Milfred the rooster is being remembered in Oakland for his bold voice, charismatic character and local fame.
The neighbors eventually will get used to the silence in the early-morning hours, but it will take Maureen Jacobson a long time to mend the hole in her heart.
Milfred, the popular rooster living with Jeff, Maureen and Hannah Jacobson in Oakland since he emerged from his egg five years ago, died early Thursday morning, May 24, from injuries he sustained in an attack in his backyard.
Milfred wasn’t an ordinary rooster, and he was more than just a pet to the Jacobsons. He was a member of their family.
Maureen Jacobson — and many in the Oakland community — are mourning the death of Milfred, the beloved rooster that spurred a children’s book, “Milfred Made the News,” and a proclamation declaring April 14, 2015, Milfred the Rooster Day in the town of Oakland.
“Kids would ride down the street and down the bike trail, and it didn’t matter how old they were, when they rode by our house they would cock-a-doodle-doo and want Milfred to cock-a-doodle-doo back.”
— Maureen Jacobson
He was the equivalent of 26 in human years.
As news spread on Facebook, where Milfred has his own page, folks began reaching out to the Jacobsons with their condolences and their own stories about the popular rooster.
Milfred became a household name in Oakland in 2013, when he went missing for a few days before showing up at Oakland Avenue Charter School, where Maureen was working. The story made the local news in print and on air.
This was the inspiration she had been seeking to write a children’s book.
“Milfred Makes the News” chronicled the pet’s escapades. Once the book was published, the writer and her rooster were invited to many book signings. The book also was added to the Winter Garden and downtown Orlando branches of the Orange County Library System. Maureen received several awards for the book, has written a second one and is working on a third.
When Elaine Morgan, a clerk at the Oakland Post Office, came across rooster stamps that looked exactly like Milfred, she ordered some for the downtown Oakland branch.
“Kids would ride down the street and down the bike trail, and it didn’t matter how old they were, when they rode by our house they would cock-a-doodle-doo and want Milfred to cock-a-doodle-doo back,” Maureen said.
In the last week, local parents have been sharing with Maureen photos of their families reading the book. Others said they read the book to their children and then told them the sad news.
TOO MANY INJURIES
Maureen was out of town when the attack happened, and Milfred refused to let Jeff near him, so the extent of the injuries was unknown. A few days later, Jeff noticed the rooster acting lethargic. He was able to wrap him in a towel and get him to a veterinarian, who discovered a large gash on Milfred’s back, a broken vertebrae and a punctured lung. He became septic because of the bacteria in his system.
Jeff called Maureen via Facetime so Milfred could hear her voice.
“I’m in this store Facetiming my rooster to get him alert,” Maureen said. “He perked up and bock bock bocked.”
The family was given medication for their pet, but when it became clear he wasn’t going to recover, they mentally prepared to let him go.
“I took him around to say goodbye to all the chickens,” Maureen said.
He died at home, under a heat lamp, with Maureen by his side.
“I was with him when he was hatched and took his first breath, and I was with him when he took his last breath,” she said.
The Jacobsons, while distraught over the death of their pet rooster, are proud of him for his final act of bravery.
“The dog also attacked one of our hens, and Milfred made so much noise, clucking so loud, that Jeff heard him and came out and we were able to save the hen,” Maureen said. “Milfred, even in his wounded state, was still able to save one of his best friends.”
MILDRED BECOMES MILFRED
After Maureen’s husband gave her a chicken coop for Christmas in 2012, she did some research to find chickens that would produce the best eggs. She decided on the Americana chicken and ordered an egg from an acquaintance in California who raises organic, free-range chickens.
“He made the trek (as an) egg, and we put him in the incubator,” Maureen said. “We named him Mildred but changed it to Milfred after he cock-a-doodle-dooed.”
Milfred was quite the character, the cock of the walk, the leader of the henyard.
Maureen said he ran toward her when she called his name and did a little chicken dance for her.
His favorite snacks were grapes, blueberries, apples, watermelon, French fries and mashed potatoes.
She has so many stories of her family pet.
“If I sneezed, he would make a noise and ‘say’ bless you; he was amazing,” Maureen said. “One year we were cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and I have a picture of him coming in and checking it out. Bock bock bock bock. … He would love to come in and sit in the bathroom and look at himself in the mirror and talk to himself.”
Maureen has contacted Master Taxidermy Studio, in Ocoee, about preserving the rooster.
“I always said when the day came that Milfred died I wanted to preserve his memory in the best way possible and that was to keep him physically with me somehow,” she said.
She contacted Master Taxidermy because it was a 43-year-old family-owned business. It is operated by Derrick Powell, but his grandfather, company founder John Bartoletti, has agreed to come out of retirement to handle Milfred. The company has a policy to not taxidermy family pets but is making an exception because the rooster is a local celebrity.
“I’m going to keep him in the house,” Maureen said. “I just loved him so much, and he was my pet. When people have a prized animal that they got when they were hunting, well he was my prized animal that I loved as a pet.
“When the day comes to do more stories, I can look at it and get inspiration instead of looking at a picture,” she said.
Maureen has set up a gofundme page to help raise $550 for the taxidermy. Donations can be made at GoFundMe.com/MFRD52418.
“I'll miss him welcoming me when I came home … and him running into my house whenever his grandson Pancake would chase him,” Maureen said. “He was such an incredible rooster. I don't know how our backyard will ever be the same without him in it.”