Rasta-my 2nd horse. My first horse was a lesson horse, a well trained mare named Princess. Chosen. But Rasta, Rasta was a gift. When I was ready to learn, Rasta arrived. He wasn’t very socialized, but over time we managed to grow close. He started showing symptoms of that stupid disease dsld/espa about 3 years ago so we quit riding. He held his own so well, I figured he’d be around for years. Two weeks ago he tweaked his “good” leg. We worked on it, but it was time to go. It was a beautiful day. I had given myself time. I had given him time. I had confirmed with him that he was ready. I spent my weekend with him, and two evenings this week. Last night we were both in sync. Connected. It was nice. Today I took off work to spend more time just sitting with him. A storm arrived with the vet so that kept the whole process at a slower, more comfortable pace as we awaited the front. She could just observe during that time. Then a little later after the for sure, for sure final decision was made, the rain came down so we could wait a bit for it to pass through. Then the sun came out again. It was a good day to die and Rasta handled it like the champion he was. He was a great horse. He guarded the entire 80 acres of farm always knowing what was going on in every section. He didn’t like being futzed with, but he always liked mechanical stuff. He was interested in how things worked. The manure spreader and the float valves fascinated him. He thought they were cool. He liked things neat and he loved fresh water. (a shout out to the farm who takes great care of that stuff!) He learned to “kiss” years ago and always had a kiss for me even on days when he had no interest in being caught to go do something. He’d just stretch his neck out a little farther for that kiss lest he get too close. Rasta also was a nice horse. He was in charge of his field, but he was not a field marshall. He led quietly and let Booger harass him to no end until he’d finally have enough. One little “HEY” out of him and that would be that. Poco, my old quarterhorse on senior feed needs to be separated into a pen two or three times a day to eat. The other 3 have their “places” during this time and everyone knew where these places were. Rasta would often get slightly out of place just to give Poco an excuse to lay down the law and feel powerful. It was wonderful. Truly. I will miss him. I was blessed to have him in my life, I was blessed with these last few weeks with him and I was blessed with how beautifully he left this world today. UPDATE: I can’t believe I forgot his song. Princess (see below) had her song by Wylie and the Wild West “On a Good One”. Rasta’s song is Manolito because Rasta had heart and the beat of this song is his.
We all know how important socialization is in the life of our dogs. Now they are finding out just how socialization differs between dogs and wolves.
Dogs and wolves share so many characteristics, but they are, in the end very different. Why?
OMG I love this dog! He needed to move on tonight though and I have a stomach ache. Tap and his sister Buffy came to live me while their owner worked in Iraq. I fell in love with them both, but Tap stole my whole heart. When he left to go live with his dad well,……. lets just say it was rough on me. I like to think it was rough on him too. We needed to live next door to each other but life doesn’t always work the way we need it to does it?
Let’s talk Tap. Sweet, sweet dog. Always looking to be his best and make you happy. He was joyous and thoughtful. His sister is such a personality I think sometimes Tap felt lost in it but he was always there being her rock. He’d keep an eye on her and support her in ways that let her shine fully. By doing this he himself shone. He was like the manager behind the famous actress who really got her where she is. Buffy going to be a sad, sad girl.
As is his dad. I’m so sorry. Again, we should live next door to each other.
I will never forget the first time I let Tap off leash without his dad around. The beautiful stretched out run of a shepherd/lab as fast and as big as he could go with a beautiful arc way past where I thought I was going to lose him. He turned and came circling right on back.
At 85 lbs he was a complete cuddle bunny crawling as close as he could get. Sometimes you’d be watching tv or something and just feel love emanating from somewhere and you could look and there was Tap enjoying just thinking about being near you. His dad shared a story about him last week, putting a paw on his arm. He (his dad) felt that Tap was saying, “thanks for taking such good care of me”. Sadly it was good care but needed to end today. And I know his dad made the right decision for Tap because he would never make a wrong one. His dad loves him dearly. And oh my goodness did Tap love his dad. He used to come to Colorado during his leave. One time myself and the dogs met him in downtown Denver. Buffy saw her dad and was happy. Tap didn’t notice until dad was right there. OH MY Goodness!!! The dog screaming that could be heard was amazing. I wish I had taken some video of that. He could scream with such joy!!
