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A Man and an Eagle

Not many people get a picture of this proud bird snuggled up next to them.

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.

When Freedom came in 10 years ago 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 on Friday, and I was supposed to come in on 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 [that] 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.
Hope you enjoy this.


I was recently moved to write the following recommendation on LinkedIn for Elaine Garley, of Animal Bridges. She does animal communication, animal healing touch, TTouch therapy and works with Bach Flower Remedies. The following chronicles the progress she’s helped us make with our newest adoptee, Oliver I wanted those of you who aren’t on LinkedIn to hear of her services, too.—Sid
Details of the Recommendation: “Elaine Garley, a colleague of mine in the Pet PAC—a local group of pet-related-business owners—kindly came to help our newly adopted West Highland white terrier, Oliver, age 6, overcome his fear/aggression toward our two cats and become comfortably assimilated into a household with three other Westies. He suffered from tremendous insecurity from being shuffled from home to home, which would result in his frantically barking and lunging at our two cats and in response to almost any new noise. She treated him with Tellington TTouch, a body wrap, and Bach Flower Essence Remedy specially blended to address his pertinent issues and anxieties.

(I was familiar with these therapies, but I really appreciated that Elaine patiently demonstrated and taught me to do the techniques myself as a means to be sure Oliver could receive immediate therapy whenever he needed it. Other practitioners might have preferred no one but they be able to perform the techniques.)

As her treatment of him progressed, Oliver went from having his ears straight up and squeezed tight atop his head (i.e. on full alert), nervously growling, avoiding us with his tail tucked between his legs, and with his eyes looking a bit wild to having a much more relaxed posture, allowing her to perform all manner of manipulations on him (including massaging his back gums inside his mouth and rotating his tail, where dogs are known to carry fear!), and being ready to drop off to sleep.

I was able to email Elaine the next day that a minor miracle had occurred. Instead of incessantly attacking, barking at and/or chasing our cats, Oliver was now calming lying two feet away from them on our bed! He even left the room and returned on his own to the bed where one of the cats was napping. He is now mostly curious toward and/or neutral toward them without the sudden rages. His aggression toward them has dropped by at least 90%! If he is startled by one of them running in the dark of night, he still may bark and run at them briefly out of fear, but on the whole, he’s made amazing progress and is much, much calmer and happier already. It’s only been a few days, and we’re amazed by the changes in him. Our cats are mighty appreciative, too!

Thank you, Elaine, for helping us make our precious Oliver feel fully at home and happy!”
Service Category: TTouch provider/Animal healing touch
Year first hired: 2010

Clockwise from front left: Oliver, Blanche, Keely and Ambrose.

I will be speaking at the upcoming Spirit Spectacular Spring Event at the Crowne Plaza—Minneapolis North 2200 Freeway Blvd. Brooklyn Center, MN 55430
on Saturday, March 27 from 3:15–4:45 p.m. on the topic of Pet Loss—Receiving the Gifts Only Grieving Can Give. Click here to purchase tickets to this special event. Discussion and book signing will follow the talk. Click here to buy tickets for PET LOSS-Receiving the Gifts that Only Grieving Can Give Event.  Auction items available at the Spirit Spectacular Shows website.

Please join me and host Maureen Harmonay for an interactive teleconference through her Animal Communication Book Club on MY BIRTHDAY!! January 27, 2010, 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. Central. We love to chat with you. Here’s the posting from her site with instructions on how to join in the fun:

The next “Conversations with Animal Authors” teleconference will feature Sid Korpi, who will discuss her recent book, Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss, during a free hour-long event on Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 at 8:00pm (EST).
Sid Korpi is a Minneapolis-based writer, editor, actor and ordained minister who loves animals and understands the pain that ensues after the death of a beloved animal companion. After experiencing the loss of her cherished Westie, Ludwig, Sid decided to channel her grief into the creation of a fact-filled resource that would gently help others cope with their own losses. The result was her comprehensive collection of stories, personal accounts, and professional advice: Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss.
What’s so wonderful about Sid’s book is that she not only understands the searing emotional pangs of the often-lonely grieving process, but she also offers both consolation and coping techniques that can illuminate the tear-stained path to quiet acceptance and to an openness to love again.
If you’d like to have an opportunity to talk with Sid Korpi about what you felt and experienced after your own pet’s death, you can join the call by dialing 712-432-0180 and entering PIN #1063739 at 8:00pm (EST) on Wednesday, January 27th. Long-distance charges may apply. If you’re unable to participate live, a recording of the interview will be posted here within a few days after the event.

