Humans and chickens have a complicated relationship. Show someone a fluffy little chick and they won’t be able to stop cooing; show that same person a grown-up chicken’s leg coated in a secret blend of herbs and spices and they’ll likely devour it in a heartbeat.
But sometimes something happens that blurs those lines. And sometimes, that thing is … wearing shoes.
This happened recently when a California dog-walker adopted a disabled chicken. As The Washington Post reports, Meesh Davignon of Escondido, California, became the pet parent to a Malaysian Serama chicken who was missing a few toes due to having scaly leg mites. She named her new feathered friend Nubz, as he walked around on the nubs of his feet.
(Nubz is gynandromorphic, possessing both male and female sex organs, but Davignon uses he/him pronouns for the bird.)
Malaysian Seramas are the smallest breed of chicken in the world, so Nubz topped out at a mere seven inches in height and less than one pound. It took Davignon’s other chickens a while to get used to the wobbly, pint-sized newcomer and, while her other chickens slept on a bar, toes are really key to how they grip, so Nubz slept in a carrier by Davignon’s bed.
However, Nubz’s health issues require regular applications of Vaseline with fresh bandages which, due to the patient being a chicken, would immediately become filthy.
The unlikely solution? Novelty Christmas shoes purchased for a Chihuahua. Nubz’s second-hand footwear helped his balance and protected his bandages, leading to a huge improvement in his quality of life and a startling breakthrough in cuteness. Davignon set up a TikTok page in Nubz’s name, and now regularly receives shoes in the mail for her tiny chicken pal, sent by strangers who have discovered the floofy fowl on social media.
Something about this tiny bird really strikes a chord with people, and they feel compelled to help him out with a sweet new pair of kicks. Nubz currently has more than 64 pairs of shoes, a large number of shoes even for a human. Basically, “Imelda Marcos, but a chicken” vibes.
Nubz is now 3 years old, and is living a truly blessed existence. In addition to his devoted mom, he has a growing fanbase—and an ever-growing shoe collection.
“He’s a sassy little chicken and he needs to be the boss,” Davignon told The Washington Post. “But he’s also sweet, cuddly, and extremely loving, and he likes me to snuggle with him. I adore him.”
At the moment, Nubz is giving his shoes a rest while he recovers from an issue with two degenerative disks in his neck that caused his head to tilt and made walking a challenge. He is currently receiving both physical therapy and acupuncture, with many of his smitten social media followers chipping in to help with the costs of his healthcare.
“They’ve been a great blessing,” Davignon told The Washington Post. “It’s surreal to have so many people love my tiny little chicken.”