The following is a sample story from Paws & Claws,
a quarterly newsletter written and published by Paws & Claws.

By Gina Palmer

Have you ever been to the vet and had him/her tell you, "I am so very sorry, but there is nothing more we can do"?

The following story is true, and is my personal experience.

My male white dove companion “Spirit” had been asking for months if I would locate a mate for him. He explained that it was time he became a companion to another, preferably another female white dove. He expressed a desire to share and be in companionship with his own species. He added that he just “felt” it was time. I agreed and vowed that I would make finding him a mate a top priority.

The feed store down the road was a likely a place to begin my search, since that is where I had located Spirit a few years ago. It was a hot and muggy day this past summer that I found myself at the feed store dove enclosure. A young teen age boy was helping me. The dove enclosure was brimming with at least twenty white and ring-neck doves, a few banty chickens scratching at the ground, and one wild bird. I stepped into the first door of the double door enclosure and immediately noticed a small fragile-looking ring-neck dove lying at the rim of the watering container setting on the ground. The water in the container was a putrid looking green slime. The chickens scratching nearby had tossed feces and dirt into the water source, and the ninety-eight plus degree temperatures had turned the only precious watering source into poison. The fragile ring-neck lying near it was gasping and convulsing. I heard her say, “Help me, I'm dying.” Placing my hand over her without touching her I closed my eyes and opened my heart. I prayed, “Let St. Francis be with you . . . go now in peace.” The words were barely out of my mouth, and I felt/saw the ring-neck jump out of her body, leaving her limp feathered form. The young boy helping me looked on in embarrassment, nervously wringing his hands together, not knowing what to say to me. I picked up the lifeless ring-neck's form. Handing it to the boy, I asked him to bury her properly.

Gazing around the enclosure, eyeing each of the doves, I asked, “Who of you would like to be mate to Spirit?” I heard a tiny voice speak from the location on the ground just opposite of where the ring-neck had just died. The voice spoke, “I am mate to Spirit, and I am ready to go.” The voice came from a small white dove. I picked her up and thanked her for keeping the dying ring-neck company and helping her in the transition. I felt sure that she must be companion to Spirit because he has done so much work with me in assisting clients in their challenges of pain, grief, and death transitions. I told the white dove that Spirit was known as a healer. To my surprise she responded by saying, “Yes, I know.” During the short drive home, I asked the dove if she had a name. She spoke very softly, “Yes, I am Sara.”

Sara’s Crisis

It is our practice here at the sanctuary to observe animals new to the facility separately, before introducing them to the rest of the animal family. It is both a health precaution and a considerate gesture to the newcomers, so as not to overwhelm them in their new environment. I observed and got to know Sara for a few days, and she just didn't seem to be feeling well. She was uncoordinated, unable to fly. I could see her breast bone protruding at her chest under her feathers. There was almost no fat layer over her bones. She ate nothing, and drank very little water in those first few days. On the second day, I had been away from home on other business and suddenly got a message, “Sara is not well. Call an avian vet and go home immediately.” I called the vet and set an emergency appointment from the location I was at and hurried home to get Sara. I have learned from past experience to act swiftly whenever a telepathic message comes through, no matter what else I may be doing. The message becomes the priority. It comes through as a very strong feeling, and sometimes is accompanied by a visual flash of the being's face and environment.

Driving to the vet, I asked Sara to guide me regarding what I should ask the vet to do. She told me that she had been exposed to the putrid water that had killed the ring-neck, and that she was infested with several different parasites. She also indicated that she had either or both respiratory and heart challenges. My heart center tightened as I felt fear for Sara's well being welling up inside of me.

Based upon Sara's guidance, I suggested to the vet that she run fecal sample tests and listen to her heart and lungs. Eyeing me with scrutiny the vet asked me on what basis did I determine the course for examination. I replied simply by telling her that it “felt right” to run a fecal sample, based upon the fact that Sara was skinny, not eating, and exhibited vertigo. The vet again eyed me with even deeper scrutiny and asked me, “Can you explain to me your basis for ‘feels right’?” At this point I realized the vet was utterly puzzled by my communication of the situation, and I told her, “No, I cannot explain ‘feels right’ to you right now. Please just run the fecal tests, I don't feel we have much time to discuss all of this.” Sara was very weak. The fecal tests were sent to the lab for results. The vet examined Sara with her stethoscope, sighed, and left the room without a word to me. Sara and I sat and waited.

