Don’t mention Christmas – but one turkey might just avoid the oven this year after becoming best friends with his owner.
Animal lover Dave Brooker goes everywhere with his beloved pet turkey Trouble Version Two – or T2 for short – who is like a child to him and has followed him everywhere from the pub to the dentist since she was born two years ago.
Locals in Maidstone, Kent, are often baffled as they see the 56-year-old sat alongside T2 in his car when they stop at traffic lights, or when he feeds her favorite snack – the meat from a scotch egg – in the middle of a Tesco’s car park.
She can often be seen casually sitting in the White Horse pub in Maidstone with a packet of cheese & onion crisps and has had such an effect on her owner that he’s stopped eating turkey for Christmas dinner.
But though some people find their undeniably strong bond a little unorthodox, the pair are inseparable and even sleep in the same room together at their home in the village of Wouldham, Kent.
“She’s like my child,” Brooker said.
“There’s a mutual bond. She’s good company and entertaining – sometimes I even think she’s part human.”
The unlikely duo’s story began when Brooker, who keeps turkeys for their eggs, was forced to care for newborn T2 before he could return her to her mother, Trouble.
“Her mom was sitting on a dozen eggs and the weather turned awful,” he said.
“The first two that hatched died, so I set up a brooder to get the turkeys strong enough to go back under their mom.
T2 was the first one out and Brooker fed her for 10 or 11 hours. She was on her own with Brooker checking on her and must have thought he was her parent. The others all went back underneath the mother quite easily, but not T2.
“Ever since, she literally goes everywhere with me,” Brooker said,
One of T2’s favorite outings is to the car park of the Tesco store in Tovil, Kent, where she feasts on her favorite snack.
Brooker feed her in the car park because she loves the sausage meat on scotch eggs. She absolutely adores that and it’s her treat when she goes to Tesco. Brooker and T2 also go to the White Horse in Maidstone; she’s been going there since she was a baby.
“I’ve got a video of her walking on the bar as a little chick,” Brooker said.
Indeed the only time the pair are separated is when Brooker goes to work as an online order picker for Tesco.
T2 is such a feature in her owner’s life she even accompanies him to the dentist.
“I was at the dentist recently and I asked the receptionist if she could turkey-sit for me,” Brooker said.
“She thought it was a joke, but then I brought T2 in. They all loved it.
“Most people think it’s really strange, but it’s actually a really good talking point.”
T2 is fast becoming a normal sight amongst locals, who frequently spot her sat alongside her owner in his car at traffic lights or at the pub for a pint.
Brooker added a Somalian man who recently noticed T2 in the pub said she reminded him of his childhood days when he kept turkeys on his family’s farm.
“She draws quite a fair bit of attention from people,” he said.
She’s very well-behaved. At the pub, she sits on her blanket and stays there. Unlike most dogs who would run around, you sit her down with a pack of cheese & onion crisps and she’s happy. She’s very tame, very sociable and well-behaved. She doesn’t wander off and she lets people pet her.
“Quite often I’ll be feeding her in Tesco car park and kids will come over, and adults.
“It just helps people think about turkeys in a different way, because most people actually haven’t seen a live turkey.”
Brooker added he sometimes gifts people turkey eggs to let them try them, as he still keeps a flock of eight at the home of a friend.
But T2 is the only one who lives in his home with him and even shares his bedroom.
Brooker’s companion has had such an impression on him in their short two years together that he now chooses to abstain from eating turkey at Christmas, and refers euphemistically to December as the time of year when all the turkeys ‘go on holiday’.
“I don’t eat turkey anymore,” he said. “I used to, but I couldn’t now. Not with a pet turkey. It would be like someone eating dog.
“When you keep an animal it’s quite hard… maybe if you’re a farmer you can switch off to it, but I’m a bit of a softy.
“Turkeys are interesting birds and they look prehistoric. T2’s my little velociraptor.”
“Some people might find it very strange, but some people have 70 cats and they don’t even clean up after them,” Brooker said.
Brooker went through a bad spell of anxiety and depression back in 2014, and it’s helpful to have a bond like this with an animal.
“People are worried she’ll run away when I feed her in the Tesco car park – but she’d never do that.
“If we were all the same the world would be boring, and there’s a lot weirder things that happen than a man keeping a turkey.
“She just makes people smile, which I think is fantastic.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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