Animal Interactions

I’m super busy today and don’t really have time to write, but I may as well take a few minutes while I eat to mention a few things.

I booked Friday off as a vacation day and went to the zoo. It was a beautiful day, and – unfortunately – a PA Day. So there were tons of hairless apes and their offspring around to ruin my zen. And my zen was not that zen-y, as I have been rather beaten down emotionally as of late.

Anyway, I saw Hudson the polar bear I love for the first time in almost 4 years! I knew it was him pretty much immediately, and while he went about his own thing, he did turn that articulating nose of his my way a few times, which was more than enough to convince me to go with my plan of visiting him as often as possible while he’s here, in the hopes that he’ll get to know me a little again. We’ll see.

He is enormous now – like, bigger than his father at 1200-ish lbs! Kind of horrifying, really. And I admit to wondering if polar bears can actually weigh TOO much. Like, might he develop arthritis or heart problems after dragging around so much weight for a few years? Has anyone studied such things? It would have to be done with captive bears, because all of the bears in the wild are basically starving to death. Obesity is not an issue for them.

Anyway, aside from his insane size, Hudson is every bit the bear I know and love. His face, the way he walks and plays and his Mona Lisa smile – all exactly as I remember. And while I didn’t cry like I thought I would (I’m all over the emo map lately), I was very happy to see him. I hope to connect with him again over the winter. Maybe that will help me reconnect with everything else again.

‘Cause if the bear can’t do it, no one can!

But I suspect he can. πŸ™‚

p1110270

Volunteering has gone pretty well the past few weeks, too. I’m still taking it week to week, and things haven’t quite settled down yet from all the previous upheaval, but they are getting there. Most of the animals who are left seem to be doing better than they were at first, so that’s a good thing. There’s still a lot I’m not sure about, and I’m taking it week to week – maybe indefinitely – but yesterday was mostly good, so I will probably go this weekend, too.

I bonded with the skunks more yesterday. I actually took a few minutes to get down to their level and talk to them and pet Pepe (I won’t touch the others until they are more comfortable with me in general), and by the time I left, they all seemed fairly okay with me being in their space. We’ll see if that carries through to next week, but for now, it felt like a big step for us.

I also got to chat a bit more with Rapunzel the red lorrie, which was amazing. We’d had our first β€œconversation” a couple of weeks ago, and that small bond seemed to carry over to yesterday, as well. She came down to my level and even brought a pea from her food dish over to eat next to me while I talked to her. We’re not friends yet, I wouldn’t say, but there’s a bit of familiarity there now, at least.

The biggest surprise of the day was Willow the capybara. I have no idea…apparently she’s a bit horny right now, but for some reason she decided I was the one to love yesterday. We’ve not really interacted much before. I’ve pet her once or twice, and I usually say hello to her when passing by the enclosure she shares with the kangaroos, but I’d never even been in there until yesterday. I went in with the other volunteer, who was going to check their water to see if it needed freshening up before we left for the day. Willow came running over excitedly as soon as I got inside, and jumped up so her front feet were on my back (she would have knocked me over if it had been the front, I think – totally was not expecting that!), and then ran back and forth in front of me a few times before finally just standing still so I could scratch under her jaw, which she loves. As I did that, though, she started licking my forearm, then rubbing her teeth and cheek against it while drooling all over the place.

I guess she was marking me? I have no idea. Just that she was loving me and ignoring everyone else for a bit there.

I’ve never had an experience even remotely like that with her before.

Will be interesting to see how she responds to seeing me next time!

On Becoming Pack Leader

Had yet another incident this morning while out with Brody in which he lunged at another dog, almost without warning. This time, the other dog’s person was not understanding, in that he was not putting up with such behaviour and escorted his dog safely away immediately.

I felt terrible.

In talking about it with one of Brody’s treats ladies, who was with us at the time, I realized that one of his triggers might be the nose-to-nose greeting, particularly with dogs who are bigger than him. This was a puppy, but on the larger size, and she got right up in his face, right from the start, to which Brody said a whole lotta no. Apparently some dogs find that sort of greeting to be kind of stressful, and prefer to be approached from the side, instead. I noticed long ago that Brody shies away from direct frontal contact, even when it’s me reaching down to pet him. He prefers to ease into it, which I can fully understand.

Regardless, though, if things keep on like this, he’s going to get himself killed.

So naturally, I took to the internet, and delved into Cesar’s Way, website of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer.

Now, I’ve stated several times – even as recently as yesterday – that I am not a good leader. This holds true for being a Pack Leader to Brody, as well, but in that case, neither of us can afford for me to not be one any longer. Really, I should have looked things like this up before Brody and I even met, but I was looking up a whole whack of stuff, trying to be prepared, and a person can only anticipate so much. Especially when one has never really realized that one would have to be a Pack Leader. I am the opposite of Alpha, so I have a lot of learning to do, anyway, but I think I’ve already taken great strides in just realizing that I have to come at all of it a different way.

Kind of like some of the lessons Hudson the polar bear taught me, actually. I saw things differently because of him, and now I am learning to see things differently because of Brody. It’s just time for teaching and learning between the two of us to stop being a one-way street. Brody needs me to lead, and so lead is what I’ll do.

Or I am learning to do.

One of Cesar’s rules is to live in the moment, not regret the past nor fear the future. Dogs live in the moment, and I need to, as well. Which I have already been thinking recently, anyway, I just needed a nudge to commit to it more resolutely. So instead of talking about what I will do, I’m attempting to talk about what I am doing. Or at least trying to do.

There is a lot to learn. And everybody is different so Brody and I will of course need to figure things out based on who we each are, but more importantly, who we are together. I just wanted so badly for him to love me – we came together because we’d both lost his girl and needed some extra love. While I have no intention of holding back affection, of course, I do intend to step up and be the Pack Leader he deserves. I now understand that’s what will create an even more loving bond between us than we already have.

Getting to know him has exceeded my needs and hopes from the get-go. Now it’s time for me to exceed his needs, too.

Love you beyond reason or measure, Brodykins. Time for us to both learn what that really means.

We got this.

13344554_10156989341020402_7901925740638481266_n