Twenty minutes later, the female vet returned to the windowless room where we had been waiting. The lab results confirmed that indeed Sara had several parasites, most seriously a “coccidia,” which is a particularly vicious invasion. The vet softened her manner and cast her eyes to the ground as she spoke. “I am very sorry, but Sara is not likely to survive this day. In addition to the parasite infestation, she has a very serious heart murmur. In this condition, the heart valves cannot pump enough blood to her organs to sustain her, and she has virtually no ability to warm her body.” The vet looked deeply into my eyes and spoke with tears in her eyes. “I am so very sorry, but there is nothing more we can do for her.” In that moment I felt eyes meeting eyes in such a way that instantly opens hearts. I felt her sincere regret, and her helplessness as she spoke. Our eyes locked with compassion, and I realized her despair. It seemed that as her mind raced with her training in limitation and traditional medicine, she was struggling in this moment as a fellow living being, feeling that she had somehow let Sara and I both down. I heard her tell herself, “Why isn't there something I can do?”

Speaking the vet's name aloud and looking her directly in her eyes, I answered the question she had secretly asked herself. I declared, “There is something we can do! We can ask Sara what she wants. We can love her. We can honor her spirit. Her spirit is a live and vital force. Sara is more than her physical body. She is also spirit, and we can align with her in that vitality. I don't mean spirit in a religious sense, I mean spirit in the vital sense.” The vet relaxed the tense lines in her face as I spoke. I could literally see her humanity releasing the hold her intellect had on her beliefs, and she smiled softly. Nodding her agreement, the vet affirmed the truth that sets us all free, and she spoke. “Yes indeed, we CAN LOVE HER. . . .” The vet wrote a prescription for parasites, and Sara and I left.

During the drive home, Sara sat on her perch inside the cage on the passenger seat beside me. I told Sara how long our male dove, Spirit, had waited for a mate. I told her all of the reasons Spirit had told me why he wanted a mate. I reminded Sara that she herself had declared at the feed store that she was the mate to Spirit, and that she had acknowledged Spirit's purpose as a healer. I reminded her of all the things in life that she was entitled to as a bird, the potential for joy in companionship to Spirit, and the miracle that her continued life could mean to me. I spoke a monologue of reasons for life out loud to Sara, opening my heart center for listening. I asked her, “What do you choose? Whatever you choose, I will support you. I am not attached to whether you choose life or death. Just tell me what you choose so that I will know how to support you.”

Sara’s Choice

I sat in silence with my eyes closed, listening for Sara's response. In moments like those, time seems to stand still, and I have no idea how much time had passed until Sara replied, “I choose life be being willing to release past wounding in my heart. I further choose life by being willing to release the parasites.” I felt the depth of her commitment inside of my heart as an overwhelming release of the fear that was gripping me. When she finished speaking, I told Sara of my intentions to support her choice.

“I will love you unconditionally as I trust and respect your decisions explicitly. I will provide a heating pad for you to sleep on and to be near until you are able to provide your own body heat. I will feed you the most nutritious foods that I can provide. I will surround you with whale and dolphin recorded frequencies 24 hours a day. I will sing my joy of your life whenever I look upon your form. I will provide the healing energies of clear and rose quartz crystals. I will provide flower essences of ‘Recovery’ and ‘Return to Joy’ and ‘Rescue Remedy.’ I will provide you with fresh, clean water infused with colloidal silver. I will provide herbs of echinacea and goldenseal, as well as the medication the vet has prescribed. I can provide you with the healing qualities of the positive energy plate, sunlight whenever it is available, and daily contact with the earth. When you become strong enough, you can walk on the earth and feel her healing infusion of support. My guides tell me to expose you to the healing frequencies of the color of violet at night while you rest in the darkness. I will listen for your guidance as to when to withdraw any or all of the remedies. I am committed to your full recovery. I see you as being healthy, whole, and complete just the way you are.”

