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Bowie the Cockatoo Dances His Way through Life

Bowie is one of the animals featured in the children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian! The story follows the journey of a foster puppy as he moves from home to home. The characters in the book are based on real animals.

“When I’m feeling sad,” said Bowie, “I do something fun to cheer myself up. I ruffle my feathers, strut my stuff, and dance!”

Let’s dance! Bowie is a Major Mitchell’s cockatoo who takes his namesake to heart. Despite damage to his wings as a baby bird, he doesn’t let anything stop him from dancing his way through life.

Bowie’s story is one of love and perseverance. After his wings were damaged during an attempt to clip him for hand rearing, he was put up for adoption. It was uncertain if he would ever be rehabilitated and returned to the wild, but his adoptive guardian Isabelle could tell he had a tenacious spirit. She provided Bowie with four years of strenuous rehabilitation and in March 2020 he finally took his first flight.

Since Bowie had to learn at a young age that there was more to life than flying, he became an avid participant in other activities. He enjoys playing in the sunlight, whistling, bonding with his rescue bird friends, dancing (of course), and screaming PEEKABOO at 4am.

When he gets excited, he bobs around and struts his stuff. He’s often found dancing up a storm on his perch or hanging upside down in some kind of cockatoo acrobatics.

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Bowie currently lives with four other rescue birds — Smokey and Ducky the cockatiels, Billina the chicken, and Winston the budgie. He loves his bird companions and leads a good example even if he is mischievous at times. He tries to be a bird of many talents, singing along with the cockatiels and crowing along with Billina. After all, who says a cockatoo can’t be friends with a chicken? Bowie’s motto is that friends flock together, even if we look different from one another.

The antics of these feathered friends have gathered a following on Instagram, where fans check in to see what kind of adventures the birds are up to. Bowie captures hearts with his exotic charisma and clever personality. As one fan describes him, “Bowie is so majestic and yet so silly.”

Other fans leave comments like “love your moves!” and “yeeehaw!” One thing is for certain, Bowie sure knows how to get a party started!

A Magnificent Cockatoo Companion

Bowie loves interacting with his human companions, too, although this isn’t without some adjustments. Isabelle explains, “Since he came into our lives we have truly lived as if we have a toddler. We’ve had to adapt our lifestyle to give him the best possible life we can together.”

Adapting to life with a cockatoo has been well worth it for Isabelle and her family. Bowie has learned to say many words and phrases from his near-constant interaction with his human companions. His favourite thing of all is to dance with his adoptive dad while he whistles to him. How adorable is that?

“Our house is filled with giggles, whistling, peekaboos, and other goofy happy noises,” Isabelle shares. “Bowie is also very emotionally intuitive. His companionship when life gets difficult is invaluable to us.”

Illustration by Lisa McKaskell

Bowie’s gravitation towards mentoring  — whether it be his human companions, fans on Instagram, or fellow birds — makes him perfect for his role in the upcoming children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian. In the book he mentors a foster puppy and inspires the puppy to dance, just like Bowie would in real life. It’s this kind of can-do attitude that Green Bamboo Publishing hopes will help children in foster care, and children from all walks of life, when they read this story.

Tips for Rescuing a Cockatoo

Isabelle wants people to know that cockatoos are SMART. Bowie has the intelligence and emotional capabilities of a three year old. Isabelle’s rescue birds have taught her that regardless of species or age, each bird is an individual. Every bird has their own personality, and anyone looking to bring one home should be able to love them as they are.

Many birds suffer horribly within the pet trade. The very least we can do for the ones in our care is to give them the best life they can possibly have. The layers and attributes of a bird’s personality far exceed what we see at first glance. Regardless if you’re looking at a cockatoo, cockatiel, or a chicken; they all have their likes, dislikes and wants. Above anything else, they are more than deserving of your time, love, and attention.

Even something like diet preferences can differ from bird to bird. Bowie, for instance, loves chickpeas, sweet potato, chamomile flowers, whole grain toast…  and shoes! It’s just one more fun and silly thing about Bowie that makes him the best kind of friend to have around.

