If one happens to be gathering with friends or family over a meal this holiday season, especially if that meal happens to include either turkey or cranberry sauce, chances are someone is going to bring up Bristol’s new celebrity: “Cranberry, the Turkey That Thinks It’s a Dog.”
At this point a debate may ensue. The room is likely to divide into two fractions. Does the turkey actually think that she is the same species as the dogs, or has she just adapted to dog society, learning their culture and body language in order to survive? If left unchecked, the comparisons between dinner and the beloved family pet may lead to an unexpected quantity of leftovers.
In order to help streamline the inevitable discussion over the relative sentience of turkeys and dogs, here is a Breakdown of Cranberry’s Unusually Dog-Specific Traits:
- Goes on walks, following closely at the heels.
- ”Barks,” or rather makes a honk-like burst of sound, more abrupt and staccato than the “gobble gobble” noise a turkey usually makes.
- Acts like a “Guard Dog” with her distinctive alert call.
- Loves being petted. When this occurs she relaxes and “hunkers down.”
- Eats dog biscuits and dog food.
- Gets away with stealing food from the bowls of two fully-grown Labradors.
- Intimidates, or “Alphas” the other dogs, who normally otherwise would eat her. They dare not steal her food.
- Desires to be close to people and “in their space.”
- Does not mimic the traits of horses or other types of animals she has been exposed to.
Aside from people, dogs are likely the only predator a stray turkey would have in Bristol, England. That’s where Cranberry was found, wandering around in a parking lot, before being adopted by Jerry and Dawn Watkins. 55-year-old Mr. Watkins is the National Director for Equine Welfare at HorseWorld in Bristol. The Watkins live at HorseWorld with Teal and Widgeon, their two Labrador Retrievers, a breed of dog that would ordinarily kill such a bird.
Watkins elaborated: ”Dawn and I live on-site and often take in waifs and strays. She’s a very friendly and affectionate bird. We were very careful about introducing her to the dogs, but Cranberry seemed unconcerned. The dogs were intrigued and just wanted to sniff her.”
The Labradors not only accept her as a fellow dog, they show all the signs of accepting her as a pack leader. “She’s the head honcho. She will pinch the dog’s feed but they would never dream of trying to get it back from her. She’s now got her own dog bowl for her corn and occasional dog biscuits to stop her stealing food from the dogs. Every morning, we let them out and the dogs follow her around,” Watkins said.
Her interactions with humans resemble those of a dog as well, from guarding a path with bark-like vocalizations, to a desire to be “in people’s space.” Watkins explains, ”She loves being stroked. If you stroke her, she will go into a relaxed state. She will hunker down. It’s quite charming.”
As someone who works daily with many animals, Cranberry’s behavior doesn’t seem so unusual to Watkins. “Once animals get to know each other, they understand their body language and behavior so it doesn’t really surprise me. The only thing she won’t do is fetch. She picks things up but just eats them.”
Turkey thinks it’s a dog!
Turkey thinks it’s a dog! Rescued bird loves going for walks, lives in a kennel and even ‘BARKS’