Originally posted on Oregon Live by Monique Balas
Snow, a 20-year-old umbrella cockatoo, is helping Rebecca Shilling, a veteran and cancer survivor, to recover from her recent surgery.
Shilling, a former senior master sergeant who served with the U.S. Air Force for 22 years, recently brought a white 20-year-old umbrella cockatoo named Snow into her family’s fold.If anyone understands the curative powers of a cockatoo, it’s Washougal resident Rebecca Shilling.
“In my case, not only am I a vet, but I am a recovering cancer survivor,” says Shilling, who underwent a double mastectomy for breast cancer unrelated to her service. “It’s real easy to get totally down.”
Snow provides a welcome distraction from the difficulties Shilling faces during her recovery.
She comes to Shilling’s family through a new program called Parrots for Patriots, which launched on June 1 by Northwest Bird Rescue in Vancouver.
About Parrots for Patriots
The program was the brainchild of Christopher Driggins, Northwest Bird Rescue’s founder and president.
An Army veteran himself who was stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., Driggins is all too familiar with the plights of both homeless birds and lonely veterans.
Knowing how many avian companions have been abandoned – and how many veterans have lost comrades to combat or suicide – he thought he could heal two hearts with one bird.