Albeit on page three of my prayer list, the petition keeps showing up. Often the need is traced to crafty Arkansas tourism people. On the cutting edge of ingenuity, they’re forever coming up with new ways to urge the rest of America to “come on down.”

I must drop to my knees again, because I want to be delivered from cynicism. A cynic’s life has too many jagged edges, and time is wasted slopping about in the shallow slush of cynicism.

Give me the high road. In these days when it’s rare to hear the word “flu” without “Asian Bird” in front of it, I give Arkansans wide berth for truth-telling. I’m taking “the chicken way out” about a bird in its final “roosting place” at that great henhouse in the sky.

I refer to Boo Boo, a chicken found floating, beak down, in the family pond near Arkadelphia back in February. The “excitable hen” was presumed dead by owner Jackie Calhoun.

His sister, retired nurse Marian Morris, wouldn’t give up, however. She administered “mouth-to-beak” resuscitation. The bird’s eyes “popped wide open,” and she was soon up and about again, this time with celebrity status.

Boo Boo flew to Los Angeles — uhhh, was FLOWN to Los Angeles — for a gig with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show. She also clucked a bit on the Animal Planet Network, and seemed primed for much preening, stardom and serious strutting.

Tourism folks salivated, envisioning visitors flocking to the “Natural State” to see a supernatural chicken.

“Hey, don’t forget us,” screamed the ivory-billed woodpecker die-hards, vowing that their favorite bird, thought to be extinct, has come back to life, too.

Surely the PR guys have spent the spring writing ads about killing “two birds with one Arkansas vacation.” Maybe not those exact words, but you get the drift.

But plans went afoul a few days ago. Boo Boo kicked the bucket, and this time she stayed dead.

Benjamin Franklin warned us about dangerous slips ‘twixt cups and lips. And poet Robert Burns could have taken additional twists with his treatise about the “best laid plans of mice and men” often going awry. He could have had fun throwing a chicken into the mix, but adding chickens to “best-laid plans” might have caused apoplexy or something. (Besides, the linkage to humor could cause serious grave-spinning.)

Why pay for advertising when news coverage is free? This has long been the credo of PR people who’d much rather stand on the diving board’s edge, willing to “take the plunge” if it means a flood of public awareness.

Rarely has a fowl’s life been re-visited with such scrutiny. She was on camera regularly during the 90+ days of post-CPR. Owners claim that it wasn’t until then that they knew if she was male or female.

Pedro, a plucky barnyard rooster, could have told them. Before she died, Boo Boo laid three eggs, one of which was incubated. And wouldn’t you know it? It hatched, and is the “spittin’ image” of Mom. It, too, has black and white markings, with feathers that one day will need preening — or maybe pruning.

Boo Boo’s pictures show feathers high on the ruffle scale, like her beak’s stuck in a light socket.

For a while, Pedro was on the list of prime suspects, but the Calhouns no longer fear “foul play.” They think she died of seizures.

This is not to say Pedro didn’t cause them. They believe that the seizures, whatever the origin, may have caused her to flop into the pond to begin with.

Tourism people would rather focus on folks rushing to Arkansas to see ivory-billed woodpeckers and Boo Boo II.

On the cusp of summer, the world news spotlight is on Arkadelphia. Why there’s never been such a glut of publicity since a guy was arrested for DWI on his tractor.

Up here on the high road, I just hope Boo Boo’s life can be remembered as a source of happiness for the Calhouns, the grandchillin’ and the neighbors. We don’t need for her death to be associated with the dreaded Asian Bird Flu. Or some Internet blog linking her with “Chirpees, a rare ‘canarial’ disease that usually is ‘untweetable’.”

My gut feeling is that the nurse, caught up in the rare CPR moment, blew too hard. Boo Boo, though a bird of great resolve, was miserably over-inflated, but somehow able to delay the explosion until the summer travel season.


Dr. Don Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. His column appears Mondays. He may be contacted via e-mail at

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