If you want to learn more about this cockatoo’s life, follow Bowie and his friends at @cockatiel.too on Instagram.

High Paw, Super Sebastian will be available for purchase in October 2020. Proceeds from the book will help support Braid Mission, an organization that provides team-based mentorship to children in foster care.

Moonshadow Teaches Us that Reading Is Magic

Moonshadow is one of the animals featured in the children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian! The story follows the journey of a foster puppy as he moves from home to home. The characters in the book are based on real animals.

“When I’m feeling restless,” said Moonshadow, “I like to move my body. I jump up and down, kick out my hooves, and run with the wind. ”

There’s a legend that the Moon loved the Earth so much that it gifted her a tiny star. Moonshadow might just be that star brought to life. Born on the Spring Equinox under a supermoon, Moonshadow is a miniature therapy horse whose pattern looks like the milky way galaxy. She also has the shape of a perfect star on her left shoulder.

Children were immediately drawn to this special horse, so the organization she belonged to reached out to a children’s hospital to help give her a name. The children at the hospital decided on Moonshadow because of her dark, dappled coloring and because of the supermoon that was so bright in the sky on the night of her birth.

Moonshadow is part of Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses, which is one of the largest equine therapy programs in the world. “The first Gentle Carousel horses worked with young children who had backgrounds of neglect or abuse,” says Debbie Garcia-Bengochea, the organization’s Education Director. “A large horse can be intimidating to a small child, but the miniature horses were easier for the children to trust and befriend.”

That was over 20 years ago, when Gentle Carousel was founded by a single family. The team of tiny equines now visits over 25,000 children and adults each year, providing therapeutic services in hospitals, hospice care, programs for veterans, orphanages, senior centers, and more.

At only 26 inches high, Moonshadow is small even for her American miniature horse breed. Of course, she thinks she’s huge. Moonshadow is a bundle of energy. Her wildness surfaces in her outdoor play time where she loves to run, buck, jump, and gallop until she is nearly wiped out! She’ll run so fast that she’ll fall right asleep on the sofa after, sometimes with a book on her lap.

A Little Horse Power Produces Big Effects

There’s a time to be wild, and a time to be calm. Moonshadow seems to intuitively know this and kids are mesmerized by her. Children love that she’s so unusual looking, with her bright blue eyes, and when they interact with her they feel like something magical is engaging with them. Moonshadow offers them a safe way to experience a touch of the wild, since she knows how to maintain that balance between being magically wild and yet so gentle.

Outdoor play is part of Moonshadow’s training. The horses go through at least a two year basic therapy training program. The basic training includes indoor hospital practice and safely interacting with adults and children. The horses gain experience overtime, too, and are constantly becoming even better versions of themselves. Even during COVID-19, Gentle Carousel horses have quickly learned to adapt. Story times that usually would be done live at a library are now done through video. The horses have facetime sessions with children in hospitals. Visits with seniors now take place through windows.

Despite the physical distancing measures, Moonshadow is still having a profound effect on people’s lives. One woman at a senior home had not spoken in months, but when she saw Moonshadow through the window she started waving and exclaiming, “We love you!” This is the kind of magical effect Moonshadow has with everyone she meets.

Moonshadow Teaches Children that Reading Is Magic

It is also the kind of magic she brings to the children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian. In the book, foster puppy Sebastian struggles with various emotions. Moonshadow’s character helps him overcome feeling restless by running through the wind together in the tall grass. They also kick and jump and play, mimicking Moonshadow’s outdoor playtime in real life.

Illustration by Lisa McKaskell

Moonshadow is a perfect fit for the book for another special reason — she and her Gentle Carousel companions facilitate an award-winning literacy program called Reading Is Magic, that inspires young readers and “brings books to life”. The goal is to help children improve their literacy skills and help them fall in love with reading. Reading is Magic has a focus on at-risk kids and hosts sessions through libraries, schools, mentoring programs, and education resource centers.

