I haven't written much (anything?) on Steve since he went to live in his forever home with Shannon last September. I didn't want to steal her thunder, and figured people could keep up with his progress at her blog.
But after reading yesterday's entry, I can no longer control myself.
Shannon has done such amazing things with Steve that I wanted to post.
I don't think I ever truly made it clear how dire Steve's situation was. On his vet records, the vet recommended euthanasia. Right there in black and white. Between his physical problems (severe mutilation under both wings) and emotional problems, as well as lack of progress (i.e. deterioration) during the time he spent at the rescue, she felt his quality of life was such that it would be far kinder to put him out of his misery.
Even though I do believe that euthanasia can be the best choice at times, it's one thing for me to say that generally, and another for me to think about it while looking into Steve's eyes while he sat in his cage at the rescue -- isn't there something that could be done?
Knowing we had a no new pet ban on (limits!), the woman who runs the rescue once again approached us to see if we'd make an exception and see if Steve could make any progress in our home, where things are quieter and there is more routine. I agonized over this decision. We have a history of failing fostering (Rocky, Beeps, and Stella were never supposed to stay). Steve is a male while my two greys are females. What problems might that cause for the parrots already under my care? Also, Steve was in really bad shape. Who would be willing to take that on eventually? Was this really adoption disguised as fostering? Finally, would taking on another parrot stretch us past our limits? I'm constantly reminding myself about limits and making sure that the parrots we've already committed to get the same care they're used to and deserve -- something that becomes harder to do the more parrots in the house!
The day we were supposed to pick him up at the rescue, I got up there and started crying; I'd convinced myself Steve would be the straw that broke the camel's back and worried about Max and Stella too much. I tearfully told her we couldn't take him home. But then I couldn't get him out of my mind, and Thomas picked him up two days later as a surprise.
When Shannon contacted me to ask if I might consider letting her adopt Steve, I was shocked. I may have sounded a bit pessimistic at first, but I wanted her to know exactly how he was and what she might be getting herself into -- I didn't want to sugarcoat things and leave her disappointed. Steve was going to be a lot of work. Luckily, Shannon was up to the task, as there really has been an amazing connection between the two of them from the start.
I've been following their journey on the blog and via e-mail (hope I haven't been too much of a pest!) and have been thrilled by how quickly Steve has been improving. And then I read yesterday's entry. It brought tears to my eyes. I loved that picture, and then when Shannon described that he voluntarily climbed out of the cage and up to her shoulder in order to receive more affection -- now I have goosebumps!
What an amazing testament to the power of choices, and to the resiliency of parrots. Shannon let Steve set the pace. She watched his body language and used positive reinforcement to help him progress. She gained his trust, and now she's reaping the benefits of her patience. Steve has no idea how lucky he was to have found his way to such a wonderful, caring person. I look forward to watching his continued progress.
Shannon, I've said this a million times, but thank you so much for taking Steve into your heart and home and providing him with the best family/flock he could have hoped for. Thank you for paying attention to his subtle communication attempts and not forcing him or getting disappointed in him. Thank you for sharing his story so that others in seemingly hopeless parrot situations can see what's worked for you and what might work for them. Thank you for being an amazing person and becoming a friend. When we took Steve in, I never could have imagined such a happy ending for all involved.