While driving down a local road, I noticed two young raccoons that had been run over. Then I noticed their mother sitting on the road shoulder. She was desperately trying to get to her babies, clinging to the futile hope that they might be saved. In that brief moment I saw the grief not only in her eyes but energetically surrounding her. As surely as a human parent grieves the loss of a child (or children in this case), this mother was sitting vigil over her offspring.
I don’t know how long her vigil lasted. When I passed that way again, hours later, she was gone. The carcasses of her children remained. I know that when she left, her grief hung over her like a cloud. She would carry it with her in the short term at least.
It’s been my observation that most animals grieve a short time and then get on with their lives. Survival is uppermost in their minds which provides a pretty good distraction. When I chat with them, they will talk about their grief if it’s fresh, otherwise it doesn’t come up unless I specifically ask.
You may be wondering why I am musing on this topic. It is because when I mentioned it to my husband he had trouble conceiving of animals grieving. He admittedly had not given it much thought. But after living with an animal communicator, Moi, lo these many years I found it surprising. It got me to thinking that maybe his was probably the attitude of a great many other animal lovers, so on behalf of the animals I wanted to bring it up for your consideration. If it results in a more compassionate response to your animal friend when they have a loss that is enough.
Have you ever noticed how our pets subtly train us? They are way more intelligent than we realize. When you step back and analyze, it becomes obvious they are using behavior modification techniques, and quite effectively. They are so good at it that often we just go with the flow with no awareness that our pet has just shaped our behavior.
I was pondering all of this after a recent incident with Jasmyn, our youngest filly. She is really enjoying the new run-in shelter I set up for the winter and spends more time there than the rest of the herd. They are not crazy about the acoustics and freak out every time the snow goes sliding off the roof. Jasmyn is the sensible one and does not let such trivialities bother her.
Being the brainy girl that she is, Jasmyn decided that it would be a great idea if I were to feed her in the run-in so she could eat undisturbed. She put her plan into action simply and effectively. When it came feeding time she left the herd and went into the run-in and waited. She knew I would be coming there to put the buckets away and see her waiting. I did and was happy to feed her there. Step one of her plan was completed.
The next day as I was feeding I looked around and noticed Jasmyn was missing. I called out to her and heard her high-pitched whinney in return (she’s the vocal one in our herd). She was waiting in the run-in again. So of course I went in and fed her there marveling at her resourcefulness. She now has me trained to feed her in her own private dining room and I do it gladly. Step two completed, plan fully implemented, behavior modification complete.
What will she come up with next?
Thank you to focusorganic.com for hosting Volume 73 of the “All Things Eco” blog carnival.
Pet Chatter has moved to another server. It should have been a seamless move, but ah that one choice to rename a folder…
If you’re here that’s all that matters. Please bookmark the new address and by all means please share your thoughts and questions.
Looking forward to lots of interesting dialog in the months to come.
Debbra, The Pet Chatter
Thanks to Ellie Walsh for including The Story of the Well in her carnival, Living the Law of Attraction.
Thanks to Janet Roper for hosting the October 2008 Carnival of the Horse and including my series on colic.