I have recently been thinking about all the pets I have had since childhood. Reminiscence can be difficult and it is easy to become maudlin. Perhaps the most colourful pet I had was Alan - he was the one chick that became more than just a chicken. He was the strutting cockerel who would direct the hens to food. That made him popular with the girls. One day, I saw him facing off a fox, standing between it and his hens. Sadly, he was killed by the fox a few months later, right in front of my eyes on . . . my birthday! I was very sad.