British Columbia

Disabled rooster loves his new wheelchair

It’s unusual to spot a rooster with deformed legs cruising around in a custom-fitted wheelchair, but hey, Louise is no ordinary bird.

Therapy bird Louise keeps defying the odds and helping at-risk children

Louise glides around Sali's Farm in his new wheelchair with the grace of a swan. (Sali's Farm)

It's unusual to spot a rooster with deformed legs cruising around in a custom-fitted wheelchair, but hey, Louise is no ordinary bird.

For starters, Louise's name is a little odd for a rooster.

He was mistaken for a hen when he was born on a chicken farm.

It's a good thing too, because most baby roosters are slaughtered.

He benefited from another stroke of luck when the children who lived on the farm took a liking to him.

A young volunteer shares a moment with a feathered friend at Sali's Farm. (Sali's Farm)

They saw that Louise couldn't compete for food with the other birds because of his deformed legs, so they convinced their parents to send him to Sali's Farm in Langley.

"He arrived at our farm in 2015 as a baby hen and as he grew, it slowly started to dawn on us that he wasn't a hen," said Sali's Founder, Keryn Denroche.

Sali's founder, Keryn Denroche, says Louise is the friendliest rooster anyone could ever meet. (David Horemans/CBC)

"Louise was a rooster."

The name stuck.

Resilient bird

Louise has been through surgeries, numerous X-rays and many orthopaedic consultations to fix his legs but nothing has helped.

He has worn chicken booties on both feet since last spring when he lost a pair of toes to an infection.

Louise has specially designed booties to protect his feet from any scrapes and bumps. (David Horemans/CBC)

Denroche wanted to help her feathered pal, so she found him a wheelchair.

"I went online and I spent a lot of hours looking for help for Louise and I found a company that makes avian wheelchairs down in the states," she said.

"I was so excited that I discovered them!"

Now that he has a wheelchair, Louise glides around the farm with the grace of a swan.

"The main part of [the chair] is a soft material that is made into a support system for his chest," Denroche said.

"Their two legs go through some holes in the bottom of it, and that is supported on a frame. It has four wheels and so Louise, when he's in the wheelchair, has two legs touching the ground, so that he can be mobile."

Therapy rooster

Sali's Farm is a non-profit organization that connects children that have been victims of abuse, violence or neglect with therapy animals.

Denroche says they feel a special connection to Louise because of all the hardships he has been through.

Louise is one of the stars of Sali's farm where kids come to learn about farms and taking care of animals. (David Horemans/CBC)

"Now, when the kids come, they hear about his story and they see him with his very visible disability and it just resonates with the kids, because some of their stories aren't that great," she said.

"When they come here, they get unconditional love from Louise and that can have a really big impact on them."

Some of the visitors ask Denroche if she has considered changing Louise's name.

She says not a chance.

"A lot of people think that we should have changed it to Louie, once we learned that he was a rooster," she said.

"His name is such a big part of his story and he has survived so many things in his short life that he deserved to keep his name."

Keryn and the other volunteers are looking forward to watching Louise truly spread his wings and learn to run in his new wheelchair this spring. (David Horemans/CBC)