My pet turkey?

November 22, 2018

I’ve been wondering about what kind of a family pet a Sanpete turkey would make. We have a dog. Archer seems to know his name and can obey a certain number of commands. He knows “stay.” He knows “sit.” He knows “jump in the back of the truck.” He knows other commands too.

I wish he knew “stop shedding hair all over the house!” But in Archer’s defense, that would be like asking a human to learn “stop breathing.”

Archer knows how to talk too – kinda. He uses body language. And he uses eye contact. Often those behaviors are actually combined with vocalizations which sound like, “Uh uh … uh uh uh…uh uh” in kind of a whining dog voice.

If you were to use Goggle Translate for dogs (if they had such a thing), you’d find out the meaning of that communication. It is: “Open the door, dumb guy, and let me out. I need to go potty.”

Now, I don’t know of any turkey I’ve met that is capable of any of those things that my dog can do. Most turkeys that I’ve been around (ones that are alive anyway), don’t seem to me to be capable of much training. They don’t strike me as being all that cute or cuddly either. I know they’re cuter when they’re baby poults (that’s turkey talk for “chick,” if you didn’t know), but still.

I guess I shouldn’t knock the idea of turkeys for pets on the basis of them not being very trainable. I know people who have snakes for pets. But I’ve never seen a snake that knew “jump in the back of the truck” either.

Why am I talking about this concept of turkeys for pets? Maybe you’ve heard, or maybe you haven’t; that there is to be or has been (I’m not certain of the timing) an historic act of mercy by Pitman Farms, the owner of Norbest Turkeys in Sanpete.

In the wake of the animal activist hubbub of complaining about turkey farmers and court action associated with trespass and theft allegations, Pitman is releasing 100 live turkeys to the animal activist organization “Direct Action Everywhere.” It is a voluntary act as part of what looks like an unlikely friendship that has started between the leaders of the Pitman Farms and Direct Action Everywhere.

I read an account in sentientmedia.org. It is reported there that there are plans by the animal activists to hand out vegan food and holiday gifts to the employees of the turkey processing plant and local residents.

Pitman will release 100 birds, which will be “transported to local sanctuaries, where they will live out their days as animals, not food. The exchange promises to be touching”.

Other reports I read was that the turkeys will be family pets in good homes presumably. I’m not aware of “local sanctuaries” for turkeys otherwise.

I’m not sure what it feels like to live life as food versus living as an animal. My understanding of the food chain in the wild is that about every creature lives life as food for some other creature.

Man, of course, is at the top of the food chain in most instances. I have been swimming in the ocean a few times and wondered if I was living my life as food. (Think about the theme music to the movie “Jaws.”)

All in all, this is a pretty big deal. I mean the president of the United States has historically given one turkey or maybe two turkeys a presidential pardon at Thanksgiving time. But we’re talking about a cool one hundred of the birds in this instance in Sanpete County.

I don’t know though. I think I’m still going to have to stick to the recommendation of having a dog for a pet. Or a cat. Or a guinea pig. Or a hamster. Or a ferret. Or a pig even. I don’t recommend skunks or reptiles. (I think I’ve mentioned my brother’s pet skunk here before.)

If it’s going to be a bird. I’d say stick with one that will sit in a reasonably sized cage and do a little singing. That would be a parakeet or a canary. A parrot or a cockatoo or the like might be okay – but I know that they’re pretty high maintenance.

If you get a turkey as a pet and have success with obedience training or even singing, let me know. I want to see it.

Oh – by the way, Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! Enjoy the holiday. And may you enjoy whatever type of protein that you find upon your beautifully decorated Thanksgiving table. We can all agree that the candied yams with marshmallows on top and the pumpkin pie are delicious, can’t we?

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