Tap and Buffy lived with me for a year and a half. I had to keep a “wall” between us so that I could do that temporary job. As that time passed it became more and more impossible especially with Tap. Sheesh, this is rough and this dang blog is becoming the go to place to spew when an animal breaks my heart. Tap has done it to me again.
After my own dog Merlin died I liked to think of him running through a field of flowers so I add this flower photo of Tap. I know you’re in heaven. I don’t know what’s there, but since you are there, I suspect all your favorites including unlimited kibble, piles of snow, your grandpa, Merlin, and tons of love. You will be sorely missed Tap. Please drop in and visit whenever you can. I love you.
We humans don’t always recognize what a threat we are to wildlife. In a study done with macaques at a National Park in Morocco, scientists looked for specific evidence of stress these animals felt from humans. They looked at both obvious signs of nerves and physiological signs of stress. They studied how the macaques reacted in three different situations: during feeding, during normal human tourist behavior such as taking photos and during aggressive human behavior such as someone throwing something at the macaques.
They see above their heads.
Some things are just cool.
Unlike humans, bees have a dorsal visual field that enables them to avoid obstacles above their heads. Until now, it was not known whether this helped them to control their flight speed. Recent research by biorobotics specialists at the Institut des sciences du mouvement (CNRS / Université de la Méditerranée) confirms that it does. Bees have been shown to adjust their speed according to obstacle proximity, whether such obstacles are in the horizontal or vertical plane. They achieve this through perceived optic flow, especially from overhead.
Goodbye Mrs. Princess.
My Princess. I’ll never forget the day I first met her. After a trip to Australia with my sister where I convinced her to go horseback riding – I decided that was what I wanted to do. When I returned home, the city’s recreation department offered horseback riding lessons! Excellent. I signed up. The first day the instructor mentioned that within 6 months 60% of us would have a horse. I knew I was not one of those people. Hah!
6 months later, I drove into the farm and saw a horse and her foal standing in a pen. I thought to myself, “Self – if you ever get a horse, get one that color.” Then as I went in for my lesson the instructor pulled me aside and said, “I have just the horse for you!” and she directed me out to that mare with that right color.
She picked me. I know that. She trained me. I know that too. I would go out to the farm and just stare at her in her pen and hope she’d look my way after I first got her. It was amazing to be a horse owner!! I loved it. It took a while to be comfortable with it, but I remember once being told that “Princess can’t do that” (get into a canter from a standstill). Oh really? Princess had as big a stubborn streak as I do and by George, we did it!
Princess was definitely a challenge. If I didn’t do things right, she’d tell me. We fought a lot. Now, when I’m crying, I don’t remember why. She’d want to go home and I’d want to go forward. She’d want to run from mosquitos and I’d want a quiet horse. She’d suggest I was looking at her wrong and I just wanted to pet her. We also got along great. She could be a cuddle bunny of a horse and Friendship training really brought that out in her. It was hard to trust a “kiss” from her knowing that she had a past that included nipping. But just three days ago after having been gone a whole week I went out to the farm. I had missed her and suggested a little ride. She let me hug on her neck as we cruised down the driveway. It felt great. She had missed me too.
A few years ago one of her old owners who had grown up on her found us. She came out to visit and Princess definitely delighted in seeing her. Yet Princess kept looking at me. “I don’t have to leave, right?” She was happy at Shady Lawn Farm with her boyfriend Rasta. I remember when I first moved her to the farm. She had spent her time in a small paddock with 10 other mares. At night she’d go into a stall. I wasn’t real sure how life would work with 5 acres to roam and just a 3 sided shed for shelter. Ooh – she loved life this new way. I don’t believe I ever saw her happy until she moved to Shady Lawn. She had been born in Kentucky so hopefully she got some time on blue-grass, but by the time I came along she hadn’t known the freedom of pasture. I cannot picture having a horse any other way now.