Moonshadow teaches us that big magic can appear in small forms. Perhaps the most important lesson she offers is that even the smallest among us can have a profound effect on the world. Like her namesake, Moonshadow reminds us all to keep shining our lights — you never know the difference you might make.

Surf Therapy Dog Ricochet Sends Out Waves of Empowerment

Surf Dog Ricochet is one of the animals featured in the children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian! The story follows the journey of a foster puppy as he moves from home to home. The characters in the book are based on real animals.

“When I’m feeling scared,” said Ricochet, “I get on my surfboard. Facing the big waves helps me feel brave and empowered.”

Ricochet takes her role as a therapy dog to the next level — quite literally. When she braves the waves with her unique brand of surf dog therapy, she allows people to feel as if they’re on top of the world.

Ricochet is a Golden Retriever and the first-ever dog to surf with kids and veterans as a form of surf therapy, assistance, healing, and empowerment. She pioneered the concept of dogs surfing with kids, when in 2009, she made an independent decision to jump on a surfboard with a boy who was quadriplegic. She clearly showed the world what her life’s purpose was and embraced it with all four paws!

12 years later and she’s become world famous. With numerous awards under her collar, such as the ASPCA Dog of the Year and the AKC Award for Canine Excellence, Ricochet has reached a level of mastery for her surfing and healing capabilities. She even recently made it all the way to Hollywood with her spotlight in the Superpower Dogs documentary, available to watch on Hulu.

Ricochet’s Healing Power of Surf Dog Therapy

Although surfing has been at the forefront of her work, it’s not just the act of surfing that makes Ricochet’s interactions so life changing. It’s her compelling, one-of-a-kind ability to make immediate, heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul connections with strangers both in and out of the water. When she meets a person it’s like they’re a book and she reads the whole book in a matter of seconds. She intuitively and empathically attunes to their emotional and physical changes, which allows for profound paws-on healing interventions. She balances boards, and lives!

Ricochet has surfed with hundreds of kids with special needs, people with disabilities, wounded warriors and veterans with PTSD. She instinctively counter-balances the board and adapts her surfing style based on each individual’s disability — healing hearts and souls on every wave.

Riding the Waves of COVID-19

Ricochet usually offers her paws-on healing through canine-assisted surfing, paddling, swimming, playing, therapy, and other programs. Due to recent COVID-19 social distancing measures, Ricochet has adapted how she provides her therapeutic services. Although, not to worry — Ricochet is used to riding the waves and she’s getting through the pandemic just like any other challenge.

Illustration by Lisa McKaskell

Her services have mostly switched from in-person sessions to virtual canine therapy and video conferencing. Ricochet and her guardian Judy Fridono are focusing on supporting doctors, nurses, other healthcare professionals and first responders in an effort to reduce anxiety and the risk of suicide. Ricochet is also providing comfort and healing to families who experienced the unfathomable reality of not being there when a loved one passed from COVID-19, as well as essential workers, seniors in nursing homes and school children affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fridono explains, “At a time when dogs could be truly valuable resources, we’re thinking outside the box in an effort to offer some form of canine therapy to the millions of people around the world who need it.”

As things transition, Ricochet is also offering 1-on-1 visits and house calls as part of a curbside comfort program. As always, safety and well-being are at the forefront. The program was established with safety protocols as the number one priority for Ricochet, her handler, and everyone she interacts with. People and Ricochet, too, can receive some much-needed affection during this time of social distancing.

Everyone’s Best Friend

Ricochet is a shining example that dogs really are humankind’s best friend. She has raised over $600 000 for human and animal causes and touches the lives of everyone she meets. She has improved the quality of life for so many individuals with physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities, and she’s still got a whole lot more love to give!

With her feature in the upcoming children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian, Ricochet will extend her healing powers to support children in foster care. Her section of the children’s book deals with helping kids (and adults!) process the emotion of fear. Through her example, children will learn how to not only brave the waves but also how to courageously face the many difficulties they encounter in life. Her message in the book is ultimately about empowerment and how to be your best self.

Ricochet is certainly busy being her best self and living her best possible life!

