Friday, November 12, 2010

The Importance of Friends

Jack meets new friend Smiley

We recently took in a horse named Blackjack, or Jack, as he prefers to be called. Jack is 35 yrs old and came to us when his person could no longer care for him. Jack has lived alone for the past 5 years since his other horse friend died. Jack has had quite a history and has always been very loved. But now he just needed a place to spend the rest of his days. He clearly has life left to live. He is very thin right now but we expect he can put on some weight with the new diet we have him on, specifically to meet his senior needs. The first night Jack was here, we could feel a sense of relief and peace from him. I asked him what he liked best about Spring Farm so far. He said, “I am enjoying listening to the horses breathing.”

It was such a profound statement. Such a simple thing, yet a pleasure he hadn’t known for a long time. Obviously being alone was the hardest thing for Jack. There are so many things we take for granted in our lives. Yet when they are missing, it can mean a world of difference to us.

Relationships are so important to our animal friends. They do not like to live alone. They do cherish their friends. And many times humans interfere with that process tremendously without even realizing or paying attention to their feelings and heart connections. This happens in the horse world a lot. As horses are moved from one barn to another, they lose contact with horse friends who are important to them. Frequently, we humans don’t even notice. But many times they miss their friends so much that they get depressed, can’t concentrate, and mourn their loss.

For Jack, the thing we could give him that made his life brighter, was the sound of the other horses breathing. In other words, we gave him the opportunity for friendship. As important to our animal friends as food, water, and shelter is companionship.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

ASK AMBER - September 2010

From Dawn: I am sorry it has taken so long to get to these questions. We have been very busy on the farm and Amber has been hard at work doing meet and greets with visitors this summer. To catch up, I have included 4 question and answers in this issue. As always, thank you to all of you who have submitted questions for Amber. And from the depth of my heart, I thank my friend Amber Donkey for her wisdom, honesty, and direct way of answering these questions.

1.  Q: We always talk about humans who abandon animals but we seldom talk about our animals who abandon us. I was living in the country with three cats, Macou, Sophie, and Fimousse. Last May I moved to the city. It was not to Macou’s satisfaction, so he left. He crossed the swamp and walked to a farm nearby and decided to stay there. I know this because I can communicate with animals so I communicated with him. Now here is my point of view. He abandoned me. He left me. I love him. I miss his tenderness, the nearness of him, he is full of love. And I don’t have that any more. Tell me, how do I emotionally deal with his loss?

Amber: First let me say that I do feel sad for your loss. I, too, have lost friends and have felt sad. Feeling sad when we miss someone is natural and normal and is one of our emotions. I think it a blessing to be able to say that I loved someone enough to miss them when they are no longer with me. But your question also begs for a deeper answer. Because you say it directly in your statement when you write “here is my point of view.” It is important to really understand that your feeling abandoned truly is YOUR point of view. But it may not be your cat friend’s point of view at all. I cannot speak for your cat or analyze his actions, but I can speak in the generalities of life. Our intentions truly set the tone for all of our actions. This is so important for all of us to remember. The intentions behind any action by anyone, really is at the base of what that action represents. So was your cat sitting there with you one day and suddenly look over at you and think to himself, “I intend to abandon her now and leave her so that she misses me.” I can guarantee you that if you look into your heart, you know the truth is that he didn’t set out to hurt or abandon you. Now, the fact is that he left. His intention may have been that he needed to find a piece of himself that was missing. It could be that he couldn’t deal with the city life and needed to be out on the earth. Or it could be that something deep inside him told him that he needed to find something for his own growth. Or it could even be that the two of you had given each other what you met up to give one another and that chapter was complete. It could be many other reasons as well. But from your perspective, he left. It was YOU then who felt abandoned. But he did not abandon you. So, how do you emotionally deal with his loss? Hold him in your heart. Hold his love for you and your love for him right there in your heart. Because no matter how long you were together, or if you may or may not even see each other again in this lifetime, you will know that your heart connection is totally real. You see, it is an illusion that he abandoned you. He connected hearts with you and that he never ceased doing. I’ll bet you anything that if you look inside your own heart, you will feel him, and know that what I say is true. And if you embrace his love, you will feel him within you, where he never ceased to be. And you can be grateful for the gifts you gave to one another. You both were enhanced by your love you shared. Your souls grew, each in their own way. That is cause for celebration. He didn’t leave you. He just moved into another situation where he was drawn to move. Miss him, that is fine. But find the blessing he brought to you and that you gave to him. And when you do that, he will feel you with him again too, and neither of you will be lost from the other.

