Happily ever after..

This project was so special and so deeply meaningful in so many ways.  Not only was this an auction piece to benefit the two rescues that I hold so close to my heart but it was also a piece in tribute to a story of healing, hope and love reunited.  This excerpt was written by this bird momma when she was reunited with her baby in 2016.  This one will stay with me ..

My First African Grey:

My father brought home a baby african grey in 1993. I was only 6 years old but I still remember the day. This little baby was nestled in a box and he could fit in my dad’s hand. I remember hand feeding him and being so nervous and excited at the same time. From that day forward, our baby grey was part of the family. He would mimic everything in the house and he was the best escape artist that I had ever seen. He was very bonded to my dad and this was my dad’s “baby”. Every night he would lie on my dad’s chest while we all hung out in the family room. This grey really knew how to milk it too and he loved being the center of the attention. At a young age, I could see that he was very special and he had a deep love for my family and an inseparable bond with my dad.

Unexpected Hardships:

Unfortunately I can’t say that things stayed like this forever. Everything changed on February 5th 2001 when my dad never returned home from work. My family’s world was flipped upside down when my dad passed. Life had to go on and my family did the best we could but our lives were forever changed. Our poor african grey suffered as much as we did. He became less active and you could feel the sadness. My mom had to work longer hours and my sisters and I were in school and not home as much. Our poor grey was getting less attention because the house was not lit up with noise anymore. We did our best but it was not enough. In 2006, my oldest sister and mom made the very difficult decision to rehome him. There isn’t just one word out there that can describe what it felt like. We were losing a pet that was part of our family for 13 years and one that we loved dearly.

Rehoming Process:

My mom and sister were not going to re home our african grey to just anyone. They took their time and they did their homework. My sister found an amazing woman that came highly recommended by my sister’s friend in grad school. This woman was very knowledgeable of parrots and could give our grey the attention and love he deserved. Finding a woman like that made the decision easier to live with because we knew she could provide a better life for him. My sister and this women kept in contact for the beginning years and the updates gave us peace of mind. I can honestly say that rehoming our african grey was the absolute best thing we could do for him.

SPECIAL NOTE (especially for people who shame others for rehoming): We rehomed our african grey because circumstances beyond our control changed our lives. That does not mean we loved our grey any less. In a perfect world, my dad would have lived a long life and his grey would have gone to me or one of my sisters after he passed. In life things will happen that our beyond our control. Things don’t always go as planned so you need to be capable of making the right choice for that time in your life. You put aside your own feelings and you think about the pet’s (or child’s or whatever) well being.

Meeting my Husband and Pepper:

Two years after my family rehomed our grey, I met my husband, Frank (at 19 years old). His dad owned an grey named Pepper. Frank was so good with Pepper and sometimes I couldn’t help but think of how my little guy was doing. Time went on… Frank and I went to college, graduated, got jobs and in 2013 we got married. Last September, we made the decision to buy a baby african grey. Sadly, 1 week before we were supposed to take her home she got pseudomonas and had a seizure. She wasn’t progressing normally and the breeder wasn’t comfortable with us taking her home. As the year went on we found that my father in law wasn’t doing well healthwise. This unfortunately took a toll on Pepper as she wasn’t receiving proper care. Physically we could see she wasn’t doing well so we asked my father in law if we could take her and eventually he agreed. We have had Pepper for 6 months and her health and appearance have improved significantly. I have learned so much about greys because of Pepper and it has been an amazing journey.

Dexter and Greycloud:

When we got Pepper, I joined a few different Facebook groups and Avian Avenue because I needed to self educate about african greys. I often found myself wondering about my dad’s grey and how he is doing. It had been several years since the last update because my sister eventually fell out of touch with the woman.
My dad’s grey was named Dexter and so one night I decided to enter “Dexter” into the search bar on Avian Avenue’s site. I just wanted to see if anything would pop up. I have absolutely no idea what made me do it but I did and that is how I found Greycloud (Judy). She had a Dexter too so I read some of her older post. I noticed how some of her post matched up with my Dexter’s stories and the updates that we received after Dexter’s adoption.