You know it’s true. We animal lovers get a raw deal when it comes to mourning the death of our pets. Case in point, a woman who’d lost a companion animal emailed me this: “I feel so guilty for grieving over the loss of my pets over the years…maybe your book will help me to let go of that guilt, as so many people will say, ‘God, it’s only a dog’!!!!”

I wish it were as easily accomplished as my saying to her, “As a bona fide animal chaplain, I absolve you of your guilt here and now!” Say, I wonder how I’d look in a pet-hair-covered leotard and cape?

Seriously though, her feelings are not uncommon. In researching my book, Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss, I repeatedly heard that people had an easier time getting past the death of a human relative than they did the loss of their pets. This comes as no surprise since our society gives us “permission” to grieve a person’s death. They offer us compassion and patience as we process the feelings of loss.

Surely they would extend that same support to us for our grief over the death of the companions who were by our side 24/7 and who loved us without conditions or complications, right? Nope. Flying in the face of all logic, most people expect us to shrug off that kind of loss; they even perceive us as defective for feeling lingering sorrow or pain. This is absolutely ludicrous! The amount of grief we feel is commensurate with the amount of love we shared with our animal family members. Such feelings are normal and appropriate. However, we mustn’t unconsciously vow to be “stuck” in a negative emotion forever.

Risking loving again is precisely what will heal our hearts, as long as we don’t rush into adopting another pet too soon. We must still work through the worst of our grief beforehand, as denying or burying those feelings can produce disastrous effects in our health and relationships—even those with future pets.

For folks who feel trapped in their grief, try this visualization technique: Imagine your deceased pet’s spirit is working on the Other Side to bring you another pet, one paw picked just for you, to arrive when your heart is ready to receive him or her. This allows you to be open to moving on without fear that you might be betraying his memory. Instead, you’ll be honoring your departed pet by entrusting him to help you choose wisely, to give you a sense of certainty when the right new critter comes along.

Dearest Blog,

I just awoke from a bizarre, yet comforting dream this morning. I say this because many of the images would normally be perceived as distressing to say the least, but thanks to my family history of specific-to-us dream interpretation and my own tendency to dream in puns, I awoke grateful of having received this reassuring dream from Mortimer, my West Highland white terrier who died just a little over a week ago, and my mother, who died in 1998.

Here’s the whole dream:
Mortimer and four other Westies were flying in (with Mortimer apparently piloting) a small prop plane when they lost power and had to make an emergency landing. Miraculously, however, the plane’s landing was fairly smooth and out of it crawled all five white dogs, with bright red blood trickling through their fur from various minor injuries. Then actress Penny Marshall (of “Laverne and Shirley” fame) entered the area and stood, wearing a pale blue pantsuit and matching tam and looking as if she were in her late 70s, and smiling benevolently toward the dogs and me as the passive observer.

What I took from this was that Mortimer was sending me a message from his trip to Heaven (as symbolized by his flying a plane among the clouds). His traveling companions could have been my two other departed Westies, Ludwig and Tuppence, as well as my current babies, Blanche and Keely; I didn’t get a close enough look, but I knew Mortimer was the biggest one there and there were four additional Westies. I think his message was that he was all right, he’d survived the “trip” to the Other Side, and either the living and the dead make their journeys together and don’t even realize how close they are to one another or he’s traveling with all the beloved companion animals who’ve passed away, as represented by the many other dogs. Their landing on Earth indicated he could still connect with us on this “earthly plane” even though he’s on another plane of existence. (There’s pun number one.)

The blood, rather than upsetting me, reassured me, as well. In my family’s dream symbology, many things represent other things, often their opposites, giving us a common shorthand for figuring out the meaning of some dreams. For instance, if we dream of death, it means marriage; if we dream of a wedding, it means death. Both tears and blood mean good fortune and happiness. Snakes indicate illness; mud is bad luck, etc. Some other blog I may regale you with tales of my dreams and the uncanny accuracy of these symbols, which have been passed along from generation to generation among those on my mother’s side and are deeply entrenched in our unconscious minds.

Last, the appearance of Penny Marshall, who seemed to be about my mother’s age when she passed away, was the nod to my mother’s message of “pennies from Heaven.” (Pun number two.) Her peaceful, kind visage let me know she was near my precious pets and me as well.

Hence, I awoke with a smile on my face, grateful of the creative ways my loved ones continue to communicate with me.

Devil’s Advocacy Note: And even if you argue this was all generated from within my own brain and has nothing whatever to do with a visitation from the Other Side, I say that it means my subconscious has developed a wonderful way to soothe my mourning heart and bring me peace of mind, as it were, regarding these losses. Either way, the result is I get to move forward a few more baby steps in my grieving process, which is the ultimate goal.

Blessed be,

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