When he wasn't relaxing in his air conditioned coop, Mr. Joy was a very busy rooster! He was a therapy chicken, patron of the arts and volunteered for charity.
Mr. Joy was featured in Spring 2009 Poultry Press

In May 2008 The Charlotte Observer tagged along with Mr. Joy to Golden Living Center to watch him work his magic with some nursing home residents.

Watch the video of Mr. Joy visiting the Golden Living Center here

Watch a great video by Peter Weinberger of Mr. Joy getting a bath here or here.

WCNC has a "story behind the pictures" report with photographer Davie Hinshaw who snapped the pictures for the Observer article

Mr. Joy was a special guest of talk show host Keith Larson on WBT radio Thursday, May 29th, 2008. You can see some video and photos from his interview.



Why did Mr. Joy cross the road?
To help folks re-coop

Mr. Joy, Therapy Chicken
Charlotte Observer photo by Davie Hinshaw

Therapy chicken cheers nursing home residents

AMBER VEVERKA  aveverka@charlotteobserver.com

He's the size of a softball and never is going to lord it over a barnyard. He's got a soulful sort of cluck and never is going to wind up on a plate next to the potato salad.

No, Mr. Joy has a higher calling. Mr. Joy is a therapy chicken.

Everyone's heard of dogs that cheer the sick or comfort the lonely. But these golden retrievers have nothing on the three-quarters-of-a-pound Old English game bantam rooster owned by Alisha Tomlinson of east Charlotte.

"Oh, it's just precious," whispered Kathryn Black, 81, as she cuddled a quiet Mr. Joy on his recent visit to the Golden Living Center in Charlotte. Mr. Joy settled himself onto Black's lap and closed his eyes. "You going to sleep?" she murmured, and made a low, humming sound as she petted him.

Mr. Joy came to the Tomlinsons from an elderly gentleman, who as Alisha puts it, "raised him from an egg." It soon became clear that he was destined for a career beyond the coop.

One day Alisha, a pet sitter, had to visit a client in an assisted-living center to care for the woman's cat. Mr. Joy had ridden along, and Alisha didn't want to leave him in the car. She brought him in and put him in her client's lap. Chicken magic.

"He stretched his neck out and she just stroked him," she said. The elderly woman, crippled with osteoporosis, lit up in a way Tomlinson had never seen. And Mr. Joy's mission of mercy was born.

Now the tiny rooster makes rounds to nursing homes, riding in a basket lined with chicken-print cloth, delicately pecking corn out of people's palms. Wherever he goes, people are moved to share their own chicken stories. That was true at the Golden Living Center.

"Chickens are like everybody else: They have their own personalities," said Jerry Crosby, 72, as he petted Mr. Joy. He recalled life on a mini-farm in Florida, and told about the hen his family had who "would adopt anything that moved."

He also related the tale of his father attempting to butcher a renegade rooster and accidentally nabbing the wrong bird, a saga which ended with "but we still had chicken for dinner!"

This generally is not the sort of story Tomlinson likes to hear, although she understands that many of Mr. Joy's new friends grew up with a different relationship to poultry than the one she has.

In addition to his therapy gig, Mr. Joy also has been known to show up at fast-food parking lots sharing a subtle message of vegetarianism. She simply waits by her car with Mr. Joy basket. "People come over and say "Is it real?' "

Tomlinson quietly hands them a brochure about factory farming while they stroke the chicken.

The Web site Tomlinson created for him (mrjoy.net) carries the motto "Just say `No' to the nugget!" But, she says, she keeps this part of Mr. Joy's resume low-key. "It's not a hard-core agenda," she said. "You catch more flies with honey."

Back at Golden Living Center, Mr. Joy took a stroll on the center's lawn, relieving himself and enjoying a fluffing of the feathers ("Shake it out!" Tomlinson said.) Then it was time to head home and return to his wives, Ms. Joy and Mrs. Joy.


Reprinted with permission from The Charlotte Observer
Mr. Joy at Walk For Farm Animals
Mr. Joy attending the 2005 Walk For Farm Animals in Asheville, NC 10/8/05. Read more about Farm Sanctuary on the "Nuggets!" page!
Mr. Joy
Mr. Joy out and about at a charity art opening
Mr. Joy
Nobody is immune to Mr. Joy's charms
Mr. Joy
Mr. Joy working the crowd at an MAD Studio