Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Taming the Wild Beast

Taming animals is one of those skills I am really good at.  I just brought home a young Lovebird
who has never been handled before and it will be fun to see him (or her?) get used to me and become a pet. 

I have the patience required for this type of task; I can sit for hours watching an animal and allowing them the time needed to accept me.  I know I would have been as good as my hero Jane Goodall or DianeFossey, two primatologists whose work I admire.  When did I discover this talent to tame?

When I was ten years old my grandmother sent me across the country to Aberdeen, Washing to spend a few weeks with an uncle.  In the cluster of homes where they lived, I wandered around the property and came across a shaggy dog that was terrified of people.  I spent hours coaxing the dog to come to me and the satisfaction I felt when he did has stayed with me all of these years. 

When John and I owned Acres of Animals Pet Shop we purchased a Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo from a bird breeder.  “Use this one as a breeder, that’s all she’s good for,” we were told.  This poor thing was in the worst shape.  She was so petrified of people even looking her way she flew into the bars of the cage.  This behavior resulted, at some point, in her top beak-point breaking so it was blunt rather than sharp as it should be.  Her feathers were as mangy as that Washington dog’s; they were broken and every time she hit the cage, another would break and bleed.  I thought I’d see if I could tame her.

It took a few weeks.  I would turn out the lights so the room was dark (birds cannot see in the dark).  With thick gloves on I would reach into the cage and grab her as quickly as I could so she would not bolt and hurt herself.  Then, I would hold her against my chest speaking softly, stroking her.  Just like this little Lovebird she would wait for an opportune moment and try to get away but I would have a firm, yet gentle hold on her.  I did this routine several times a day.
One afternoon I was multitasking; I was holding “Pee Wee” (she was so small and fragile, that seemed a perfect name for her) while eating a bean burrito.  A small bean had landed just outside my mouth and Pee Wee stretched her neck and took it.  She ate that bean while sitting in my lap.  I was able to release my hold on her and from that moment on she never tried to escape from me. 

It was another one of those moments that sealed my love of animals and inspires me to reach out to them to show them some humans are worth knowing.
To this day I continue my efforts.  Just read North Las Vegas Cat Tales.

There’s a new cat on the property that I just know was left behind.  He meows when I talk to him but he is just not ready to accept that I won’t hurt him.  I have been able to get rather close to him when he feeds but he stays just out of reach of me.  I hope he allows me the opportunity to give him some contact; he looks haggard and sad (that’s called anthropomorphism, placing human emotions onto animals).  I’ll let you know if I am a success.

I have a few talents that I’m proud of, and being an Animal Tamer is one I am happy to possess.


Anonymous said...

Pee Wee - I remember how she made that sound "pee wee, pee wee". Lovely old bird. Lisa, you have such a special place in my heart for being so good to animals.

miruspeg said...

What a wonderful talent to have Lisa and I am so pleased you acknowledge your gift.
What a fabulous achievement to have the patience to make these creatures trust humans again.
Peggy xxxxxx