Jumbo update 7 December 2012
Animals have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child my parents always had vast quantities of animals in the home from the domestic animals such as dogs and cats to the farm animals such as sheep, goats, cattle ,horses, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs to the orphan wild animals such as monkeys, genet cats, duikers, bush babies etc that shared our lives for a short time until they went back into the wild.
My mother loves telling stories of how as a 5 year old I had a duck that I had looked after from a young duckling as its mother had died who used to follow me every where and when she complained that Donald really should not come into the house as he made a huge mess I negotiated with my nanny to put nappies on Donald and wash them when she washed my baby brothers nappies so there was no more mess in the house and Donald didn’t have to stay outside or how Baa Baa the little black goat used to sleep in my bed with me and swing on the swing with me or how Ticky the bush baby used to let me bath him quite happily but as soon as he was out of the water and dried he would go to find my mother and give her a sharp nip as he somehow knew that she was the one who insisted he had a weekly bath as he did get rather smelly.
When I grew up and left home I continued the tradition of rescuing animals both wild and domestic as have my children and now my grandchild is also starting to learn about animals – rather like the ele matriarch who teaches her daughters, granddaughters etc about life and living.
Over the years the animals in my life have taught me a lot and I have gradually become better at reading their body language. Moses was probably the most competent communicator – grabbing my nose and pulling it towards him was a very clear signal to “look at me and pay attention you are supposed to be looking after me” for example but each and every animal does try to communicate with us. Dogs wag their tails and their whole body tingles with excitement when they are happy, they drop their tails down and crouch their body if they are afraid, duikers wag their tails and butt at you when they are hungry – I could go on forever with different examples.
I have spent many hours watching how animals interact with each other and watch how they communicate with each other – often with a rather subtle look or posture to say “ move out of my space” or “let’s be friends”. None of this is new and more and more people are starting to recognize this and have better relationships with their animals as a result one very well known example is horse whispering where trainers use the same techniques to reward or punish a horse in the same way that the leader of the herd would use and wherever possible I try to emulate the communication that animals would use with their own species to communicate with them. A lot of guestures are easily understood across all species for example “the look” that Moses gave the dogs where he lifted his head up, stared at the offending dog and then took a step forward whilst pushing his head forward sharply was very easily recognized as a “get out of my way” and is exactly the same as horses do and very similar to the look we would give a stranger invading our space.
Animals are very sensitive to tension, fear, love or any other emotions that we feel and they respond accordingly if we can just be a bit more aware of the signals we are giving out and a bit more conscious of not invading their space so many accidents where animals are blamed for causing harm to people could be avoided.
It is never too early or too late to start learning to communicate with animals which is why now that she is able to hold her head up we have started to actively get her to interact with the animals and yesterday she had her first “ride” on Mt Bo Jangles, sitting on his back she can start to feel his body language and visa versa and this is the start of animal human communication.
Moses had a very strong bond with Catherine, was very protective over her and made sure that he came to greet her every morning, in fact we quite often laughed and said the two of them were probably communicating and wondering why us adults were so slow at recognizing what they were asking for. Catherine will probably never remember her interaction with Moses but I am sure that subconsciously it will affect her future relationships with animals and as we hope that Jumbo Foundation will continue for a very long time she needs to be ready to take over one day.
Our barn foundations are now finished and this weekend we start making bric