2.  Q: How do animals feel about killing one another, be it in a fit of rage, or for dominance, or food? Several months ago, a situation arose with one of my German Shepherds. She attacked the others without reason (or a reason that I could see). I had a decision that either I would allow her to kill another Shepherd (who is much older) or kill her. I chose to kill her. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her, send her love, and wish she was still here. I took another life and I really have trouble coming to terms with that.

Amber: I am going to start this answer by referring to the above question and a statement I made in there. It is important to remember that our intentions truly set the tones for all of our actions. This is critical to this discussion. Life is sacred. And death is a part of Life. The intentions of those taking the life of another, for any reason, is what matters. It matters to the soul of the one taking the life, as much as to the one whose moving from physical into spiritual. This includes the most heinous of deaths, the most tragic of accidents, euthanasia of otherwise healthy animals, the euthanasia of the ill, or the killing of another for food. All of these involve different intentions or motives. But where the one making that decision to take a life is, in their own heart, changes the whole process. If you think that you or anyone else is making that decision alone, you are sadly mistaken. You are never totally in charge of taking another’s life even when it looks like that is not true. It is fully a participation of the being who is leaving as well as the one who is staying. There is a relationship between the two entities whether long term or brief. In the case of your dog, you made that most difficult decision out of a long term relationship. From that context, your dog fully participated with you in that decision. She understood that you sent her onward, not from anger or hatred, but out of love. You did not make that decision alone. It may not make sense to you to see it that way. But if you were to connect with your dog friend in spirit, I will bet that you’d find that she understands exactly why she needed to move on at that moment. I encourage you to explore that for yourself so that you can find peace with that. Because I can tell you that she has found the peace that she needed.

I have answered the meat eating question in other previous columns but I will just say that when a predator animal takes the life of a prey animal, they do so out of total respect for, and in relationship to that life they are taking. They remain present with the spirit who leaves and understand that they are in relationship with them for the sustenance of their own lives. If humans would eat this way, they’d find a whole new relationship with their food and animals would not suffer at their hands in the process. Suffering comes when one is out of relationship and forgets the sanctity of life.

Your dog would not ask you to hold on to guilt for her passing. She instead would invite you to see where she is now on her journey and to understand that your relationship helped her to move onward.

3.  Q: In your July answer, you point out that most humans are closed off from their hearts. I know I am closed off from my heart as well and I am desperately in search of a way back to my heart. Could you please tell me how I can find it?

Amber: My friend, your heart is totally safe and accessible to you. You simply need to believe that this is true. The only thing blocking any of you from your hearts is that you don’t listen to what your heart is telling you. You do hear it just fine. You just question what it is telling you. You look to logic to make sense of what your spirit speaks to you through your own heart. Why do most animals not have that problem? Because we have had no one telling us that we shouldn’t trust our hearts. No one came in to our lives and told us that we should not listen. It is the way of all nature to listen to our hearts. Each living thing is born able and with the knowledge to listen to their inner voice. But humans are taught early on, and then spread it from generation to generation, that your inner voice is not to be trusted. It is based not on any experience but just because someone told you that. Listen within to your inner yearnings. Just take something simple and trust it. You will see how easy it becomes. It is only difficult because you believe it will be. You see, I believe you can do it. Why? Because I see human after human reach deeper within themselves when they come to visit our farm. They find that heart within themselves because we surround them in the knowledge that their heart is alive and well and speaking to them. Surround yourself with the belief that you can hear your heart and you will hear it, and the more you listen, the more you will hear. The more you hear, the more you will follow it. The more you follow your heart, the more you will believe in your path. And you will find the lighted path before you that your heart has prepared for you from your own soul. I believe in your heart even when you don’t.