Spirit and SaraSpirit & Sara

Sara asked, “Will I be able to be in the company of Spirit during the process?” I asked Spirit if he would consent to spending time with Sara during her recovery, and he immediately spoke. “Bring me to her now, I have waited so long to be near her.” I was reluctant to place Spirit in the same cage with Sara since there was also the possibility that she could have other viral or bacterial complications. I explained all of that to Spirit. He responded by simply saying, “Love and trust are the only quotients that apply.” Placing Spirit and Sara together, I watched as he tenderly began to groom her, nuzzling her gently with his beak, about her neck and shoulders. It was as if they had known one another forever. Each time he stepped near her, I felt her being washed and cleansed. It seemed as though she was giving herself over to him so completely, and without any resistance. These rituals occurred each time I would place Sara and Spirit together for their ten-to-fifteen-minute sessions, when Sara wasn't setting on her heating pad during the first few weeks of her recovery. She was so weak, it was difficult for her to stand on a perch for more than ten or fifteen minutes. She was also completely unable to fly. Whenever I placed Sara on the earth in the sunlight, she would sit very still on the ground, eyes closed, and absorb the healing energies, similar to how she would when she was with Spirit.

In those first several weeks, Sara appeared to have some better days than others. It was as if she would take one step forward toward health, and three steps backward. During that time, I could only pray, trust, and watch her struggle. It felt both liberating and agonizing to witness the process unfolding, never knowing for sure what each day would bring. It was apparent, though, that all there really was, was each precious moment, and Sara was fully living in that “eternal now” moment. In order to support her, I too was forced into that same moment.

Sara remained living with us for another two years. She lived with gentleness, vitality, and independence.

On October 12, 2000, while making my morning rounds rotating the birds to the outdoors, I found Sara dead on the bottom of her cage. Her feet were wrapped as if still standing on her perch, and one wing was outstretched as if anticipating flight. She had not been obviously ill, and had given me no indication prior that she would be transitioning.

Upon finding her lifeless form, I fell into shock and grief. She had died of a heart attack while she slept.

Each animal has a cycle of power and a season with which they resonate. For dove, the cycles of power are dawn and dusk. I buried Sara's form at dusk that day under Lady Grace, our eighty-year-old eucalyptus tree, which faces west at the front of our property, viewing the ocean. I lay Sara to rest under some flowers which I planted at the surface and an everblooming gardenia bush next to her. I consoled myself that when the gardenia buds bloomed, I would once again smell the sweet fragrance of my white dove teacher I had known as Sara, mate to Spirit.

As the fireball of sunlight dipped at the horizon over the ocean, I prayed to Lady Grace, "Please send me a message from Sara. I pray for insight and comfort in my loss." Eyes closed, and with a heavy heart, I sat there next to her grave and played my Native American flute into the night, recalling the sweetness Sara had brought into my life.

I awoke before sunrise the next day, tears welling in my eyes as they opened to greet the new day. I lay in bed feeling the heaviness in my heart that grief delivers. I was amazed that the sun would indeed rise, when all I felt was dark, empty despair. I tried to imagine a difference between grief and shock and could not find any. Hearing the chickens calling for their morning meal, I rose out of bed and walked like a zombie into the garage where their feed was stored.

Half asleep and dazed from a restless night, I gathered portions of chicken mash and scratch from the containers in the garage. As I scooped I heard, "Lift the garage doors and look to Sara's grave." I resisted because I did not want to look at her grave and face the truth of my loss, marked by the presence of disturbed dirt, newly planted flowers, the seashell filled with the cornmeal offering I had left there the night before. Regardless, I gathered my courage and lifted the garage door, and looked in the direction of Sara's grave, steeling myself from the sadness I would surely feel.

As I looked, I found, standing directly on top of Sara's grave, a live peacock looking directly at me. A brilliant form of multi colors and what seemed like a thousand eyes stood silhouetted in the predawn distance. I blinked and took a second look, not believing my eyes! The three-foot-tall by three-and-one-half-foot long peacock looked intently into my eyes and spoke, "Deliverance," then strolled casually East at the very moment the sun peeked over the mountain and the light of the new day met me with joy filling my heart. Quite unexpectedly, my prayer had been answered. A messenger had been sent, and the message purified my heart in an instant! Peacock is the Western world's equivalent of the Egyptian bird, the Phoenix, which rises up out of the fire and ashes. In that moment, all my grief, despair, and shock flowed out of me and was carried away for purification under the footsteps of the strolling peacock, cleansing my memories and renewing my spirit. Sara proceeds on her eternal sojourn, and I am forever changed by the love, devotion, and friendship I have known through my journey with her, and the blessings she has shared.

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