I reached out to Greycloud with some questions and the facts aligned. This was the woman who adopted Dexter!! I literally couldn’t believe it and I still can’t believe how it happened. Everyone who knows Greycloud (Judy) knows that Dexter is a girl. Growing up, we always thought Dexter was a boy and I pretty sure the breeder confirmed it so this came as a big surprise!

Rehoming Process:

I first reached out to Greycloud (Judy) sometime in March/April. At that time, she had already begun to suffer from Dystonia’s severe symptoms. My heart broke when I read her post about rehoming some of her parrots. I knew how much she loves Dexter and she really wanted to keep Dex because of their strong bond. I let Judy know I was here if she ever needed me. Judy knew that I would love to have Dexter if Dex ever needed to be rehomed down the road. Even though I hadn’t met Judy at that time, I felt like I knew her..sort of like a family friend. She is the woman that helped my family by giving Dexter a loving home 13 years ago and she worked with Dex through all her troubles. Dexter mutilated without my family knowing during the last couple of years we had her and Judy got Dex through it. I believe my sister finding Judy was not by accident. Sometimes things really do happen for a reason and I believe Dex needed Judy during that time in her life.

I followed back up with Judy in early July to see how she and Dex were going. Dexter was doing just fine but Judy was going through a very very difficult time. She has to fight this battle everyday and many of Judy’s followers know what she is going through so I don’t need to say it. Judy loves Dexter so much and she made the VERY difficult decision to rehome her to me and my husband. Judy didn’t ask to be sick but life threw her a big curve ball. She put Dexter’s well being first because that is how much she loves Dex.

Dexter has a piece of my dad and piece of Judy in her. I met Judy two weeks ago for the first time and saw Dex for the first time in 12 years. Bitter sweet doesn’t even begin to explain what I was feeling. I hate that Judy is going through this and I really hope she gets a break soon. She is selfless and she did something incredibly difficult for any parront to do. No one wants to give up something they love especially while they are still breathing. It also made me sad that Dex was going through the rehoming transition again. The thing that gave me the most comfort was knowing that my husband and I would love Dexter and give her a wonderful life… this will be her forever home.

Dexter Two Weeks Later:

I am happy to say that Dex is adjusting wonderfully and each day I see her do something new. She is eating, drinking, climbing and ringing her bell (all the time). I saw a major increase in her activity level especially in the first week. Its going to take a while for her to bond to me but I have all the patience in the world (that is me assuming she won’t bond to my hubby… fingers crossed). The one thing I was worried about was Pepper being jealous of Dex and that ended up not being a problem at all. They whistle back and forth all the time. Pepper is so interested in Dex and loves to watch her.

Finding Peace:

It really is amazing how Judy and I crossed paths when we did. Had Frank and I never made the decision to get an African grey last fall or had we not adopted Pepper then I would have never joined Avian Avenue. If guardian angels exist, i’d say my dad made sure the stars aligned on the day my sister discovered Judy and the day I searched “Dexter” on Avian Avenue and found Greycloud. I want Judy to find peace with her decision like my family did. It will take some time but I will always keep in contact with her. I like to think of this as an “open adoption” because my door will always be open.


What to wear, what to do, what to bring…. JUST GO WITH IT

I tend to develop friendships with each one of my clients and love seeing their family change and grow during the sessions.  During each session we can day dream and brain storm of ideas that we would like to accomplish during future sessions.  This session was no exception.

I had my laundry list of items needed and gear to bring. I worried about what the conditions were like and if the children were going to be okay.  The reality of it was that we went into this with no expectations, no limits and decided to have a ton of fun with it.  

For the better part of two years we dreamed up this session and it did not fail to be one of the most fun, adventurous and spontaneous sessions we have done.  This session was also a maiden voyage for a collaboration and a chance for an artistic sister hood to shine.   Working with Linda Campos (Broken Lenz Media) we were able to create a family memory that is truly magical.

Experimenting with a “family memory” session we were able to bring a video and still images that this family can look back on for years to come.  We thank you Kelly and family for a shoot to remember.


Last note.. never be afraid of taking on a new adventure and evolving an idea,  let that artsy light shine!