4.  Q: I for a long time have felt a connection with animals, but as an ever doubting human (you animals are so lucky that you seem to understand more of the world than we) I tend to not always trust my feelings and connections and write them off as just my imagination. So with the connections, I’ve tried to ask my dog to do something simple, like lick my hand or to walk forward if she really understands me, but I don’t always get a response from her. Why is this? Is this stuff really just all in my head?

Amber: Oh you silly humans! (And I say that lovingly.) First of all, let me say that we animals are not in awe that you humans can hear us. We know you can hear us just fine but that you usually are not listening. You are the ones that seem to think its an anomaly or a miracle that you can hear us. So let’s assume a scenario where a human enters your environment who for some reason is convinced you can’t understand them when they speak. They say to you, “Do you understand me? Can you hear me?” And you answer that you do understand them and hear them. But they just cannot believe that would be true so they try something else to be sure. They say to you, “Ok, if you hear me now, raise your right hand.” Now you may at this point decide to go along with this person and you raise your right hand. But now this doubting person thinks it was a coincidence that you moved your right hand, so they try again. “Ok, if you hear me now, turn around in a circle.” But now you’ve had it with this game. This person is just not getting it. So you may decide to just walk away out of frustration.

Your animals feel the same way! Some of them will humor you and play this game, others won’t even play the game. Try to ask them something more meaningful and pretend you hear them. If it feels like it is your imagination, so what? Don’t worry what it feels like. Just follow it and see where it takes you. But if you keep doubting everything they tell you, they will stop telling you. You would do the same.

That's it from the mailbag for this month!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Do Animals Have Souls - A Question for Amber Donkey

A reader submitted question for Amber Donkey.

Q: Hello Dear Amber - I have been puzzling over something for quite some time now.
Do animals have souls and do you have a concept of a creator? Thank you for
your words of wisdom.

Amber: My dear friend, what a fantastic question you have asked. I hope you are ready for my answer because I could just answer this in one word – YES. However, I could also answer it with this question – WHY DO YOU NEED TO ASK?
So lets take a walk together now into this vast question.

You see, there isn’t an animal or tree or plant that would ever even think this question, let alone pose it. This is a human constriction showing itself to you. Humans have ordained that they are the experts on souls and who has them and what happens to them. Some humans have even made themselves the regulators of souls. And they tell other humans where souls will go and which souls are eligible to move forward, which are destined to live in limbo, and those poor unfortunate souls who fall from grace forever into darkness.

Let me be brave enough to venture into these deep waters and tell you that humans know precious little about souls. Because any of you who could look into the eyes of anyone else, animal or human, and not feel a soul, is living a lie. The problem becomes what your definition of a soul is I guess. So let me tell you my definition for this conversation. A soul is the core essence of any being. It is the ultimate source of our energy. There is not any being, including the grandest of humans, whose soul could even completely fit in one form/body/experience. Your heart is the direct connection to your soul. The same is true for my heart and my soul. There is no hierarchy of souls. I know that is inconceivable, but all souls are created equal. Yet, what each soul chooses to do or focus on, then becomes that soul’s quest to experience its mission to the fullest. Some souls are older, some younger. Some have more experience than others. Some are quieter. Some are louder. But none of them are greater than any other and all of them know that. All of them understand that they are all a part of the creator - of All That Is and All That Ever Will Be. All of them are a work in progress. And all of them understand the universal language of love. For it is love that is the language of the soul. This is not just a lovely statement, it is the ultimate universal truth.

