Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Healing Power of Animals: Meet Jeff and Freedom

This morning I received an email from my dear friend, Sheila. I never know what I am going to blog about each day, but I always seem to receive something that strikes my eye and touches my heart. This story is really powerful. Not only does it demonstrate the will to live and thrive in wildlife, but how these miracles can touch the humans who are involved in their rescue.

I hope it moves you the way it did me.

Freedom and Jeff

"Freedom and I have been together 10 years this summer. She came in as a baby in 1998 with two broken wings. Her left wing doesn't open all the way even after surgery, it was broken in 4 places. She's my baby.

"When Freedom came in she could not stand. Both wings were broken, her left wing in 4 places. She was emaciated and covered in lice. We made the decision to give her a chance at life, so I took her to the vets office.  From then on, I was always around her. We had her in a huge dog carrier with the top off, and it was loaded up with shredded newspaper for her to lay in. I used to sit and talk to her, urging her to live, to fight; and she would lay there looking at me with those big brown eyes. We also had to tube feed her for weeks.

"This went on for 4-6 weeks, and by then she still couldn't stand. It got to the point where the decision was made to euthanize her if she couldn't stand in a week. You know you don't want to cross that line between torture and rehab, and it looked like death was winning. She was going to be put down that Friday, and I was supposed to come in on that Thursday afternoon. I didn't want to go to the center that Thursday, because I couldn't bear the thought of her being euthanized; but I went anyway, and when I walked in everyone was grinning from ear to ear. I went immediately back to her owl cage; and there she was, standing on her own, a big beautiful eagle. She was ready to live. I was just about in tears by then. That was a very good day.

"We knew she could never fly, so the director asked me to glove train her. I got her used to the glove,and then to jesses, and we started doing education programs for schools in western Washington. We wound up in the newspapers, radio (believe it or not) and some TV. Miracle Pets even did a show about us.

"In the spring of 2000, I was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma. I had stage 3, which is not good (one major organ plus everywhere), so I wound up doing 8 months of chemo. Lost the hair -the whole bit. I missed a lot of work. When I felt good enough, I would go to Sarvey Wildlife and take Freedom out for walks. Freedom would also come to me in my dreams and help me fight the cancer. This happened time and time again.

"Fast forward to November 2000, the day after Thanksgiving, I went in for my last checkup. I was told that if the cancer was not all gone after 8 rounds of chemo, then my last option was a stem cell transplant. Anyway, they did the tests; and I had to come back Monday for the results. I went in Monday, and I was told that all the cancer was gone. Yahoo!

"So the first thing I did was get up to Sarvey and take the big girl out for a walk. It was misty and cold. I went to her flight and jessed her up, and we went out front to the top of the hill. I hadn't said a word to Freedom, but somehow she knew. She looked at me and wrapped both her wings around me to where I could feel them pressing in on my back (I was engulfed in eagle wings), and she touched my nose with her beak and stared into my eyes, and we just stood there like that for I don't know how long. That was a magic moment. We have been soul mates ever since she came in. This is a very special bird.


"On a side note: I have had people who were sick come up to us when we are out, and Freedom has some kind of hold on them. I once had a guy who was terminal come up to us and I let him hold her. His knees just about buckled and he swore he could feel her power coarse through his body. I have so many stories like that.

"I never forget the honor I have of being so close to such a magnificent spirit as Freedom's.

Hope you enjoy this.

There is such a strong connection between animals and humans, as we can clearly see from this story. The healing power of love can't be denied.

Do you have any stories about how animals have inspired you or have touched you deeply in your own personal healing? Please leave a comment and let us know.



donna9331 said...

This reminded me of the story my daughter told me this week about Gretty (inside cat) getting outside. There were storms in the area, and although they searched and searched, they couldn't find him. They went to bed, and about 2:30, a totally soaked Gretty showed up at home...they let him in, he jumped into the bed and rolled over and over...they grabbed him quick to dry him off...fussed over him a big bunch, then headed back to bed. Gretty LOVES Diane and she said Gretty got on her tummy, all sprawled out, lay each paw on one shoulder, dug his little 'softclaws' into her jammies and pulled. She said it felt like Gretty was hugging her...the position of the cat and the arms around her neck. She says she'll never forget her one 'official' cat hug. (And we don't think Gretty's going to be headed for the door any time soon.)

donna9331 said...

