Sunday, 31 January 2016

A dolphin is my guru

So I am in a grumpy mood and creating conspiracy theories in my head.  Feel like my back is a target for knives and my nerves jangle.  Then I have the good fortune of sitting in front of my guru.  Her name is Frodo.  She is a bottle nose dolphin and an excellent measure of where I am at.  I know as I climb into the water with her that I need to have my thoughts in order.  She has taught me that.  Because if I don’t, she will push me into place.  Or not be as malleable as I wish her to be.  I feel her pushing down on my hand, and immediately I have to make sure I am back being present.  Get out of my head.  Stop worrying about the future or the past or who is slinging mud(or not).  Being where she wants me to be.  With her.  Right in the moment.  I adjust my thinking, drop the target on my back and let the conspiracy theories dissolve.  And her work is done. 

The joke – I call myself an animal trainer.  Like I am doing the job.   Bwhahahah.  We have to laugh at our ‘almighty’ selves.  We are not in control.  This is a partnership.  A beauty.  We don’t train them.  We partner with them to come up with a result.  When we can pay attention to the little details, then we are truly fortunate to be able to hear the animals speaking to us.

The joy of it all is that every time we are in a training session we have this opportunity.  We are able to feel this truth.  Practise being present.

I think if I was not an animal trainer I may be in a looney bin.  They are the best therapists around.

Friday, 29 January 2016

One day animals will teach us to fly

When we work with animals for long enough, we may be lucky enough to see our projections.  A projection is a belief system that we hold about ourselves, consciously or unconsciously, that we use to label those around us.  When we have this level of awareness, we are able to see the animals before us for the perfect mirrors that they are.

We had  a good laugh this week.  Five of us have worked together for sometime and have the honour of having special relationships with a group of five female dolphins.  We were brainstorming a solution for a training plan and began to describe the features we saw in each dolphin.  Adjectives like strong-willed, creative, happy-go-lucky, exuberant and eager-to-please were among the descriptions we were using to characterise our favourite friends.  Some of the predicaments we were describing were ‘likes to be in charge’, ‘stuck in the middle’, ‘on her own mission’, ‘wants to achieve’ and ‘looking for attention’.  It was with a sudden spark of brilliance that we looked around the room and realised that each of us had a dolphin we were more drawn to in the group, and we were actually describing ourselves when we were talking about that particular dolphin. 

This lesson is so much bigger than just this fun realisation.  Because when we truly see the adjectives as something that we are using to colour our experience of the beautiful beings in front of us, we are able to put the adjectives down.  When we do that, our experiences of them become a whole lot less limited.  All of a sudden we can see them in their truest light.  And even more exciting, we can laugh off our own  personal limitations that we use as excuses not to experience life more fully.

One day animals will teach us to fly

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

a beautiful spirit

Beautiful Spirit

Today I would like to celebrate a beautiful spirit.  As animal people we have all got creatures in our lives who we adore.  The expression of my adoration is for Sasha.

Sasha joined my family when we rescued her as a puppy.  Found her in a cardboard box on the side of the road.  Someone was trying to sell her.  I instantly fell in love with her, but also needed to get her away from a poor welfare situation.  We went straight to the vet.  Sasha was diagnosed with joint ill.  A disease that is contracted through the umbilical cord.  It is usually contracted when animals are kept in inappropriate and dirty environments.  So began a long road to recovery that included all sorts of medications and interventions.  At one point she had to be injected with fluids every few hours.  I remember at one particular weak moment praying that one day she would grow into a big dog that I could hug.  And that she did.

I feel so grateful for some of the most incredible moments I have spent with this lady.  Long 20km walks around our neighbourhood, through the bush, along the railway lines.  Teaching her to swim in the sea.  Going for runs on the beachfront.  Road trips – just the two of us.  Soft wet nose kisses in the morning.  Cuddling on the couch. 
Another remarkable thing about Sasha is that as a puppy she was involved in killing birds on our new property.  However she seems to have learned that that behaviour does not make me happy.  She also never liked cats in the past, but now she is the biggest protector.  In fact two kittens that were brought to our home have been mothered by Sasha.  She protected them from the other animals.  Sasha’s best friend growing up was our pig Cleopatra.  They still have an understanding.  Cleo does not like any of the other dogs, but seems to enjoy Sasha grooming her.  Sasha is a nurturer.  Her latest flock is a group of four chickens who have been turfed aside by mother hen.  Sasha follows them around the garden and looks after them. 
Just had to celebrate how much I adore this lady.  She knows what I am thinking.  She knows what annoys me and how to get me to do her bidding.  She is an old lady now, but still has puppy dog eyes.  Lying on her back to get her tummy scratched when she wakes up in the morning.  Stretching and content. 
I am so so grateful for her beautiful  spirit.  Thank God for animals. 
Love you Sashie!