Oh boy did Princess love Rasta. Sometimes he found her annoying when she’d be in heat and would not leave him alone. She liked to lean into his side and just touch him. I wonder if I missed a sign of illness. She hadn’t been in heat in quite a while. When she started really crashing tonight she whinnied her goodbyes to Rasta. That sound will remain in my ears forever.
You always wonder with your pets. Did I do all I could for them? Did I exercise her enough? Was she happy with our relationship? Tonight, should I have been able to tell it was time earlier? Should I have attempted to get her in the trailer? Should I have called the doctor earlier? I hope Mrs. Princess knows how much I owe her and while I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know all the things, I hope she knows how much she was loved. Cripes, even those she wasn’t all that fond of had a very soft spot in their heart for Mrs. Princess.
She was all character all the time. A one of a kind gem who will be terribly missed.
I love you Princess. Rest in Peace.
UPDATE: I didn’t mention what a good horse Princess could be. For a few years (Post Carol/pre fly quarantine) she was the go to solid horse of the ranch. That’s why this is her song.
This link is to a page of position statements put out by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. The one on dominance has a bad link, but might be better by the time you read this. It is a position statement on the use of dominance theory to modify behavior in pets. In basic terms it says “quit listening to those people on TV who need to prove in one hour that they can modify your pet’s behavior for the better”!
The paper actually says a lot more than that and is well worth your time to read.
It discusses the difference between dominance, which sets up a relationship that will need to be continually retested, and/or a relationship that can increase aggressive behaviors due to fear issues, and leadership, which sets up a relationship of willing partners.
The paper discusses how dominance/submission might work in the animal kingdom. One animal may be “dominant” or alpha, but when that animal’s back is turned a lower ranking animal will do whatever he/she wants or needs to do. Their example included a herd of cattle. The alpha bull will not allow the beta bulls a chance to mate. However, when alpha is out of sight or far away, the subordinate animals will go ahead and mate. In other words, you may clearly be the alpha of your pack at home, but when your back is turned, the furniture is fair game.
This position statement is a fantastic new tool for animal communicators to keep close at hand. Often times we are asked about “bad” or inappropriate behaviors. There can be many reasons for such behaviors including medical, animals who take on their owners “stuff” (hear Mary Savage Tibbitts), or some event that happens when we’re not at home. But a common reason for inappropriate behavior is the positive reinforcement pets receive from us without us even being aware of what we are doing!
Examples are everywhere. Counter surfers will often end up with a treat of some sort that we accidentally left out just that one time. Jumpers can get closest to their loved one by getting nearest to their face. Leash pullers have more and longer access to interesting smells. And barkers eventually get someone to talk with them – even if it is in a loud voice!
It’s tricky because our pets (and our dogs especially) watch us so closely that we don’t even know what it is that they are learning from us. I go and visit my horses daily. Before I go I, use the restroom, check the lock on the front door, put on my boots, ask the dog about going outside, grab some carrots and a dog cookie, ask the dog to kennel up, leave the cookie and then leave. I no longer need to ask the dog to kennel up because he has learned all of these steps and goes to his kennel as he sees me move to lock the front door. And honestly I must use the sentence “I think I’ll go see the ponies now” a lot because when I say that, no matter when I say it, Axel goes to his kennel.
That is an example of how a dog will pay close attention to patterns. Horses will do the same. If every time you arrive to visit your horse you park, grab a halter, call your horse, put on the halter, walk him/her to the hitching post, groom, roundpen, then ride but your horse does not like to work in the round pen, it will not take long before your horse will no longer enjoy being groomed. Given more time he/she will quit coming when called or will walk away as you go to get a halter.
When we communicate with pets the two competing relationship patterns noted in the position statement can help us get to the gist of problems. Is the relationship one of dominance/submission? Is the pet owner giving out rewards for unwanted behavior without realizing it? And finally – how can the problem be solved?
They will probably be passing laws to set up some “model” cities with free market reforms as a test to see how it will work there.
