Once upon a time, at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a woman named Cheryl Allison from Turtle Creek, Texas.
Like all of us, she was dealing with a lockdown. She couldn't see her parents, her friends, and it was a very lonely time. The only thing she could do to maintain her sanity, like many of us, was walk.
So, Cheryl took a walk one day through her neighborhood park near a pond, where she encountered a goose. The goose ran right up to her and started to follow her around.
Thinking it was just happenstance, Cheryl decided to take another walk on another day, and wouldn't you know it, the goose ran up to her again and followed her around.
She decided to name him Honk, and every day she would go to the park, and call out his name and Honk would come swimming over, exit the pond and follow her on her walk. When she sat down, Honk would be right next to her.
She started to document these encounters on Instagram and Honk would always be standing next to her, looking over her shoulder, nibbling on her arm or crawling right into her lap, and occasionally falling asleep right next to her. It was like he had known her forever and they were the best of friends.
These posts gave me so much to smile about during the hardest part of the pandemic, they were just so sweet to watch and it was obvious that there was a deep connection and love between them despite the fact they were different. It became a phenomenon, with thousands of people all over the world checking out Honk and Cheryl's adventures on Honk's Instagram. A video from The Dodo about Honk and Cheryl has been viewed more than 40 million times on YouTube and Facebook.
She found out from others in the neighborhood that someone had dumped Honk at the pond and he had been living there ever since, and Cheryl believes that maybe Honk was drawn to her because he looked like someone who once raised him. Since Honk was not 'wild' he didn't know how to fly away to find himself a new home. So Cheryl set her sights on finding a sanctuary for Honk so that he would be safe for the rest of his life.
She found a wonderful sanctuary in Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Hutchins, Texas.
In 2020 they took Honk in and he thrived there, living his best life, having frequent visits from Cheryl, and even finding himself a girlfriend! Meanwhile, Cheryl wrote a children's book about her and Honk's relationship and she was working on a documentary about their story called HONK, which is set to premiere in Dallas in March.
Earlier this week, Cheryl visited Honk at the center, and he was a little more clingy than normal, she says. After she left, staff say Honk walked over to his favorite pile of leaves for a nap as he normally did. Sometime later a staff member walked by him and Honk didn't move, she realized that Honk passed away peacefully in his sleep.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Cheryl says that Kathy Rogers, founder of the center checked Honk out and determined that:
"Honk was probably much older than we expected. He was probably already up there in his very late teens. He passed away in the most beautiful, peaceful way, in the sun, surrounded by his friends. I got to spend two hours with him literally 90 minutes before he died. Maybe he knew. I have to tell you, he couldn't get close enough to me."
Cheryl took to Honk's Instagram to let all of their fans know of the heartbreaking news. I messaged Cheryl today to ask her permission to use a photo for this blog and she told me that she wanted people to know that Honk's Instagram will remain with updates on the documentary and she will also share other stories from Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
She told the Dallas Morning News that the situation with her and Honk raised awareness about the epidemic of people dumping domestic geese and ducks in parks and ponds, and while his death is heartbreaking, Honk:
"...inspired love and joy and hope to people worldwide. The sadness that we all feel is the price we pay for letting these precious creatures into our lives. All fairy tales have to come to an end. But a new chapter is beginning. Honk is physically not here, but his spirit remains."
It's obvious that a story like Cheryl and Honk helped us through some very tough times with a very simple message, enjoy the moment.
Rest in peace, Honk...and thank you Cheryl for sharing your story with all of us. If you'd like, you can remember Honk with a donation to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
Check out all the info about HONK, the documentary film HERE.