Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Who's in Charge?

As I foster two new motherless goats I am made aware of how important it is, as an animal husbandry person, to make right decisions for them. In fact, animal life here is always a question of who is in charge. Animals' god is the belly - safety, comfort and play - and food! They are constantly asking for it. They are constantly manipulating for it. And I know that if they are irritating me it is because I have failed to establish mastery over their appetites. (Oh yes, any animal failure is the human's fault, make NO mistake about it and once you have accepted that then you can fix your problems!)

So the babies - Yuki and Oto - they are about two weeks apart and fortunately buddies, not common since they are not herd related at all! I must regulate their bottles even when they frantically pester me for one. I must take them on long, ambling walks as they maddeningly lip a leaf as they slowly develop a taste for vegetation. I must teach them to follow, comfort them and give them the touching they need. No, I WILL not lick them however my dogs have stepped up to bat!

Oto came to me mostly dead. He was born during the nine degree nights we had and even though he is a big fellow he wasn't eating. My son Bernard helped me and had the great idea of feeding him with a dropper. Within a few days he was suckling and gaining strength. He was totally disoriented. He would shuffle to a corner and stand staring at the wall with a piteous bleat. It was fascinating to watch him learn to get a handle on his surroundings and the safe things to follow. Yuki has given him some goat sense and comfort - God provides!

But as I make life decisions for animals I realize it takes a form of self-mastery. I cannot indulge them, they don't understand it. I must relate to them in non-addictive ways and be not a friend but a kind lord as it were. It helps me understand how I must exert self-mastery over my appetites as well. I am not so very successful at it but I am understanding it better. The more I am a good "shepherd" so to speak, the better I am learning that it starts with me.

What a gift - self-mastery! To kindly but firmly say to myself "Keep your commitments. Develop your relationship with God as MOST important. Serve Him day in and day out. And by all means don't whine!" Goats are terrific whiners - and I can't help but think that I sound awfully like them sometimes!

When I got my Anatolian Shepherd dog Hannah, she upset the delicate balance of my four dog pack. The one male dog, Dozer was the most put out. He assumes he is in charge, a carefully cultivated illusion Darby allows. He would lunge at her, growl, bare his teeth. (Always when she was behind the fence. Hannah is twice as big and could take him out with one bite). I kept yelling at him to stop. Then in the middle of a lunge I saw him hesitate, stop and turn away. He, a dog, mastered himself. And I couldn't help but think that if he could do it I could! And how many excuses I make when my delicate balance is upset! You go Dozer!!!

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