Liesl McQuillan cuddles her pet turkey while ensuring Ollie the goat gets equal affection. Photography by Carly May.
IT’S A BRISK winter’s day. A woman wearing bright yellow galoshes — her hair sticking out every which way — is desperately trying to cajole her pet turkey off a neighbor’s roof when her neighbor alerts her, “Hey, is that your goat? He got out.”
A scene from an old episode of I Love Lucy? More like I Love Liesl, as in Liesl McQuillan, a Junius Heights neighbor and animal lover extraordinaire.
How she came to add a pet turkey and goat to her menagerie of six chickens, three cats, one bunny and a cockatiel are stories in and of themselves. Suffice to say that Miss Fussy Britches — for that is the turkey’s name — should buy a lottery ticket or head to a casino. She is hands down the luckiest turkey on the planet, having been rescued, ironically, on Thanksgiving Eve and now enjoying a cushy and loving life with McQuillan.
The blue slate turkey was spotted aimlessly wandering about a parking lot in a Plano industrial area. A friend texted McQuillan, who rushed out within minutes. When a search for its owner turned up nothing, McQuillan brought her home to East Dallas.
“The moment I saw her, I knew she was my girl. I fell in love with her immediately,” McQuillan says.
Miss Fussy Britches was in perfect condition, very healthy, but there was talk of Rogers Wildlife Rehab Center taking her in.
“But I loved her too much to let her go,” she says.
It worked out. Although she’s not exactly trained, the turkey makes up for it in the affection department.
“If I put her on my chest, she’ll lay her head on my shoulder and go to sleep,” McQuillan says. “Miss Fussy Britches is very cuddly. She will sit down in front of you as you are walking, demanding to be picked up. She is the sweetest animal.”
But like any pet, she has her moments.
“She is also spoiled and will bark all day until she gets her way,” McQuillan says. “Her way usually involves my going out and spending time with her.”
She’s also an escape artist. Miss Fussy Britches had hopped a couple of fences, found a high perch and proceeded to “bark” at her person to rescue her.
McQuillan spotted her on a neighbor’s carport roof. The neighbor kindly brought out a tall ladder, allowing easier access to the wayward turkey. But unbeknownst to her, McQuillan had left her gate open. The helpful neighbor noticed a goat wandering the alley, and, of course, it belonged to McQuillan. While she rounded up her goat, the neighbor retrieved the turkey.
About that goat. His name is Ollie, a nod to Oliver Hardy. He, too, is a rescue. Another family had him for a while but could no longer keep him, so McQuillan stepped in.
“I ran out to their house after work one night and put him in my Prius and brought him home. I have always wanted a goat to frolic with, though, I must admit that frolicking is hard when your goat continually tries to eat your hair,” she says.
Is Ollie trained? “Not at all,” McQuillan says. But, like Miss Fussy Britches, he makes up for it with his personality.
“Ollie is a people goat,” McQuillan says. “He wants nothing more than to be with me. He hangs out by the backdoor all day, looking at me dolefully.”
McQuillan’s unusual pets receive a lot of attention and interest, and many folks express a desire to meet them.
The occasional wild chases down alleys and high-ladder rescues off roofs notwithstanding, our neighborhood animal lover insists her menagerie offers her peace.
McQuillan spends her days in prisons and parole offices, working as a therapist with sex offenders.
“Then, I get to come home to the goof- ball animals and be loved unconditionally, for no good reason,” McQuillan says. “I know it all sounds a little wild, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.”