should they miss us? A tribute to Mhlaba

With the age of selfies, have we taken ‘being glorified’ to a whole new level?  It begs the question.
Am I in it for how I look in relationship with this animal?  Or am I in it because I care about this animal?  If the second is the answer – Share the love!!!  They can feel if you do.

I attended a funeral this weekend.  Of a man who worked with us for almost 14 years.  He was a trainer with the seals.  He had experience doing dog training too.  He was exceptional at what he did.  Unafraid, clear, calm and loving.  The words spoken at his funeral and memorial service earlier in the week all were testament to his amazingness.  We have lost a friend, a mentor, a peer, a steadfast incredible person.

He is a Zulu man.  And proud of his culture.  It is a culture I am familiar with because of where I live, but I am certainly no expert.  I do find something quite significant about the Zulu funerals, and this is that they honour the man who has passed, but they are also unashamedly able to express their own personal sadness at his passing.  My experience of western cultures is that we feel the need to only honour our loved ones.  We almost feel unworthy of expressing or sometimes even feeling our own feelings.  (See my emo post) 

I have written a few blogs recently about animals that have left our realm.  I have done similarly in those blogs – honour the incredible souls that they are.  And felt unworthy of expressing my own sadness and attachment. 

But this is not what this blog is about.

It is about the animals that are left behind.  Our friend Mhlaba leaving us is also felt by the animals that he trained.  For a while they will behave differently.  His passing was sudden.  There was no possibility to prepare the animals for his loss.

A reminder that we always have to work with the animals we care for as though we are leaving at any point.  Maybe not even for the long term.  When we leave our dogs in the care of another - are they okay with that?  How can we teach them to be okay with that?

A sign of a truly unconditional human being is one who is able to share the privilege of loving an animal with as many people as possible.  This requires us to mentor others in – not only the communication theory with that particular animal, but also the heart and care – let them fall in love with each other. 

It was once said to me that we cannot love one person or animal more than another.  All that is in the way of love is our stories about the other.  Love in essence is the absence of those stories.  Joy in being in relationship is about the freedom to enjoy that relationship – no strings attached.

Our friend was a master mentor.  He shared the love.  Thank you Mhlaba for the lesson.  For your diligence.  For your clear thinking care.  Hlabathi, Illanga, Mobi – all the seals are richer for having had you in their lives.  I am sure they will miss you – just because you are incredible.  However you are supported by an incredible team who will continue to care as you did – for the greater good.

RIP dear angel soul


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