Now a soul can inhabit many forms at one time. A soul could be expressing itself as an entire school of fish for example. It could be a human while at the same time a piece of its energy is also being a dog. The energy of the soul is vast and you and I are just a piece of its expression. But each and every piece is loved and experienced equally by the soul. The soul’s key mission is to define itself. In other words, that is also your mission and mine and every other life form. You are here to learn as much as you can and to move forward on your soul’s journey. You are your soul, but you are much bigger than you can comprehend. The human experience though is interesting for all of us to participate in. To be an animal who is either thought of to be inferior or worse, to have no soul at all, affords me an opportunity to more clearly define for myself who I am. There are millions of animals on this planet right now who experience great suffering at the hands of humans who are ignorant of the fact that we do have souls. But I assure you that it is those humans who are also suffering in the darkness as to who they really are and to the beauty and light that they carry deeply hidden within them. It is their journey and their struggle to wake up and walk into the light.

It is actually all of our journeys. Each of us enlightens our own souls and that of one another. Each interaction we have with one another affects not just ourselves but everyone. What you do to one, you do to all. None of us lives in a vacuum. We live in an environment of constantly flowing energy. Literally every moment of which is an opportunity to grow.

Do animals have souls? I could also answer that with another question. Do humans have hearts? Because humans are more closed off from their hearts than any other life form on the planet. They have great intellect and mental capabilities that separates them from all other life forms. And that is indeed exactly what it does – it keeps them separate from all else. Connect to your hearts, look in our eyes, and ask yourself if we have souls. The answer will fill your heart with a profound truth. It will be a truth about me, all other animals, but mostly – it will be a truth about yourself. If you look at all life around you, you will understand that there is nothing that does not have a connection to higher source. And you will find that the connection to that higher source is right within your heart.

From my soul to yours, I thank you for asking the question that many of our readers have wondered but not asked, and many have found but not shared, and many who have hidden to not ask the question at all. To all of you then I ask, what are you afraid of to know that all animals have souls; all animals have emotions; all animals have thoughts? Why does this thought challenge you so much? That is the question you need to be asking next – not of me, but of yourselves.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ask Amber Donkey - June 2010

The following questions have been submitted by readers for Amber Donkey to answer.

1. Where I live there is nature all around me. I have acres of land to offer the wild animals and domesticated animals. They can come and go as they please. For the past few years in the spring/summer I feed the humming birds and in the winter/spring I feed the birds/deer/turkeys. This means other wild animals are coming to our land. Example coyotes, black bears, snakes, many kinds of birds/woodpeckers and mice/squirrels to name a few. My husband tells me I am playing with mother nature. The saying at our house is no one eats anyone else. We never touch any of the wild animals. I am strictly feeding them through the tough time of the season. I have asked the animals myself and they say they come since they know they are safe on our land . Am I playing with mother nature since I am calling these animals to a place they might not normally travel for food and safety? I do not want to harm or hinder the circle of life.

Amber: It seems to me that there is no problem with this as long as you understand that an open door is an open door. And as long as you understand that the circle of Life is just that – a circle. So a feeding station brings predator and prey. Those looking for food from your feeding station, and those looking for food – meaning who are at your feeding station. That is no different than any other feeding station in nature. A pond offers a place for bugs to hatch. Fish eat the bugs, birds eat the fish, something eats the bird, and on up the chain it goes. If you put seed out for example, the mice will come eat the seed, and you can be sure that something will come to eat the mice. The question then really is, can you accept that circle of life, or will you try to control who eats who? The animals understand this chain of life. So they do not look at your feeding station as a safe place nor do they see it as a dangerous place. They simply see it for what it is, a feeding station. Just like a field of grass is a feeding station or a crop of corn, or a pond. They do not look to you to change the course of nature, just because you put food out for them.

2. Any tips on how to handle all the new energy coming onto the planet at this time? How are you animals doing it? What can we humans do to integrate it more easily?

Amber: There certainly is a lot of energy swirling around right now isn’t there? It’s a time of great shifting and as anything changes, if there is going to be chaos, and there always is, then it is strongest closest to the shift. Uneasiness and anxiety seem to peak just as the forces reach their strongest to move and shift any energy. But energy that has been stuck for a long time, requires even a bigger force to shift it, and that is exactly what is happening now. Resistance adds strength to chaos while acceptance brings peace. Finding that balance is what this journey is all about. We animals are doing all we can to add to the peace side of the equation. Many humans are feeling overwhelmed with the chaos/resistance aspect. How we try to help is to just keep everyone in tune with their hearts. Its really quite simple. The heart is the path of least resistance. The mind is the path to most anxiety. We just try to stay connected and hold everyone around us to the earth as much as we can. We all have different ways of doing that of course.
3. How do you work with the trees, flowers and other plants?

