Friday, January 08, 2010

Animal Expressions and Actions

If you live around animals long enough you learn to interpret their facial expressions, body language and the amazing tasks they perform. The reason I thought of this is because yesterday I walked into our bedroom and our dog Charlie, a greyhound lab cross, was sitting on the floor and by her expression I immediately knew she had done something wrong so I started to look around the room to see what she had done all the while she was lying closer and closer to the ground, her eyes down and her ears pulled way back, then I spotted it. She had been lying on the bed, which is a definite no-no. I could see the mark on the bed and felt it and it was still warm. When she heard me open the door she jumped down in the hope not to get caught. On asking her “did you do that?” she couldn’t get any closer to the ground. I told her nicely not to do it again but to her it meant don’t get caught next time. As a family we always raised Great Danes and they love to put their posterior on chairs and beds while their feet remain on the floor, it is a trait that runs in a few breeds other than Danes. The reason I bring this up is because my father showed me a cartoon once that showed a man arriving at the door with his brief case and a Great Dane blowing on the sofa where he had been sitting. It captured their personality with one little drawing.
Two examples of heroic deeds by animals happened here in this house. There are millions of other stories out there but these happened here. We had a ginger cat that decided to move in with our neighbor because the food was better and he got a lot more attention. They made a great pair. The only time he would come over to visit was when she was away. One day he came to the window and began to cry and would not stop. I went out to see if he was alright and he just kept crying and moving towards the lady’s house looking back to make sure I was following him. He never stopped crying or looking back until we got to the house the gate was locked but he kept insisting so I climbed the gate and sure enough our neighbor was very ill and in need of help, which we were able to get her but we would not have known if the cat hadn’t of been so persistent. The other pertains to one of our daughters, who was exercising our neighbors horse. She had not ridden the horse many times and was in our ring not theirs. After a hard work-out she was cooling the horse off in a walk with the reins loose when a dog jumped out of the bushes and bit the horse in the heel. Scared and hurting the horse began to buck and run throwing our daughter off. The horse left at full speed after the dog leaving our daughter out of hearing range and with a totaled knee. She couldn’t get up and was in terrible pain. To her surprise a few minutes later the horse returned to where she was, lowered her head and let my daughter grab the mane and pulled her to her feet then supporting her so she could hop all the way home where we then had to take her to the hospital for a new knee. All our daughter kept saying amongst the floods of tears was, “well it was so kind of her to come back for me”. We really couldn’t believe it ourselves because it wasn’t even one of our horses. There are so many stories of animals saving families from fire or accidents that it makes you wonder. That is one of the reasons I went into Animal Assisted Therapy because once you know how to interpret an animal’s body language it is amazing the bond you can make and the benefit you can receive. That is why service dogs for veterans and riding therapy are becoming so popular and even being studied scientifically. So if you have a pet be sure to take good care of it because it may just be your best friend.

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