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Fred the Oviedo Rooster, remembered

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In 2021, Emma Reichert moved her My Oviedo Store to a house on Smith Street and brought Fred, her pet rooster, with her. When her neighbor, Stephanie Fuhrey, first heard Fred crow, she turned to her husband surprised and said, “I think there’s a chicken or a rooster at our front door!” Fuhrey opened the door and sure enough, Fred was standing there.

Fuhrey went back inside to get some bread, but Fred hardly touched it. Fuhrey, determined to give him something to eat, did some research and the next day she was prepared with some cracked corn, which Fred seemed to enjoy more. She kept buying different snacks to feed Fred – watermelon, mixed nuts, etc. – and from then on, Fred and Fuhrey were good friends.

“He was a sweet soul, and that is what’s so hard,” Fuhrey said while speaking at his memorial on Sunday.

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Fred passed away on March 13 after being attacked by another animal. Fred had a popular online blog with 972 followers on Facebook and was cherished by many members of the Oviedo community. Reichert started to notice people coming into the My Oviedo Store looking for Fred.

“People were just as interested in him as I was,” she said.

Fred was dropped off in the parking lot in front of Reichert’s My Oviedo Store, along with two other roosters back in 2018. Reichert noticed that Fred would watch her through the windows, following her as she moved. After about a month, she went out on the curb and sat beside him. She then got food and hand fed him. Two months later she made the decision to pick him up. She said she’ll never forget that feeling of ‘Oh my God, I’m holding a chicken.’ She normally is terrified of chickens and had never met a nice one, she said.

From then on, Reichert would post updates on how their relationship was growing. There would be holiday posts, such as Fred sitting with Santa, as well as videos of him crowing.

“It is so quiet now. I don’t like it,” Reichert said.

She said he was sweet to all the kids he came in contact with and loved having his picture taken. Reichert said he was the perfect model. Fuhrey was even trying to teach him how to crow on command. Now she is trying to make an audio recording of Fred’s crow her ringtone. 

Reichert opened the memorial to anyone who wanted to tell their “Fred stories” and say their final goodbyes. Fred was placed in a tiny wooden casket, which they buried behind the My Oviedo Store. Reichert prepared little cups of bird seed for everyone to pour in with Fred.

Emma Reichert (left) held Fred the rooster and Shawn Galati (right) held his wood burned portrait of Fred in 2021. Reichert posted this on her Facebook account praising Galati’s work.

Several artists who had previously used Fred in their artwork attended the memorial. Shawn Galati first heard about Fred when he was kidnapped in Feb 2021 by a man who wanted to use him for cult practices, he said at the memorial. Reichert posted on her social media about Fred’s disappearance and with the community’s help, the Oviedo Police Department was able to return him to her. Video of Fred’s return went viral, receiving 13,000 views and made national headlines.

Later that year, Galati made a portrait of Fred for Reichert to hang in her store. Galati brought a round piece of wood to the memorial for everyone in attendance to sign. He left space at the very top to add Fred’s name.

“Fred was a one-of-a-kind soul. Only so many things get these souls,” Galati said.

Reichert’s long-time friend, Jamie Miller, was devastated after hearing the news of Fred’s death. She had grown up with chickens and roosters that were very mean, so she was hesitant when Reichert said she could just pick Fred up. Miller was surprised at how friendly he was.

“No chicken acts like Fred. It was almost like he was a human in a chicken’s body,” Miller said.

Reichert closed the memorial with a quote from Winnie the Pooh: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” People filled the piece of wood with messages like “Fly high in heaven, Fred’ and ‘We will miss you.’

“I want people to remember Fred as a friendly rooster, that he was just lovable and approachable and all things good,” Reichert said. 


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