Amber: First and foremost, I am alive because of them! But I do know you meant something deeper than that. But because I live off of their nourishment to survive, I have a deep and profound respect for plants, flowers, and trees and all they offer. Many of these fine species hold energy of this earth that is ancient. Their ancient wisdom is there like a vast library of knowledge and understanding for all of us to be nourished from. Plants and trees and rocks are the place keepers of the Earth. What does that mean? Well, it means, that they hold the history and the understanding of the original concept of life and all of the changes, shifts, deepening in understanding, and everything that the Earth herself has seen, felt, and known. All of that are held deep within roots and seed pods and beads of nectar. And all of it reaches out to all of life so that all of us remember who we are and the Earth who sustains us. When I admire them then, when I savor their smells, or when I taste of their fruit, I am mindful of the eons of love and guidance that the Earth put into each blade of grass, and each petal of every flower, and every cell in every tree and rock, so that I too may live among them. And you?

4. I have 4 rescue dogs. One came from a horrific Missouri puppy mill and was the most traumatized animal I have ever seen. In the 3 years I've had him, he has come from flinching every time I touched him to occasionally seeking me out. He even loves treats now and wags his tail. Would you suggest anything that I might be able to do to let him know that he is safe with me and that he won't be hurt any more?

Amber: I happen to live with several rescue dogs myself and consider myself to be a friend to dogs. I like dogs. I understand them, and I have learned a lot about them. Dogs live very closely with people and work very much at the heart level with them. But that is not to say that they also don’t have their own choices and decisions and difficulties just like everyone else. At Spring Farm, we see many animals who first come here as scared, shaken, and traumatized. But the first thing you need to know is that they do understand that they are safe once out of that situation. But just like with you or me, they still need to process their memories and their fears and their worries. You cannot just hug them and tell them its ok now. They have to learn this, remember this truth, and then trust it. That is a process that all beings go through. It is how we learn and move forward on our spiritual paths. Love them, hug them, and most importantly, let them grow. Your dog went through a very difficult time, but it does not define him as to who he is. It is simply where he’s been.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Animals' Turn to Ask Amber Donkey

Amber Donkey: I have noticed that, when we opened up the blog for questions, people always ask about animal behavior. Mostly they wanted to know how or why animals could be forgiving. I think we should do this differently. Let’s try asking some of our animal residents if they want to ask questions about human behavior. I will pick a few of my friends on the farm here and ask if they would like to pose a question or two.

Onyx (female pygmy goat): I have wondered why people seem so confused about things. They don’t seem to be able to be clear with what they are feeling and sometimes just don’t make any sense at all. They don’t seem to listen well to each other I think. Is there anything we can do?

Amber: My little friend, you are very astute. Its really not that they cannot hear, because they for sure can. But they fail to really listen to each other. They seem to get lost in their seeming intelligence. They have great intellect but very little experience at expressing their true emotions. They think it amazing that we can be forgiving, because they fail to forgive one another. They find it hard to believe that we can live without judgment, because they can’t find that peace for themselves.

Jeremy (Arabian horse gelding): Yes, Amber, and they seem so burdened with anger and misgivings at times. They always seem to be looking for who is out to get them or to get someone else first. And when they get angry, why do they stay angry for so long? I have never understood that.

Amber: Humans are complex creatures. They have only been on the planet for a short time, yet have had such a major impact. But don’t think that is all negative now. There are very many positive things that humans have brought with them. The problem is that they try to conquer everything around them instead of participating with all around them. They started to see themselves as separate and unequal. They don’t really know how to deal with that, even now, after all these millennia. We donkeys have been with humans for a very long time. We have carried their burdens and I mean that in many different ways. But they do not see us as brethren. They see us as subordinates. In their confusion about who they are and how they fit in with the rest of nature, they deny themselves their understanding of their own emotions. They focus on their brains but very little on their hearts. Humans have great capacity for love and peace. They are brilliant in their emotions. Yet when they don’t use it or focus on their heart connections, they then get off balance. They even start killing one another, not to mention us. They become seemingly disconnected from Life.