To learn more about Ricochet and her team, visit

You can also follow Ricochet on social media at @surfdogricochet

Watermelon Party is the Sweet and Juicy Book of the Summer!

The beloved children’s book, based on a true story, recently surpassed 100 5-star reviews on Amazon, and raised funds for an animal charity in the process.

Everyone loves a party… a watermelon party! It’s even better if your party goers include names like Barcode, Bazinga, and Auntie Cheesecake. These adorable characters join together with other fascinating critters to share a juicy treat in the children’s picture book Watermelon Party. The book has been steadily climbing towards success and passed over 100 positive reviews on Amazon this July.

Based on a true event that occurred at the animal sanctuary Rocky Ridge Refuge, Watermelon Party ties in themes of friendship and diversity. As one reviewer put it, “This sweet book highlights how everyone and every creature can get along and be peaceful, which the world needs more of right now!”

A Message of Diversity and Inclusion

The key message throughout Watermelon Party is that love is so powerful it transcends species — and that there is more than enough room for everyone to exist in harmony.

Modern Dog Magazine expressed, “Through charming words and illustrations, Watermelon Party tells the story of how, one day, all the animals came together, despite their vast differences, to enjoy a watermelon. The sweet lesson? Maybe we’re not so different after all.”

The writing style is light and fun and is designed to help children learn how to read. Author Jasmine Cabanaw spent twenty years working with children, including children with special needs, and her goal was to make the book accessible to children of all learning abilities. She filled the book with rhyming onomatopoeia words — which describe sounds — to help children process phonetics when reading aloud.

Cabanaw learned she achieved her goal when a mother told her that Watermelon Party was the first book her son, who has hearing loss, was able to read. “It was amazing for my kids to learn the ‘sound words’ and when we got to the end I couldn’t believe how hard my kids were giggling.”

Cabanaw worked closely with the illustrator, John Moriarty, to turn the series of watermelon photos into a picture book that would resonate with children in many different ways. For instance, they included Bazinga — a miniature horse with dwarfism and a broken leg — so that children with disabilities could relate to the illustrations. There is also a bonus game of “Duck, duck, goose!” designed for the youngest readers. A tiny duckling rides in on the first animal. In each illustration, the duckling is sitting on a different animal, until the very end, when the duck lands on Ryan the Goose (formerly known as Ryan Gosling). These illustrative details make Watermelon Party a book that keeps on giving.

A Sweet Book for An Even Sweeter Cause

Proceeds from book sales are donated to Rocky Ridge Refuge and go directly to helping the animals. Rocky Ridge Refuge is an animal sanctuary located in Arkansas and is home to animals of all kinds. Run by Janice Wolf, with the help of people who transport animals for rescue and adoption, Rocky Ridge takes in the toughest cases even when it seems like all hope has been lost.

Rocky Ridge also provides sanctuary for exotic animals, who are usually turned away at shelters due to unsuitable facilities for exotic species. The beautiful thing about the animals is that they all get along harmoniously despite their differences. There is Auntie Cheesecake the capybara (who acts as a foster mom to abandoned puppies), Crouton the tortoise, Squatch the wallaby, Barcode the zebra and a whole host of other interesting critters! Wolf saw her refuge rise to fame when her African Watusi steer, Lurch, claimed the Guinness Record holder for the largest circumference of horns of any animal in the world. This gained her a sizable following on social media, which is still loyal today.

While the book has raised several thousand dollars for the refuge so far, it is Cabanaw’s hope that book sales will become exponential and can support Rocky Ridge well into the future.

The book is available through Green Bamboo Publishing and can be found online at all of the large bookseller sites, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The hardcover version retails online at $18 and the softcover at $10. There is also an e-book version available for $2.99.

Want to join the cause? Help us spread the word by writing a book review, covering this story, or sharing to social media!

What People Are Saying

“My kids love this story, and as my oldest has gotten older, he loves knowing that it’s a true story about a real place and group of animals.”

“I bought this book for a friend’s child and she said it soon became his favorite book. They read it over and over again. She said he loved the animals and giggled the whole way through!”

