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March 28, 2017: The Day Begins . . .

This day began with Pete going into the living room to get Rainbow out for her morning walk. He came out of the living room, into the kitchen with leash in hand, old dog moving very slowly. He remarked as the two headed towards the kitchen addition door that rather than just put the leash on her and pull on her to get up, he instead first scratched her ears and said good morning to her.

Rainbow doesn’t like to be touched. No matter how gentle I am when I touch her, she gets nervous, backs off, indicates that she’d rather be left alone. She does like ear scratches though. And she likes being given a treat. The salmon treats work well because she can smell them in the hand.

Young Rainbow
Young Rainbow

Pete’s gesture set the tone for the entire day, and put me on a line of thought that I’d like to continue. I went out to the goat shed and let Ranger out. He doesn’t like to be touched around his head, especially now that he has a scur, a bone growth that originally was to be a horn.

We are going to have to have Dr. Kaiser cut it off because it’s bugging him. I gave Ranger a treat, said good morning, and then had him accompany me down to the horse pen. On the way, I reinforced his good behavior, which was staying by my side. Sometimes he gets in front of me and rears. I am not afraid of him but this does slow down my forward momentum. Also, it scares others who do not know that it is not going to be followed with him ramming them. The treats, they work quite well, he is learning an alternative behavior.

I arrived at the horse pen, went inside, gave each a treat, said good morning, and gave each of the gang of four a scratch and a treat. Then we got down to work – me getting the feed and them having to stay outside the pen while I took the hay out of the shed. I had to turn my back to Raudi and ignore her – she soon walked out into the yard because she knew that walking into the shed and nudging me was not going to work.

As I was scooping poop, I began thinking more about what I am now calling the kinder, gentler, more respectful way of treating animals. My thinking returned to its point of origin, Pete’s gesture. I sometimes fly off the handle when dealing with the horses – happened the other night when Tyra stepped on my foot. It was dark out – I saw stars, and not just the ones in the sky. I reacted badly. Not good – I have noticed that, particularly with the horses, that if I am aggressive they will immediately turn and act aggressive towards the next in their way.

Dealing in a kinder, gentler, more respectful way with people comes naturally to some but not to me. I need to create a new neural pathway, one in which I greet two leggeds with kindness and respect. Maybe, just maybe, the human animals will respond in kind. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll interact with other human animals in a similar fashion. It’s hard to say.

Odd, but it’s easier to picture people getting angry and making others angry. It’s harder to envision the opposite. It’s a tough call, attempting to follow the alternative path, but definitely one worth pursuing since I want to do my part in making the world a better place.

Next: 88. 3/29/17: The Reading Life: New Year’s Resolution, Busted

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