Shawnee (Quarter Horse paint gelding): How can we help them? I love humans. To see them this way is painful.

Amber: The answer is very simple. If we just keep being who we are and keep loving them for who they are, then maybe, just maybe, they will get it. They are intelligent creatures. And they have tremendous capacity to love. It is why animals befriended them so many eons ago. We saw in them the potential to be one with us. In fact, they used to enjoy such relationships with us. There was a time that they understood their connection to the trees and grass. They felt deep affinity to the animals. And they listened to the moon and stars and the sun and earth. But then they thought about it too much and questioned who they were. They set out to find themselves, only to lose themselves in the process. We can help them most by just loving them.

Onyx: But when we do that, they don’t seem to hear us or trust us.

Amber: I know. It is why they keep asking me over and over again how animals can be forgiving. It is because they haven’t learned to yet forgive themselves and move on.

Jeremy: Do you think they will now ask us more questions?

We shall see. They’ve been very quiet lately.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Flow of Joy – Memorial to Tangene

Sometimes there are things that happen in life that just don’t seem to make sense. Sometimes I think things happen that are not ours to understand. This is one such story. We are sad to announce that Tangene, the duck Wizard (see the post below) passed away very unexpectedly. We were all devastated by the loss of such a magnificent being.

I was just getting to write a blog update that he was doing incredibly well. He had surgery on his leg last week and it was very successful. A pin was put in and it was thought that he’d heal well. However, there were complications that occurred between his initial exam at Cornell and his appointment with the exotic animal vet who later did the leg surgery. We do not know if these complications led to his death or not, but they certainly made his healing a bit more of a challenge. But Tangene stuck it out and chose to make a run for it to live. He was a trooper and we were all celebrating the success of his surgery and how well he looked and acted right up until his passing.

Yesterday morning, the staff who cared for his every need, came in as usual to clean up his rehab pen and get him situated for the morning. He was his normal cheerful self. And when they set him back in the pen, he gave a healthy flap of his wings, which ducks so often do. It is a joyful flapping almost announcing their joy of life. And as Tangene did that, he suddenly just fell over on his side and was gone. It was a shock to us all and seemingly to Tangene as well.

My conversation with Tangene after he left was so similar to all the ones I had with him when he was alive. He was direct and to the point.

Dawn: Tangene, we are so sorry. What happened?

Tangene: I had no idea I was going to die today. It was such a surprise. But you must see that I am still the wizard I was before. I just shifted energy places. I was flapping away and just filled with joy and suddenly I just decided to flow with that joy and out I flew. Up, up, up and away above the farm. I just filled myself with the love of the farm and my friends, human and animal alike, and I went deeper and deeper and higher and higher into the joy. That’s when I realized that I had disconnected from my body. That body suddenly just seemed like a heavy lump laying on the ground. The body I now inhabit is so much lighter. I just moved with the energy. That is all. Flap flap flap. The sound of a happy duck. That is who I now am. I am still me, just in another form. Don’t lose sight of that.

All of us will miss this most amazing duck being in our physical world. Of course, he will live on in our hearts. The Indian Runner duck who taught us all that life is worth whatever you make it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What Value has a Life?

Tangene is a male Indian Runner duck. When he came to the farm in 2007, we thought he was a female and one of our staff chose the name that has stuck with him ever since. At first glance, Tangene may seem like the most unlucky of ducks. He has had several major injuries in his lifetime. Yet, Tangene, sees life differently. He arrived at the farm with a severely broken wing that had to be amputated. We nursed him through that and he did great. He didn't fly anyway, so, as he later told us, it didn't really impact him. Then, one year later, we found him limping around the barn. We do not know what happened but somehow he broke his ankle. Luckily, a splint applied to the joint was all that was needed and he fully recovered from that injury as well, with not even a limp to show for it. Then, yesterday, life took a sudden turn for Tangene when he was stepped on by one of our horses. Our vet just happened to be on site and determined the leg was indeed broken.