“This beautiful children’s book has become my go-to baby shower gift. Love it!”

“A very cute book with an awesome storyline. My daughters first birthday was watermelon themed. We got this book to have guests sign and leave her a note instead of bringing cards.”

“The Paws to Read therapy dog took his copy to the Hartford Public Library where the staff was so enchanted by the story that they ordered a copy for every branch in the system. The message of friendship and sharing between very different animals is universal and beautifully done.”

See more reviews at



Green Bamboo publishes quality children’s books about animal rescue and animal tales. Jasmine Cabanaw founded Green Bamboo Publishing in 2014 as a way to raise funds for animal charities. She also wanted to provide education to children about caring for animals in a way that children could understand. She chose “Green Bamboo” as the name for the publishing company because this versatile grass enables hope, growth, and healing throughout the world.

Adopting An Older Cat: Gracie’s Second Chance

Gracie is one of the animals included in the upcoming children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian. This will be her picture-book debut and she will be helping children all over the world learn about rescue animals and the foster care system.

Adopting Gracie was one of the best decision’s Keila MacPherson has ever made. Keila wasn’t actively looking to adopt when she saw Gracie — she was just browsing — but when she saw this gorgeous calico cat she just knew they were meant to be in each other’s lives.

Keila adopted Gracie as an adult cat from the Humane Society, knowing very little of her past life with the previous owner. All she knew was that Gracie was surrendered because she needed surgery that the previous owners couldn’t afford. Gracie had contracted an infection in her urinary tract due to not being spayed or allowed to breed, which is not an uncommon occurrence in unspayed cats.

After bringing Gracie home, Keila immediately felt happier and that so much new joy was added to her everyday life. Gracie provides calmness when Keila has stress or anxiety. It’s like Gracie knows when Keila needs support and always comes over to lay on her lap when Keila needs it the most. Keila just feels happier with Gracie around.

This sentiment is definitely shared by Gracie, too. She’s a complete diva because she is a very spoiled and happy cat! She’s missing her bottom baby teeth, which causes her to have a little protruding bottom lip at times that looks like she’s pouting, which adds to her diva personality. Everyone who meets her loves this adorable look and points out how cute it is. Gracie takes full advantage of the attention and will purr like a monster truck instantly on receiving it.

Missing her bottom teeth doesn’t prevent Gracie from being playful — quite the contrary. She is a very chatty cat and loves being social. Her favourite kind of toys are sticks. Anything stick-shaped she loves to chase and bite. This includes her comb, nail files, pens and pencils, you name it! She also loves to snack and goes nuts when Keila opens a bag of chips. She specifically likes all-dressed flavoured chips, Goldfish crackers, and cookies. Certainly, her personality is as colorful as the markings of her calico coat.

Adopting An Older Cat

Keila always thought it was very important in her search for a furry companion to adopt adult animals. She feels like she is getting just as much joy from Gracie as she would have if she’d adopted a kitten, and there’s no doubt that Gracie is very happy now, too. Keila believes that everyone deserves a second chance at a happy life, including animals. Adopting rescue animals will give you a second chance at happiness, too, even if you didn’t know you needed it. There can be adjustment periods, you just have to be patient with them. Keila has found that it’s more than worth it.

Follow Gracie on Instagram at @_graceface_prrr

Small Turtle, Big Personality — Meet Tani the Red-Eared Slider

Tani is one of the animals featured in the children’s book High Paw, Super Sebastian! The story follows the journey of a foster puppy as he moves from home to home. The characters in the book are based on real animals.

“When I’m feeling shy,” said Tani, “I retreat into the safety of my shell to take a deep breath and muster some courage.”

By Yazmin Feliz

Tani the turtle understands human emotions such as happiness and sadness much like a dog or cat would. If I’m having a rough day, he will spend more time around me, will sit on my lap and snuggle, or lay in bed to watch Netflix. When I come home from school or work, he’s the first one to run up to me! Tani knows his name and responds to it when he’s called. I never knew just how smart turtles could be until I got Tani.

