Monday, May 28, 2012

Don't... Even... Move

You should probably watch this about 50 times in a row and then once every morning. Note the feathers like breaking waves at the top of each wing.
Thank you to Carol for the link.

Didn't Get the Memo

 The extraordinary scene was captured by photography student Casey Gutteridge at the Santago Rare Leopard Project in Hertfordshire. The 19-year-old, from Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, who was photographing the leopard for a course project, was astounded by the mouse's behavior.

He said: 'I have no idea where the mouse came from - she just appeared in the enclosure after the keeper had dropped in the meat for the leopard. She didn't take any notice of the leopard, just went straight over to the meat and started feeding herself.' 

'But the leopard was pretty surprised - she bent down and sniffed the mouse and flinched a bit like she was scared. In the meantime the mouse just carried on eating like nothing had happened...

But even a gentle shove does not deter the little creature from getting her fill... 'It was amazing, even the keeper who had thrown the meat into the enclosure was shocked - he said he'd never seen anything like it before.'  

Project owner Jackie James added: 'Sheena batted the mouse a couple of times to try to get it away from her food.'  But the determined little thing took no notice and just carried on.'

Sheena was brought in to the Santago Rare Leopard Project from a UK zoo when she was just four months old.  She is one of 14 big cats in the private collection started by Jackie 's late husband Peter in 1989.  The African Leopard can be found in the continent's forests, grasslands, savannas, and rainforests.

The mouse continued to eat the leopard's lunch while the leopard continued to watch. 

Thank you to both Carolyn and Dana for the story.. 

Leave it alone

It is my consistent  luck, combined with a bit of conscious noticing, that when I am particularly perplexed, something often comes from the animal world to provide a little perspective. I was saved again recently when Ann and I had the extraordinary honor of housesitting for our friends in a small town whose location I shall keep secret so that it remains small.
I swear this town has been frozen in time, circa 1964. The streets are wide so kids and dogs roam them, it's right by the Sound, there is one store, and throughout a whole long weekend I did not hear one grass blower. Even the occasional lawnmower seemed to blend in with the sound of the wind and the water and happily buzzing bees.
We found ourselves there because of the odd phenomenon that if you know how to give rectal valium to a dog your stock goes up—at least with certain dog owners. And so we came to be hosted for a lovely weekend by dog Fox and cat MC.
MC let us share the loft.
While we were a little nervous to be on deck for a dog with seizures again, we also knew too well what it’s like to try to get away for awhile when your dog might need rectal valium quite suddenly. All we knew was that Fox had a brain tumor that had caused two seizures, but they'd been easily traceable to heat and stress. Fox merely had a little trouble walking, was all. The house turned out to be a log cabin, by the water, and within two hours' drive. We were sold.
When we wandered up the driveway we were greeted by loud barking. We grinned and entered the yard where a white dog leapt to his feet, fell, lurched in our direction, fell, then lurched a few feet more before we simply came to him, calling his name, letting him smell us. I have to admit we also did the classic double-take to each other over his head: what have we gotten ourselves into?
That night after dinner Holly took us around the neighborhood with Fox. Every 10 feet or so she’d haul him up by his harness when he fell, or head him off if he got too near a ditch. All the while she nonchalantly kept up a steady patter about his care, the neighborhood, the history of the town, her cabin, and so on. The looks Ann and I shared over Fox’s head grew into alarm as we watched our strange procession cover a square mile of town, all fraught with ditches, cars, and fading light.
That night we crawled into bed in the upstairs loft with MC, with a window slightly open “so you can hear Fox in his doghouse if he has a seizure.”
We spent the night fitfully, relieved that Holly wasn’t leaving until the next morning, and clearer now why she’d demurred when we’d offered to host Fox at our own house. 
The next day as the school bus sounded in the street, Fox leapt up from his spot in the yard, lurched and fell and lurched and fell all the way out the gate to the middle of the street to greet the kids. After the bus left, Holly did, too, explaining the rest of the routine: snack then walk then sleep then snack then walk then dinner. We were puzzled as to why there was such a routine and why she seemed not to have much hand in how that went.
From the minute Holly left Fox patiently trained us. We watched him fretfully, wincing every time he fell, stunned that we could actually hear his jaw clack when he hit the pavement. Then up he’d go, lurching off, smelling everything, clearly the alpha dog about town. 

That can’t be much of a life, I thought to myself.
The poor dog, Ann thought to herself. 

A one...

a two...

...and a three!

Off we went, or rather trailed, because it soon became clear that Fox had his entire day well planned. His route was clear, and our picking him up by his harness was merely a luxury that he appreciated but could do without easily.
He never took us on the same walk twice. He’d been a feral dog and knew every inch of the territory, which turned out to be pretty large. What’s more, everyone in the neighborhood knew him and they gazed at us curiously if a bit protectively (of Fox). We figured we’d see a few pitying shakes of the head when we met the neighbors but on the contrary, everyone greeted him with gusto and loved to tell us their part of his story. Over the course of a few days I learned exactly “what kind of life” Fox has:
    Dance up the street, get treats from human friends, sniff the bush where the new dog pissed, poop at the neighbors' house, investigate car—fur friend!—turn the corner using the entire intersection, drag humans up the street to the farm, listen to turkeys, smell turkeys, crest the hill in a long, diagonal lope, sniff the ditch–fur friend!—duck into the bushes for a pee, human friend—treats!—turn around slowly, training Ann and Caitlin to walk on either side for balance—cat!—play chicken with the cars, new yard, fence down, chickens! my gate! trundle in, water bowl brought up to mouth, nuther treat, find sunbeam, get scratched behind ears, pass out for a long nap, lurch out gate, pee, return and flop down, legs massaged, find shade, sleep all day—school bus!
I am not ready to stop sniffing... 

Our routine was set by the second morning. After the long, stimulating walk Ann and I were on our own for the day to nose around the beach, find hidden paths and learn all we could from the local newsletter posted at the one store. It took me awhile to discern what exactly was different about the signs of life from those in a big city:
When something was repaired, there was only a new board, not a whole fence. Things didn't "match." Nothing was "perfect." Yards were in progress, cars might be on their last legs but were used, and in interesting configurations, neighbors stood in the street talking to one another while cars waited. And kids were in abundance, not one accessorized with ear buds or gazing down at something digital. A pile of dirt in the middle of one street slowly disappeared over the course of several days, everyone just drove around it.
The thing that had perplexed me before I left: Aging, injury, brains letting go, illness, loss, the usual things I have no control over. At the other end of the weekend a mantra emerged: leave it alone. Everything I’d been grinding away at had to do with trying to change the course of life, of nature, of time. And when you simply stop doing that stuff, what kind of life does that leave? Quite a real one. 
Thank you Fox, MC, Holly, and John for a wonderful weekend. We can’t wait to come back. 

Ready to go.