Rescue Journal

gideon is pissed at me.

Alison  ·  Mar. 16, 2007

and i mean pissed, and he has every right too.

when dogs or cats come here to saints, they are companion animals. they are bred to be the friends and companions of man, even if we have a job for them to do. and it is deeply ingrained. so unless like dixie chick or andy, they missed that critical human socialization period, their relationships with us have the potential to be as good or better than with themselves. when they leave saints, it is because i know they will have that golden relationship that they crave.

but the barn guys are different. they are herd animals and they were bred to be subjucated and of service to man. there is no free will choice here, no loyalty written in hearts. it is a matter of master and slave (even if the slaves are well cared for and treated kindly and gently) we ride them when we want to ride, we eat them when we are hungry, we have them mow the grass we want mowed, we move them from stable to stable at whim, we milk them when we are thirsty and we shear their fleece to sell, and we sell them when they are no longer of use...we use them to provide a service or a product that we want and yes we can even be nice and kind and respectful while we do it. it sounds quite callous but it is true. we don't keep these animals only to look at and to watch them live thier lives in harmony with the rest of their herd or to talk to or for company just to walk with in our fields. they are too expensive and require too much in return just for that. so i believe our relationship with them is quite different. and even tho at saints that is exactly the life that we give them, that is full of their choices and their lives to own, they almost don't believe it. and today they found out why they don't really believe.

i believe the saints barn guys like me. they like that i give them a nice place to live. they like that there is good food and treats here and we make few demands on themselves. but in no way shape or form am i of the same value as their herd. i truly am just a peon human. i am ok with that because it means i gave them what i originally promised...a life that is theirs to live as they choose. the saints herd is a conglomeration of horses, donkeys, llamas, sheep, pigs and now a calf. it is a family that lives in our barn and hangs out together in our fields. i believe the bonds of that herd are stronger than with any human. why else did carl let a new baby pig of an entirely alien species climb over him after a mere 10 days, but i as the human caregiver here am still not allowed to touch him after almost a year? it is because carl has chosen to accept a pig into his herd but he has not chosen to accept a human, not even me.

gideon is an incredibly wise horse. he knows more than anyone can even guess. and he has lived with and been of service to humans for a lifetime longer than most. gideon knows that saints is a sanctuary and he knows that i understand what the herd means to them and he knows that in my heart i respect that. and i think he knew too that the herd here was safe, until 3 pm this afternoon. that was when i sent away the donkeys and broke apart the sacred herd. he turned his back on me and walked away and i knew that he had just been betrayed.

i can't explain to gideon that the donkeys were never saints. from the day they arrived they were boarders. they were rescued by another and came here to stay until a home was purchased and built for them to go to. gideon doesn't care about my reasons or excuses, it is my actions that speak deeply to him and he saw me bridle and lead the donkeys to the trailer and forever remove them from his herd. i think gideon has seen that alot in thirty years and he knows exactly what that means.

today i told gideon that even at saints humans can never be trusted because we will always have an excuse or a reason for doing something that they don't want us to do. like messing with his family that was important to him by breaking the bonds of his herd.

i am sorry gideon, i know what i did and i know that you know too and i am sorry that i let you down.



Thank you for acknowledging what so many others don't...that animals form their own relationships indifferent to humans. And the difficult choices we make as animal rescuers can mean the same to the animals as when we break apart human siblings or move our children across the country away from their cherished friends and everything they know and love.

Chris T

Those relationships sound so powerful - I had no idea Carol how much the farm animals bond.