My journey with Tani began in 2001 when I was eleven years old and had just arrived in Bronx, NY with my mom. I had no friends and was asking my mom to let me get a dog. No cats or dogs were allowed in the apartment and so one day, we came across a street vendor selling baby turtles. My mom suggested we get one as a pet. It was a cold September and I remember feeling sad for the turtles sitting in that cold water.

Rescuing Tani

The vendor had turtles in these tiny containers with little water, ready to sell for five bucks each. On the ground was a large bucket with literally hundreds of turtles stacked on top of each other. I could see some missing eyes and limbs. It was like a swarm of turtles and I could only begin to imagine how miserable the ones at the bottom were, without being able to move, and possibly dead.

The vendor passed me Tani; I saw his little eyes glittering, almost begging to come home with me. A woman nearby told us to look for abnormalities to make sure we got a healthy turtle. Tani appeared to have a “dent” in his shell and the vendor quickly tried to hand us a different turtle. I refused and held onto the container tightly. Tani and I were on the way to a whole life together. He was sold to me without any instructions — no care directions, nothing.

Since the early days, Tani has always been very outgoing, curious, and intelligent. I would let him walk around the house and he learned every room. I could call him from the bedroom and he would come running from the kitchen and straight to me. We offered a feeding container in the bathroom and Tani would walk there in the morning for breakfast and go into the kitchen to nap under the sunlight that came in through the window.

Caring for a Rescue Turtle

In the years that followed, I figured out how to best care for Tani on my own and by searching online. I heard horror stories of people dumping these little baby turtles in the garbage or flushing them down the toilet because they heard the turtles carried salmonella.  I was astounded by this because by simply washing your hands, you can remove any bacteria the animal would carry and prevent yourself from ingesting anything harmful. It is actually illegal to sell turtles under 4 inches in length in the state of New York, I later learned, because children would place the turtles in their mouths.

As the years went by, Tani thrived and grew, and I became known as the “turtle girl.” Eventually, I created Rescue Friends Inc. People started giving me the turtles they did not want and I began rescuing mistreated turtles. Many of these discarded pet turtles end up in central park in NYC. Read more about that problem here.

There needs to be serious repercussions for illegal turtle sales but laws are not being enforced and these animals are left to suffer neglect and abandonment. Tani is a red-eared slider, the most popular pet turtle in North America. Yet these animals are deemed “disposable.”

Small Turtle, Big Personality

Tani is very friendly towards people but is jealous of other turtles. He dislikes most turtles because he wants all the attention to himself! He enjoys eating cooked ham on holidays and loves eating chicken and shrimp. He is very animated, for example, if you attempt to feed him something really healthy, like lettuce or carrots. He tends to bite them and spit them back out, then look at me almost shocked at how we could be offering something so vile. He’s got quite the personality, that’s for sure.

As Tani grew, I did, too! I remember when I was in middle school and I would bring my best friend Tani to school with me in a hat. I was eventually caught and the principal called my mother to come to pick up Tani. Tani made guest appearances in high school and even moved to my college dorm in upstate NY with me. When I got my first job upon graduation, he moved with me then as well. Tani has been there for me for most of my life’s accomplishments these past 19 years — late night studying, graduations, birthdays, you name it! Tani is truly the best friend a girl could ask for.


About Yazmin Feliz

I’m what you’d call a “nerd.” Since coming to NY with mom, I’ve worked hard, got scholarships for college, and am now a graduate student at Columbia University. I’m finalizing my PhD in mechanical engineering and developing low-cost medical ultrasound technology. The idea is to reduce the price point of medical ultrasound from thousands of dollars down to hundreds, in order to increase worldwide accessibility to life-saving care. It’s difficult to manage school and animal rescue/rehabbing but I try to make it work because I love what I do. Learn more on my LinkedIn.

About Rescue Friends Inc.

After receiving more than 15 rescued turtles over the years and also saving my first pigeon (Tutu) plus countless others from the streets of NYC, I decided to start a nonprofit: Rescue Friends Inc. We recently incorporated and my goals are to increase public awareness to reduce illegal turtle sales and to create laws that would protect pigeons.

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