Monday, May 26, 2008

Spirit speaks through the love between a man and a bald eagle


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.

--Jeff


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 vet's 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 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 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.



--Jeff

11 comments:

buddha_girl said...

Holy crap.

Beautiful.

Mama Kelly said...

What a powerful and moving story. Thank you for sharing it!! Hope youre doing well!

Blessings
Mama Kelly

yellowdog granny said...

well, that broke my heart..can you go to him and let freedom hug you?...where is he, is he far from you?..we'll raise the money for you to go to freedom...does that sound weird?...you can come to west for westfest..and i'll hug you..i have some pretty powerful hugs too...
inky's brothers wife has always called me mama eagle..after i rescued her one night..how are you?...

Rainwolf said...

Love that story.

texlahoma said...

That was very good, thanks. I'll have to send that one to my mom.

billy pilgrim said...

that's inspirational and i can use the inspiration i can find these days.

i think most birds and animals have the same spirit as freedom, we just don't have the time or opportunity to form a bond with them.

kath said...

achingly beautiful story and picture...

thank you so much.

Allan said...

Engulfed by eagle wings...that's awesome- unless you are a field mouse!

I am suddenly angry with Benjamin Franklin for his disparaging words regarding the Bald Eagle.

tsduff said...

I've worked with an eagle in our Lindsay Wildlife hospital who also had a shattered wing. But I've never seen a picture, nor heard such a story as the one you told. That is awesome in so many ways. Hope you are doing okay - getting ready for your surgery next week. xo

sageweb said...

What a wonderful story..I have tears in my eyes. Thank-you for sharing it.

Juanuchis said...

I'm moved and speechless. Thanks.