The germination of model cities for Honduras started in Honduras. The reason is not hard to discern. Reformers have spent years trying to liberalize the economy only to be thwarted by special interests.
As Mr. Sánchez, who also worked in the government of President Ricardo Maduro (2002-06), puts it: “For me, for a very long time, it has been obvious that with the current system, we are going nowhere.” The young lawyer says that almost a decade ago he began thinking about whether it would be possible to designate a small place where all the pro-market reforms would be law. He had no doubt that such a zone would grow fast and that the ideas behind it would spread.
Before sending flowers and candy, before offering back rubs and foot massages, and before scheduling the restaurant, be certain to read this link to what other animals do for their valentines.
Love darts and flowers, picking off bugs and lassoing with private parts can all be a part of the fun used to attract a mate. He or she who wins this game, will have their DNA win the future and maybe some companionship in old age, so let the games begin!
For general hints, I like how the curator at The Natural History Museum of London, Tate Greenhalgh, put it. “Any sense that an animal has can be exploited for seduction”. Let’s review:
*Hearing: For humans, soft romantic music and gentle serenades will work. If you’re a haddock, humming will help you get the ladies. But be careful in the eastern United States. There, the toadfish hums so loudly that houseboats can feel reverberation. Objects of your affection may not be up for still more humming.
*Sight: For humans, a silky teddy, a clingy dress or a nice suit paired with fine china and candlelight are part of our mating rituals. For the red velvet mite, a male will “paint” a trail with silk enticing the female to follow the beauty of the lines to the end where a pile of sperm awaits.
*Touch: For humans a kiss or a caress may lead you to bliss. The article doesn’t mention mutual grooming among horses or chimpanzees, but we know from previous studies that those touches are prize winning.
*Smell: Flowers and perfume do the trick amongst humans. For male porcupines a nice spray of urine over their object of desire seems to be attractive.
*Taste: Chocolates! Even for nonhuman animals, the chocolate tradition continues in gifts of food amongst dance flies and grebes.
Enjoy this week of love and be sure to give the animals you love an extra piece of affection in honor of St. Valentine too!
I just finished reading The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant. I really liked it. The book focused on the rehabilitation of the dogs that were impounded after the Michael Vick dog-fighting ring was broken up. Even though I am an avid reader of the news, I tend not to follow stories like this when they’re happening because they are about local miseries that leave me feeling horrible about people and helpless.
Thankfully not everyone feels that way as the real story behind the story was about the people who stood up and went to help those dogs.
Fighting dogs are usually treated as criminals and are often euthanized after being impounded. Because of Michael Vick’s notoriety, people from across the country stepped up for the dogs. The dogs were given the status as victims of a crime, which they were. Each dog was treated individually and each was given the help that they needed specifically. As each individual human being deals with stress uniquely, while at the same time giving doctors some guidelines that can be useful to help those in need, so it was with these dogs.
Each dog was unique with individual traumas and each dealt with their situation in their own way. While knowledge has been gained over time on how to deal with trauma in animals in general, at the same time every individual dog in this case had specific needs. Some took a month to “get over” their time at Vick’s and then their time in facilities, while others have been ordered to live at Best Friends (an animal rescue group in Utah) for the rest of their lives.
Out of 51 dogs impounded, only one was euthanized due to her aggressive behavior that she just could just not overcome. Previously in these types of cases they all would have been put down. Most of these dogs now have homes with other dogs and all such dogs have received their Canine Good Citizen Certificate.
Because of their story, other fighting dogs have been given the chance to be treated as the individuals that they are. From the book:
That of course has been the point from the beginning of the effort to save the dogs—sweeping generalizations do not apply. From the start the rescuers argued that it was wrong to look at the group of fifty one pit bulls saved from Vick’s yard and simply say “They’re irredeemable, do away with them. “ No one would ever make any such sweeping statements about people.
The book was an uplifting read about just how good people can be, even while being reminded about how rotten people can be. Those people who took their time, spent their money put their families through massive changes to help these dogs are living saints. I am grateful for their inspiration and recommend this book.