Friday, 22 January 2016

long term love

In life we look for patterns.  They make us feel safe.  When we become aware of the patterns we have created, we become aware of the limitations that we have placed on our existence.  This awareness can open up horizons of amazingness for us to experience.
 When two are together and have created patterns together, it can be challenging to shift from predictable patterns to these amazing horizons.
 When a trainer works with an animal, we are in relationship.  So there is a strong chance that we can create these structured patterns.  These cause expectation, and as we all know, expectation is not being in the moment and in joy.  It is imperative that we provide a sense of safety – some patterns, but at the same time, we need to steer away from being predictable to the point where we wrap these incredible beings up in cotton wool and prevent them from experiencing anything new.  We need to provide our loves with sufficient stimulation – opportunities to experience new things.  Allow them to be desensitised to all sorts of scenarios, and basically become stable and well adjusted.  So that they are not stressed by the unexpected.
 For trainers that work with the same animals for long periods of time, a particular sensitivity to this concept needs to occur.  With some species, trainers work more than one training session every day.  And the relationship can go on for lifetimes. 

With these relationships we are required to be super-aware of our own patterns and fears.  It takes a special person to be that aware.  To be that brave and consistently in tune with where they may be limiting the potential of the animal and its experience in our care.
I know a number of trainers who have been working with the same animals for sometimes more than 20 years.  A commitment not only in terms of the concept outlined above, but also because of the emotional investment in the relationship.

This blog is dedicated to all those who are fortunate enough to share these special relationships with animals over these extended periods of time.  Thank you for your day to day commitment.  It is not always easy.  Your family does not understand why the animals are sometimes more important than they are.  Don’t worry.  There are many people in our industry who do understand.

Here is to hoping that the lesson of providing them with the most enriched existence possible is a lesson that is not only there for them, but also there for you.  For this is a gift.  When we can become that conscious of ourselves, we will life a much more unlimited life.  Another amazing lesson that we get from the animals with whom we interface. 
 Be brave.  Play.  Commit to the moment.  This is where we thrive.  Nothing beats the moments where we are just in love.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016


Last night I went to observe a dog training class run by a fellow trainer at a dog training school another peer has developed.  #Superdogs.  It was a reminder of how proud I am of so many people with whom I have had the honour to share my training career.  Trainers who have been passionate about what we do in our industry.  I believe we teach ethical communication.  It does not work to keep that message to ourselves.  We have to share it.  So to all those trainers who have taken leap to share our view more widely, I salute you. 

It is not always easy to start your career in one place and then leave the animals with whom you have fallen in love to move to another facility or start a venture of your own.  However, some manage to find the gumption, and I have seen so many succeed in so many ways.  Trainers who are working with completely different species now.  Those who have moved to foreign countries and are making huge marks on the industry. Those that lead teams in different organisations. Trainers who have started businesses of their own, and are attracting clients who they are converting to more ethical animal care measures.  Some are still working exotic animals, others work domestic.  Either way, they are sharing positive messages.

Because at the end of the day, we all know that if we truly listen to the lessons we are learning from the animals, we become better human beings.  And better human beings will do better by our animal friends, and ultimately, better for our planet as well as for fellow man.

Hats off to you all my friends.  I am so honoured to have shared your journey.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

David Bowie remembered for the dolphins

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The theme is chickens.  Five moved in after noticing the sign above or home that clearly said 'vegetarians live here'. No apology.  The roost in the pergola and the hens even left an egg or two but I was convinced they were still too young to bed as they had just fledged. 

So it was a big surprise when on of the hens paraded around one morning with her little flock of chicks.  

What an honour to watch the clever animals nurture their young.  She fiercely fends of dogs and cats and horses and me if I get too close.  She has worked out how to coerce me to feed and water her brood. 

Love watching her teach her fast little learners.  The art of sand bathing. When to hide under her skirt of feathers.  To come when called.  How to sun tan.  Where to get water.  What to avoid.  Where to rest.  How to turn the compost.  Busy busy.  

To think of all those farmed birds who never see the light of day.  Who are captive till they are eaten.  

Sent from Samsung Mobile

Farewell Hermione


 Hermione joined our family as a wild feral cat when she was pregnant.  This is her with her litter, looking very untrusting.  That all changed the longer she was with us. 
In the end she was one of the most trusting animals I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  She was very ill in the last months of her life.  I had to be nebulise and inject and medicate with tablets.  She let me do it all without restraint.  She knew she could leave anytime.  She also obviously worked out that she felt better as a result of the treatments.

Eventually I was put in a position where I had to choose to let her go.  I have never really been comfortable with the issue of euthanasia.  Suffering also makes me wince.  It just freaks me out that I have to play God in situations like this.  I had to be clear that I am letting her go for her sake and not mine.  How do we truly know the answer to that?

I have done the animal communication telepathy course.  I did try talk to her.  I trust I heard right. 

Bless you Hermione.  Thank you for the honour of knowing such a graceful wise lady.

This is the cat who woke me up in the middle of the night after she and the other cats in the house were unable to go and relieve themselves outside through the usually open window due to some mad cat-speciest dogs that had come to stay. The other two cats were sitting on the base of my bed watching and Hermione was peeing on my chest.  As if to say, what do you want us to do?  I could not even be mad.  She had a very valid point, and I did fix the problem very quickly(0:

I am so so grateful for her time with me and our family.  Love you my mione.  Till we meet again - stay in my happy memory place.  I know I will stroke your little back and feel your crooked tail once more.  Because the type of togetherness you gifted me is eternal.