When the World Shut Down, This 9-Year-Old Created an Unlikely Bond with 6 Chickens


Editor’s Note: America’s Best Pet Pals is a nationwide search for the animal friendships that make you laugh, cry, and purr. Reader’s Digest honors the best in pet friendship in print, online, and on social media. This is the winner in our “People to Animals” category. To see winners in other categories and our full list of finalists, go to

We’ve heard many stories of the heartwarming bonds people create with animals, including the goose that came home after 20 years and the improbable friendship between a camper and a bear, but this egg-celent story of chickens is one that is unlike anything you have heard before.

sophie and chickens: Sophie making an impression of one chicken's foot; sophie and her brother holding chickens and wearing chicken hats; portrait of sophie and family with chickens, dog, and cat; sophie on the floor head-to-head with a chicken
Courtesy Emily Chromczak (4)

The death of a chicken

The beloved Captain Flint suffered a premature death due to a hawk attack. Having watched the attack, Sophie was absolutely heartbroken. The family conducted a small chicken funeral to mourn the loss of one of their own. Sophie mourned by painting Captain Flint and wearing a pendant with a photo of the chicken that she has not taken off since.

“Her chickens are teaching her about love, loss, and grief and Sophie has handled it well,” said Emily. “In a few short months, these chickens have taught us to relax, accept situations we cannot change, and find joy where we can. They’ve brought us comfort during uncertain times and changed our lives. I am grateful.”

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