Also, I was on vacation this week, and being prone to depression and the like I can't count the times I was sitting in my recliner and had THREE cats on my lap. One on my outstretched legs, one on my lap, and one on my chest. Usually, it was Pirate, Chester (or Wheezel) and Mouse. Mouse was like "grey velcro" every time I sat down. I wonder how he'll react to my going back to work tomorrow?

They always seems to know when I'm having a bad day. Pirate will curl up right next to my pillow and purr me to sleep. Chester will get under the covers and 'knead' on me to tell me he loves me. Mouse will lick my nose. Wheezel will whine until I pick her up. Flakes to too flakey to be very demonstrative, but he'll come up and meow at me or allow me to brush him. MissyToe is usually pretty grumpy, and a loner so she lets the others comfort me. I guess she figures they have it well under control!

Anonymous said...

I have my dog Cindy and while she is really good company and tries to cheer me up when I'm down, there is still something missing. It wasn't till I found a family with 3 Greyhounds that I realized just how much I had missed them. You see, I had been helping out at a kennel till four years ago when I broke my arm and of course then I wasn't any use so I was let go. That was the worst day as I couldn't bring any of the Greyhounds home with me. Cindy didn't arrive till after I'd left the Greyhounds. Now, I can see these wonderful dogs whenever I wamt, I've even been made an official "adopted" mom by their family. I was over to see them yesterday, got to take one of them out on a leashm even though I'd been warned he would probably pull me all over the yard but he seemed to know I had a problem with my back and couldn't walk right so he stayed right beside me on a loose leash the whole time we were out. That act of kindness, even though it was shown by a truly wonderful Greyhound, did wonders for me. His parents were just amazed at how well behaved he was with me too. I can't wait to go back tomorrow. His name is "Tigger" and we bonded almost immediately. He also gives me the famous Greyhound smile whenever I come over which I haven't seen in a long time. Thank you for letting me share this story.

avesbirder said...

mvsWe have been passing it around in the Birding Community. ( We have found it very touching that this predator can be a gentle giant.

Anonymous said...

I was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer. I had the kidney removed and spent 7 days in the hospital. Once I was home the healing process began. Being greeted one by one with all my critters ( 3 dogs & 6 cats) was one of the best days of my life. Each day one of the dogs would come to me and stay close enough that I could reach out to them several times a day. Of course the cats were able to get up on the bed and cuddle with me several times a day. Their healing power was amazing.It is now 5 months into healing and I think of how lucky I am to have all them with me daily. I am not 100% better yet but the progress is make so much easier with my critters. They do have special powers.

Rani said...

What a beautiful animal Freedom is and what a touching story. It reminds me of Gizmo...

My son's indoor/outdoor cat, Gizmo, disappeared one day and we were very worried. Four days later, at 6 am, we heard a scratching at the front door: Gizmo had been shot and dragged himself home on just his front paws. The vet said Gizzie had been shot with a CO-2 pellet gun, point-blank in the spine. The pellet couldn't be removed, so we nursed him back to health with antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and lots of love. He regained full use of one hind paw and gimpy/partial use of the other.

Now fast-forward about a 18 months. I have multiple sclerosis and my legs were failing me. It was devastating, I went from cane to walker to wheelchair. When something like that happens, it is so depressing and I was having a real pity party. Gizmo would come and jump up and sit against me, all purrs and understanding, like "Trust me, hon, I KNOW what you're going through." And he DID. When I had an especially bad day, Giz would be right there with me, purring and empathizing. Oftentimes, I felt like no one really understood what I was going through except for Gizzie.

About 2 years after his recuperation, the pellet shifted and began pressing against his spine and Gizmo began to go downhill. We took the best care we could, but his digestive system was shutting down and there wasn't much we could do. The day we were going to have him put down, my kids spent the morning cuddling him and taking pictures of him and explaining to him (and each other) what was forthcoming. He was obviously so relieved and knew it was his time.

Just as he comforted me and gave me all that love, I did the same for him. Just typing this story is bringing up the tears. What a wonderful love of a cat he was.

There is some interesting research about how the wavelength of cats' purring may have some healing benefit. It wouldn't surprise me at all.