It Takes a Village by Lynn Porter

“It Takes a Village” by Lynn Porter was published in the Angel Animals Story of the Week newsletter on 3-28-09.  To subscribe to this free newsletter send a blank email to

By Lynn Porter

This is a story that begins with tragedy but ends with the kindness of strangers.

Honker is a mini-Macaw, who was badly bitten by an injured cat. The cat’s teeth pierced Honker’s skull, leaving the bird with meningitis, encephalitis, and another “itis” I can’t remember. .

The cat was not to blame. He had been starved, was dying himself, and did what any cat would when lunch is bounding toward him with emerald feathers gleaming.

The cat’s bite left four open holes in Honker’s brain; two more in his neck left serious injuries and diseases. Honker’s beak couldn’t open or close. His left wing dragged, he couldn’t walk or vocalize, and he had an enormous bald spot on his skull. He could not move his head or lift it from his back.

This tragedy occurred on the Fourth of July, when nary an avian vet, let alone ours, was available. On the fifth of July, I beat the staff to the doors of the Avian Hospital. Our beloved and excellent vet told me Honker was doomed and that putting him down would be a kindness.

I almost agreed, crying, cradling Honker. I felt his pain and foresaw the agony ahead. Then I remembered Honker also had an opinion, which was quite valid. It was his life after all. So I asked him what he wanted, knowing he understood the situation. He said from within his mangled body/mind, “Don’t give up on me.”

At times, I simply slept under Honker’s cage at the hospital just to be with him. Let him see mama was there.

This continued for almost three years. Syringe feeding only, every two hours, for the first year: He was two at the time. Embarrassing for him, but I really tried to give him the dignity he deserved. I wiped his beak clean and groomed the feathers he still couldn’t reach. I became mommy of all trades.

The best day of all was when we went for a final checkup. At the end of a long three years or so, Honker was pronounced more or less healed. We gleefully headed home to get his mini vanilla ice cream cone. (When you are very small, this is a medicinal given, of course.)

We pulled into the local drive-through. I gave our regular order for one vanilla ice cream mini-cone and then pulled around to the pay window. The normally warm, loving person closed the window with a snap.  Folding her arms across her chest, she refused to accept money. Very odd.

Then I looked up the drive: There was an arm, holding an ice cream cone straight out at the end of it. Honker began jumping up and down and mumbling on my shoulder as we drove forward. He will never be able to speak, but we understand each other, somehow.

The gloriously beautiful, loving wrinkled hand that belonged to one of Honkers helpers was holding an ice cream cone just ready for the little person with feathers. Honker was polite enough not to bite the loving hand that simply gave it to him.

Honker still believes he deserves a cone a day. We don’t go often but when we do, the window snaps shut and the hand always emerges.

It takes a village, and the village is here for Honker.

Lynn Porter is a healer of animals and humans. Anyone who needs her. She lives in Denver where the snow can be rather deep at times. Needless to say, Honker has never put a tootsie into the snow. Lynn works mainly with birds but take anyone who has a need for her healing skills. She has been a healer since birth, sixty-six years ago. Her site is where Honker can be seen on her shoulder, taking tears off Lynn’s eyelashes. Lynn says that Honker takes pretty good care of her and she is very grateful he is alive. Honker is now able to help Lynn heal a badly injured anything, knowing it won’t hurt him. They are now a healing team.

What animals have you known who went from their own personal tragedies to helping other people or animals to heal?

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