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 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
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 soulmates ever since she came in. This is a very
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 course 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.
Guidry and Freedom are at Sarvey Wildlife Center:
You can order Jeff's book,
An Eagle named Freedom: My True Story of a Remarkable Friendship,
by Jeff Guidry,
which is due to be released in Hardcover on May 4, 2010, for $14.95.
Here is the link for ordering: