When you think of therapy animals, chances are dogs, cats and rabbits come to mind. This story is a different type of animal that paid back the kindness that was shown to him when he needed it most.
Dina Theissen found the little bird that later became known to her family as Gracie when he was lying on the ground next to a tree. Not knowing what type of bird he was, Dina followed the advice of local bird experts to watch and see if his mom came around to take care of him. When no one came for Gracie, Dina took him in and gave him a safe place to grow without the risks of growing up an orphan without a mom. She let him live on their screened in porch.
Dina provided Gracie with insects and became a hunting buddy right along side of him. All the while Gracie grew “An unbreakable bond was developed on that patio, from the endless hours Gracie and I spent together,” Dina explains. “After awhile I saw him notice the insects flying around and we became a great foraging team. I would lift him up and lead him toward the insects so that he could learn to forage himself. It was amazing to see him succeed in such a remarkable way. I was his mommy in every way.”
When the bird grew large enough to fend for himself, the family did what was in the best interest of Gracie. They let him go. They were sad to see their good friend leave. Now he would now live a life of freedom like he was meant to. What happened next though was where this story really turns precious.
Gracie returned for a visit. Not only once but every single day for the last 2 and half years. The family always looked forward to the visits. One day the daily visits became very important to Dina.
Dina was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As she underwent treatments, Gracie was right there by her side. The bird provided a special kind of therapy that only the blue jay could provide.
“I can honestly say that without Gracie’s presence during that time, things would have been a lot different, emotionally for me, and even Alyssa and Ken, too,” Dina explains. “He has helped us in ways that one can only feel.”