Down Nature's Paths

 

A Man and His 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.

When Freedom came in she could not stand  and both wings were broken. 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 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.

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.