Friday, June 5, 2015

Animal Bonding

 The greatness of a nation and its world progress
can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
(Mahatma Gandhi)

The connection between humans and animals is one of the most fundamental bonds that human beings experience.  As 'cave paintings' illustrate, humankind has interacted with the animal kingdom for tens of thousands of years.  From household pets to horses herding therapy dogs providing comfort to disaster and illness victims. Lives of humans and animals are bettered by our mutual bond.

Even an animal, if you show genuine affection
...gradually, trust will develop.

Gaining Trust
As an equestrian, my daughter discovered each horse had a distinct personality. The owner of the stables where she rode, one day brought in a off the racetrack... that was rejected due to being most 'skittish' at the starting gates.  Jim Bertin, with his knowledge of horses, visualized this mare as a 'jumper'.  Sundash trusted no one!  It was my daughter's task to lunge this spirited thoroughbred daily round and round the both directions to firstly reduce her spend time grooming talking to feeding her.  It was necessary to gain the horse's trust before any consideration of saddling her.  When comfortable with this, did Sundash allow the rider on her back.
With 'fences' set up in the arena, Sundash learned to jump...
then they proceeded outside to the jumping field. 
Reluctant at first, she was learning to trust her rider...and jumped like a deer...
soaring and clearing fences with sprightly leaps.

Sheba...Abused and Abandoned
We met at the Animal terrified she was of humans!  It was November when this cat realized  she must find food and shelter for the cold winter months approaching. The farm owner, unable to house the cat herself, called the Shelter to rescue it.  Upon examination, the Vet noted she had been abused...and probably ran away.  A strange looking tabby with grayish to charcoal fur...tufted ears and paws...bushy tail...and most anti-social, I was told.  The manager, wearing gloves removed her from the cage, setting her on the floor. I brought her home...talking to her in my car while she howled and moaned.  Inside my front door, opening the carrier, she proudly stepped the Queen of Sheba!  I introduced her to food, water and the litter box before she disappeared. I totally ignored her until she was ready to come to me.  Never sat on my lap...nor could I hold her more than a few seconds. She would lay at my feet or beside me...and at the foot of my bed overnight...content with companionship.
Surprisingly...she was a Maine Coon!

From Foster Home to Adoption
Lorraine became my neighbour a few months ago.  With her was 'Willie' ~ a Beagle for whom she cared as a 'foster dog'. They bonded and became compatible friends. She tells me, “Willie listens and understands…the basis of developing communication”. Such was their bonding, that Lorraine adopted Willie. “Learning to communicate with each other…makes life easier,” she further states. Daily, you will see Lorraine and Willie sharing their walks outside. For them both, it's a wonderfully rewarding companionship they share.  Lorraine asked me once if I hear Willie barking when she is gone without her…to which I replied, “She doesn’t bark…but if no TV is on, I do hear Willie quietly ‘moaning’.”

Until one has loved an animal,
a part of one's  soul remains unawakened.
(Anatole France)

Foxy 'Lady'
Their unlikely friendship was brief but unforgettable.
(written by Cathy Gauthier ~ published in ‘Our Canada’ Magazine)
Upon retiring, my husband, David, and I decided to move somewhere offering more wilderness.  Seven years ago, we bought 100 acres just south of Magnetawan, Ontario.  This is where a young red fox allowed me into her life...and where we shared many special moments. 'Lady', as I named her, first appeared along our backyard treeline.  Seeming almost nonchalant, she sniffed the low-lying leaves, casting long glances in my direction.  Our first encounter ended up with me throwing a few pieces of dog kibble her way and that expert nose of hers sniffing it out in the grass.

This was the start of a friendship that lasted a year and a half.  As our trust in each other grew, so did our interactions. The best part of our journey together was her joining me as I ate breakfast  or lunch  in my garden.  It was usually a mouthful for me...then a mouthful for her.  She even lapped up the last of the coffee in a cup I'd left lying on the grass. Lady visited almost every day and I worried if she didn't show up for a week or more...but eventually she always came back to say hello.

She was especially playful as the weather got colder...wanting me to run after her.  With her front legs outstretched, head low and haunches in the air, she would dare me to chase her. So, around the yard we'd run until a smell or movement caught her attention...then off she'd go to investigate.  As winter set in, I wondered if she was safe and if she was getting enough food on her hunts to stay alive. Then to my relief, there she'd be sitting on a snowbank in the backyard, waiting for a handout she knew I'd give her.  Just as this wonderful animal had quietly come into my life, she left the same way one day. Perhaps a beau beckoned?  I'll never forget the time we spent together ~ the beautiful red fox and I.

The Kiss
(submitted to me by Jeanne)
She is pregnant; he had just saved her from a fire in her house, rescuing her by carrying her out of the house into her front yard, while he continued to fight the fire.  When he finally got done putting the fire out, he sat down to catch his breath and rest.  A photographer from the Charlotte, North Carolina newspaper , noticed her in the distance looking at the fireman.  He saw her walking toward the fireman and wondered what she was going to do.
She didn’t care if he was dirty…she didn’t care if he smelled like burnt wood.
She only knew this man saved her life…and she thanked him
from her heart the best way she could.
As the photographer raised his camera, she came up to the tired man who had saved her life and the lives of her babies…and kissed him just as the photographer snapped this photograph:
Photo: The Doberman Pinscher approached her ‘saviour’…the  fireman (still clad in full gear with air tank on his back); removing  his helmet, he knelt forward to meet her.  She looked lovingly and affectionately into his eyes…then planted kissing licks upon his face…the fireman graciously accepted this canine gesture. And…people say animals are dumb???

An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.
(Martin Buber)

“My Dogs”
Tom sent me a photo of 4 dogs, wet from their play in the nearby winding woodland stream. Sitting side by side, posed on the gravelly shore, they appear to be a German Shepherd mix, Golden Lab, Border Collie mix and a Black Lab.  The owner of these dogs writes, “This morning I went to Centrelink to sign my dogs up for welfare. At first he lady said, ‘Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare’.  So I explained to her that my dogs are mixed in colour, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Dads are.  They expect me to feed them, provide for them with housing and medical care.  So, she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify.  My dogs get their first cheques next Friday.  DAMN, this is a great country!!!”

Merle Baird-Kerr…written May 25, 2015
Comments appreciated…email to:


  1. JEANNNE COMMENTS: "Great piece today, Merle."

  2. Reminds me of Dr. Jane Goodall, philanthropist,
    who observed the lives of African chimps for 3 years.
    She stated, "Other than humans, they are capable of thought, of learning and of living in a complex societies."
    They regarded her 'as one of them' as she lived in their world.
    Thank you, Jeanne for your continued interest.

  3. MEG WRITES: "I loved every word ~ made me 'teary' too.
    I wish everyone could understand 'the feeling of bonding'
    with these creatures, whether they be wild or tame."

  4. 'Bonding with animals' whether cat, dog, bird, hamster, horse or pet truly a rewarding experience. Our lives are enriched in giving and sharing with alternate animal species.
    I recall Joy Adamson's experience in raising an orphaned lion cub in Africa whom she named 'Elsa', before returning her to the wild.
    Your words are well appreciated, Meg.

  5. Very nice and respectful entry on the love of man and animal.
    We are blessed to share the earth together !


  6. Sherrie, gratefully I thank you for your entered comment.
    Our communication with animals and birds adds much love
    and colour to our daily lives...whether the summer mourning doves
    and winter's cardinals and chickadees...our best friends of dog or cat. Our lives are enhanced with chirps, tweets, playful yips, wagging tails or gentle meows and purrs. God bless us all.