April 13, 2018 05:05 PM

When you hear chicken of the sea, you might think of tuna or Jessica Simpson. Sammi is here to redefine the term.

The beautiful bird has become a sensation as people all over the world discover her social media empire, which includes Instagram, Youtube and Facebook pages. Here, fans don’t find the usual farm animal shots, instead there are photos of Sammi traveling the country with her devoted owner Dave Cox.

Among shots of Sammi roosting in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Biloxi, Mississippi, are plenty of moments of the chicken enjoying a seaside stroll. A Destin, Florida, native, Sammi adores visiting the beach and dipping her clawed toes into the surf.

It is these moments, ones of the 1-year-old bird enjoying the oceanside, that have garnered the most attention. To learn more about Sammi and how she became a true chicken of the sea PEOPLE talked to her owner over email.

sammichicken/Instagram

How did Sammi come into you life? 

I had a blue heeler dog named Cort, that died last year at 17 years old. I am not ready to get another dog, so I decided to go a different route.

What is is like to have a pet chicken? 

Quite different than your usual domesticated animal. A chicken is customarily an agricultural livestock animal, living in a production type setting. As someone with an agriculture background, I understand the nature of farm animals and has possibly helped with my bonding with Sammi.

Simply put, it take a lot of patience. Take for example introducing a collar and leash to a dog vs. a chicken: A dog may struggle to understand the leash, but quickly catches on the concept of coming closer to its handler to release the tension. A chicken will resist the harness going on in the first place. Once on, a chicken does not move toward you as the leash is made taut. It will plat its feet, like a horse, and stand its ground.

A chicken is almost strictly motivated by food. Affection and praise are not that high of priorities. When we are at home, without all the other distractions, Sammi is much more affectionate and longs to be close to me wherever I go. We often sit in a rocking chair in the evenings, and she loves to be scratched and massaged while on my lap.

Why did you decide to start traveling with her? 

A chicken is a very vulnerable, defenseless animal of prey. I do not have the luxury of leaving her at home and trust that she will not be preyed upon. I was a necessity to ensure her safety. A while back, I recognized that I have lived in the Southeast United States for nearly three years and haven’t explored what makes it special. I decide to take a road trip to a different place every weekend. As rime passed, Sammi and I created a very strong bond. I don’t think I would enjoy my road trips without her.

How does she get from place to place? 

Sammi riders shotgun in my pickup. However, on the way to work in the morning and on our way home, Sammi prefers to sit in my lap. If we need to make a stop, she usually goes in with me. Unless I go into a food establishment or grocery store, I don’t believe that a pet like Sammi shoudl be where food is served. She is not a service animal and therefore does not belong in place like that.

What are her favorite things to do on vacation? 

She enjoys joining me at the beach and swimming with me in the ocean. Outside of that, I truly believe that she enjoys meeting new people. She is extremely calm and patient as people take pictures with her.

What is her favorite place that she has visited so far? 

I would imagine it would be St. Augustine. Knowing her as I do, she really enjoys being in my arms and carried throughout the day. Walking the streets of historic St. Augustine, it is a perfect setting for enjoying that experience and meeting new people.

However, the beaches of in home in the Destin area, the water is so very clear that she feels very safe out in the water with me. The sugar white sand is such pure perfection that she truly enjoys feeling it between her toes.

What other trips does Sammi have planned?

With Sammi’s increasing fame, we have been invited to many, many places. Some are not possible for a weekend road trip, like San Antonio, Texas, or Pennsylvania. But other invitations seem very feasible; Cedar Keys, FL, Indiatlantic, FL, St Simon’s Island, GA and Savannah, GA. We don’t really know where we will be going until we are on the road.

What advice do you have for those thinking of getting a pet chicken? 

Don’t try to make your chicken act like and respond to you like a dog or cat. Accept that accidents will happen in the house. House training takes longer to accomplish. Make sure you have plenty of patience. Be their protector. She will trust you more and more quickly if she can find you as her refuge.

What reactions do you get when you are out with Sammi? 

Shock: “That guy is carrying a chicken!” or “Can your chicken actually swim?!”

Laughs: Both Sammi and I have learned that the laughs are due to the surprise that a man would be carrying or swimming with a pet chicken.

Most everyone thinks that she is a rooster, which is very understandable given the fact that almost everyone we meet have never seen or touched a chicken this close before.

Do you keep her on a leash when out in public? 

Yes. Not that I am concerned that she will run away, because I know that she will not. Rather, I keep her on a leash so that when on the ground and surrounded by a lot of people, it allows me to keep her safely close to me.

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How would you describe Sammi’s personality?

She is so sweet! Though I will never get a sweet puppy eye stare or a smile as a dog might give, I can see in the way we interact and the way she looks at me that she is communicating the same thing. She is independent like a cat, when she wants to be and affectionate like a dog at other times.

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