to the lady who gave him to me, and not one person knew what variety of chicken he might be," says Bowling, who also owns a guinea pig, cat, two cockateels and a dove.
Bowling is an animal advocate. "I'm big on animal rights, and I get so aggravated when I see a fur coat. I've found fox and raccoons in traps here and I know how they suffer. Is that a price to pay for a human luxury? I'll prosecute anyone I find trapping or hunting on this property," she says.