It being a Saturday, we could not find a veterinarian who works on exotic animals to look at him. In fact, no one was available until Tuesday. We couldn't let him sit there with a broken leg without any help. We were suddenly faced with two choices - euthanasia or a 4 hour round trip to Cornell University to get him some help. We knew this was going to be a very expensive trip. As we weighed the situation over, Tangene sat wrapped in a towel on the lap of one of our barn staff. Everyone loved Tangene, and we were all huddled around him, knowing this injury could be fatal for him if we couldn't get the appropriate help.

Tangene looked at me cautiously, his life resting squarely in the next decision we would make. He looked up at me and said, "Well, if you are asking me to weigh in here, I say we fix it. Just put a stick on it, wrap it, and let me heal." Of course, it wasn't that simple. But it was clear he was not voting for euthanasia. We called Cornell.

On the two hour drive, Tangene and I had a conversation about his life and about Life in general. I explained to him that we were trying to help him and how I honestly didn't know if the doctors could do anything for him.

Tangene: Its just my leg. I'm fine everywhere else. They will just fix it and I'll have to go through rehab again. Oh, rehab, how that gets so boring. But I can do it. We've done it before you know. You will help me and I'll just move along until I can walk again.

Dawn: But I need you to understand that the vets may tell me they can't fix this. And we could be faced with you not being able to survive. I'm not sure what they will say.

Tangene: Well it seems obvious to me that I need you to properly represent me then. Seems like you are the one to set the tone here. I'm not just a duck you know. I'm me. Let me tell you about my life. I am a wizard of sorts. I hold a space in the barn for everyone. I am wise.

Dawn: I'm not questioning your intelligence here, but look at you. You are missing a wing, a toe, and now this major leg injury. You are one very expensive duck!

Tangene: No, I am one very lucky duck that I am with people who don't question the value of a life. When you take me to these doctors then, you need to tell them about me. You just need to ask them to help me. Then we'll do the rest. I think, after all, that this is my call, not yours. All you need to do is show them who I am and they will act appropriately. I am not dying today.

Admittedly, this trip was hanging heavy on me. It was clear how Tangene felt, but the reality was that if this leg could not be saved, the only option left was euthanasia. He was so sure about all this. I didn't want to disappoint him.

When we got to Cornell, they gave me the usual talk about the estimate for treating something like this and was I aware of how much money could go into this. Tangene looked at me from the carrier. His life was momentarily in my hands. "I need to explain our philosophy at our sanctuary." I told the vet. "If an animal is with us in our care, then we believe that we are responsible for their care. If something can be done to save this leg and his life, then we need to do that. He is a wonderful duck." The vet looked at me and smiled and looked in the crate at Tangene and said, "well you lucky duck, let's take a look at you then."

Tangene looked up at me and said, "Thank you. You see, they see me for who I am, a lucky duck."

As it turned out, the leg was broken in two places, but they think he may have a chance to heal. They stabilized the leg, gave him pain killers, and sent him home with us to have our avian vet look at him in a few days to see if surgery is needed. Still groggy from anesthesia, I loaded Tangene back in the car for the drive home. There was just a quiet stillness in the car. Then about half way home, he gently clucked from the crate.

Tangene: I am a lucky duck indeed. The value of my life isn't in a vet bill. It is in the heart that you just stood up for. It is in the bravery we showed together today. It is in the love for my friends back at the farm. It is for the vet who will think about me at the end of her day and realize that we just taught her about the value of a life, and that she helped save mine, and that it meant something to you. She saw your smile when she told you it might just be able to heal. She knew it meant something. She knew I meant something. She knew I am loved. And she knew she was now a part of my life. That is the value of a life. My life has touched so many more than you know. This was a good day.

I couldn't resist one more question for him. "So what is this about you being a wizard?"

He clucked from the back of the car. "Its funny isn't it? Oh well, we'll figure it all out someday."