Category Archives: Animals

A secret squirrel

Secret Squirrel

Bertie was quite relieved when he was moved away from the gushing waterfall and placed safely back in the bag. Honestly! He thought, the things I do!!! And he brushed off a few bits of moss which had decided to attach themselves to his legs. Bertie decided he was out of practice with this adventure stuff and stuck his head out of the bag to see where they were heading next.

It was a beautiful day. The sun warmed his fur and a gentle, spring breeze brushed against him they made their way along a winding pathway. This is how Bertie remembered home. Not raining and dismal but a warm, fresh spring day like today where the birds were singing and everything seemed to come alive.

Suddenly, they stopped. Bertie heard a rustling noise and he knew this was his cue to stay very still. Looking around Bertie could feel he was being watched, but he wasn’t sure by who or by what!

He heard the soft rustle again and looked up. There, in the tree above him, was a squirrel looking back at him with small, black beady eyes. There was something very unusual about this squirrel. It was red in colour and quite small. The oak leaf it carried in its mouth looked as big as its head.

Bertie was face to face with a real, rare red squirrel. These squirrels can only be found in certain parts of the UK and are quite tricky to spot. What a treat!!! Thought Bertie. He was so pleased when he heard the familiar shutter of the camera. He didn’t dare move in case he scared the squirrel off but at least they got a photograph for Croc.

I wonder what Croc would make of a red squirrel? Thought Bertie. He would probably be hiding at the bottom of the camera bag. What do you think?

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Sweetheart

Sweetheart Blog post
Never smile at a crocodile! 

Bertie has met some interesting characters on his travels. Some would even say he has become a little nonchalant to unusual sights. A recent trip to Darwin’s Art Gallery soon changed that and reminded him that you need to be alert at all times, especially if you are near water and in the Northern Territory.

Yes, that beautiful green blue tropical water might look enticing and pleasant on a warm humid day but there are creatures living in there which might find a small bear a tasty snack.

Here is an appropriate moment for Bertie to introduce Sweetheart, a HUGE 5.1 metre saltwater crocodile. Yes, you heard him right, SALTWATER as in SEA!

Don’t be fooled by Sweethearts ironic name. If you listen carefully to the commentary at the Art Gallery you will learn that Sweetheart was responsible for a series of attacks on boats in Australia between 1974 and 1979. He attacked outboard motors, dinghies, and fishing boats. In July 1979, Sweetheart was caught alive by a team from the Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission, but unfortunately drowned while being transported when he became tangled with a log. The crocodile’s mounted body is now on permanent display at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

After all this excitement Bertie needed a nice cup of tea, he is a British bear after all, and went to the Museum and Art Gallery’s cafe, Cornucopia, which he can highly recommend as, although there was a view of the ocean there were no crocodiles in sight!

Ubuntu

Copyright Key Image Photographers ubuntu-elephants
Two female elephants protectively prevent the baby elephant from being taken downstream by the current. Photograph taken whilst volunteering at Elephant Nature Park in Thailand.

I have often written about the connection that I feel to nature. I love being in the woods, surrounded by trees, the older the better. I love sitting in trees and feeling the comfortable swaying embrace of them. I also love being around animals, especially dogs.

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Poppy showing me her “happy face” The wind blew and caught her ears at the perfect time!

I have grown up with dogs. My first dog was there from birth and was my protector, my calmness and my best friend. My little Poppy, pictured above, has been my constant companion and has made me smile when I never thought I would smile again. I have worked with elephants, volunteered with animal sanctuaries and at one point felt I had my own animal sanctuary when I owned a disabled guinea pig and a ferocious rabbit who would chase birds from the garden.

Rascal, the most appropriately named rabbit
Rascal, the most appropriately named rabbit

But what about people? I find people harder to connect with than nature and animals. With an animal what you see is what you get. They are very true to themselves and they show their emotions. I have met many a cat who has shown their distaste at your existence.

People I find more complicated to understand. I can instantly feel when someone is not being true to themselves or when they are hiding something and it places me in a position of unrest in their company. I have met people who are selfish and needy, only wanting to validate their own self worth and, I am embarrassed to admit, I myself have been this way at a point in my life where I wanted someone else to desperately show me that I was good enough.

I have also met the most wonderful and open souls. People who are calm, confident within themselves and who genuinely care about other people. They don’t announce their grand gestures on Facebook or for the world to see, what they do they do because it comes naturally to them. I have been very fortunate to have had these people come into my life.

I have included a video link in this post today. It is from a TED talk by a man called Boyd Varty. He talks about the African term of Ubuntu, which is difficult to translate into English but Boyd describes it as “I am, because of you”

Click on the link Ubuntu and find yourself transported to 14 minutes of inspiration. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Two way conversations

Dolphin interaction at Monkey Mia
Dolphin interaction at Monkey Mia

I love nature!

Since I was a little girl, as long as I can remember, I have held a deep infinity towards animals.

My best friend and loyal companion growing up was a gentle Alsatian dog. I learnt to walk using him as my support. He was my play mate, always eager for a game. He comforted me when I was scared just by being there. I have early memories of watching thunder and lightning with him without fear and feeling completely safe. Even now when there is a thunderstorm I find myself smiling at those early memories. I lost him when I was 7 years old. I was devastated. It was my first experience of loss and heartbreak.

Throughout my life I have never understood why human beings inflict such cruelty on animals. When I interact with an animal I can see its soul, just like I do when I interact with a person. I can feel its mood, just like I do when I am near a person. I can also feel its pain and sadness, the same as I feel other peoples pain and sadness.

I have worked with abused elephants in Thailand, volunteered at dog shelters, swam with dolphins in the wild (trust me it feels very different from swimming with them in captivity!) and rescued guinea pigs and returned them to full health. When I was younger I wanted to be a vet but I don’t think my house would have been big enough to accommodate all the animals I would have brought home.

I was walking in the park last night and watched as two teenage girls walked past engaged in conversation. Behind them, diligently following and being completely ignored was a Golden Retriever dog. I felt sad that the girls did not feel gratitude for having such a diligent companion and instead chose to ignore it and not interact with it.

I wanted to share the video above which I came across on my linkedin group.

I want to point out, not just the intelligence of this magnificent creature, but the peoples reactions when they realise that they are interacting with it, that this whale is communicating to them, sharing with them and saying “I understand”. The sheer joy and laughter from the free divers is what made me smile. I have seen this same response many times when people interact with dolphins (see above photograph taken at Monkey Mia), my dog greets them and they realise she is super friendly and happy to see them or even when a butterfly lands on them unexpectedly.

In order to have a meaningful interaction with something or someone, you need to be open to having a two way conversation. This “conversation” does not necessarily have to involve words!

Next time you are with an animal spend some time watching and connecting with it. They truly have a lot to teach us if only we would take the time to stop and listen.