Z is for ZOO

Z is for ZOO

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My motto for this year’s A to Z is “Animals in my life – stuffed or alive”.

I have to admit, I almost never visit zoos. I like the general idea, because it is difficult to protect what you don’t know, and you can watch animals you wouldn’t see otherwise. But very often in my opinion the animals are not given enough possibility to withdraw from the visitors.

But there are always exceptions. The wolvespark of Werner Freund in Saarland (link to englisch homepage) is one of those. The wolves here can choose if they want to be seen, or if they like to seek shelter in the woods and one of the many little wolf houses. At the time we were visiting, we were very lucky, because the staff fed the wolves and took the time to explain general things and answer questions to us visitors.

My overall impression was that the wolves were ok with us watching them. Some of them even slept near the fence in plain sight 😀 As I mentionend in my previous post W is for WOLVES, the wolves here are hand raised and not wild. They are used to humans and lost their natural shyness. The staff is able to gather them toghther by howling – believe me, even at daytime there is something scary about hearing wolves howl. But the wolves never were forced to do something. This freedom is what I wish for all zoo animals!

On a personal note, participating in the AtoZ Challenge was a good experience. Organizing old photos brought up so many memories of all kinds. And it became once more clear for me, how deeply rooted the love for animals is rooted in my soul. It is really part of who I am, but this is alright, or more than alright. Wouldn’t change it for the world.
And thank you for following me on this journey through my life, hope you liked it!
See you again next year at the AtoZ Challenge 🙂

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Y is for YELLOW RIBBON

Y is for YELLOW RIBBON

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My motto for this year’s A to Z is “Animals in my life – stuffed or alive”.

In the picture above is Sam’s yellow ribbon, not very tidy, but well worn 🙂 . A yellow ribbon or bandana on a dog is a sign that this dog needs space. The dog can be in training, and every distraction would complicate the learning process. The dog can be old and therefore easily be overwhelmed. The dog can be recovering from illness or surgery and just not be in the mood to play. There can be many reasons to ask for space. More information about the idea behind this can be found here: Yellow Dog.

In Sam’s case, he still is very unpredictible. On some days he tolerates other people, dogs, joggers and bikers well, on others he just can’t stand them, barks and would try to chase them away. Even though we are very careful and attentive, we don’t take any chances, and more space makes the situation easier to handle for us humans and Sam.

In my opinion it’s a good idea if everybody can recognize a struggling dog from a distance. Pedestrians know that it wouldn’t be a good idea to pet this dog, and other dog owners are given enough time to put their dogs on the leash, so the meeting doesn’t escalate. Win-win for everyone, I would say.

So, the next time you see a dog wearing yellow, think of the possibility that this dog isn’t just a fashion victim, but that it maybe needs space.

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X is for X-FACTOR

X is for X-FACTOR

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My motto for this year’s A to Z is “Animals in my life – stuffed or alive”.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines X-Factor as “a quality that you cannot describe that makes someone very special”.

Well, all the animals I met in my life so far had the X-Factor: They all had the ability to open up my heart. But I can not say how they did it, and this is what I call the X-Factor.

Even if I had to work hard to gain their trust, there was always the feeling I was given a fair chance and wasn’t judged. They always held me accountable for my actions, but forgave me at the same time. They all did see more in me than humans often did and accepted me for was I was, helping and protecting me along the way. They gave me love without asking for something in return, and maybe that is the key.

But even if I can’t explain this completely, one thing is for sure: They made me a better person. And this is what counts in the end.

 

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W is for WOLVES

W is for WOLVES

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My motto for this year’s A to Z is “Animals in my life – stuffed or alive”.

Even though I consider myself an animal lover, I am not immune to prejudice. For decades I thought wolves were somewhat evil and dangerous. This changed in 2015, when we visited a wolf park in Saarland.

What we saw there where playful, peaceful animals that greated their carers enthusiastically (of course it helped that all wolves in this park are raised by hand and that the carers brought chickens 🙂 ). Sometimes they behaved like big dogs. We learned that wolves are very social, and that they raise their cubs together, als a group. They hunt old or weak prey, and they never take more as they need. They are shy and avoid human contact. They are also very intelligent.

Of course they snatch sheep if they are able too, but they just are a part of German forests, and we have to find ways to live with them.

On this day, the wolves in Germany gained a new advocate. They just deserve to live as much as we do.

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V is for VACATION

V is for VACATION

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Of course my love for animals didn’t stop when were holidays were concerned 🙂

When I was a little girl, my parents spent three weeks every summer at the Baltic Sea. We went with a colleague of my father and his wife, they had two teenage children who liked to ride. And of course I wanted to ride, too! What you see on the photo is my first riding lesson. I liked it a lot! The horse’s name was Moritz, by the way. He was very experienced with children and always stayed calm no matter what.

Later, I would touch any animal I was allowed to. When we were on hiking trips to Hesse, I met Whisky, a retired riding pony. He was very patient with me and didn’t mind me while having his dinner.

When I was a teenager, my parents let me have riding holidays. At this time, this was heaven on earth for me. This photo is from my last riding holiday, where we studied for a certificate. This certificate says that you are capable of taking care of a horse and riding it as well (I think every rider should have to take this test). There was a theoretical and a practical test, I aced both. The photo shows me with Windy, the horse that I was assigned to for this week. She was a little bit like Nizza, bitchy when stallions were around and absolutely not a horse for beginners, but a very good teacher and compliant once you earned her trust.

This a big thank you to all the animals that made my holidays!

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U is for UNIQUE

U is for UNIQUE

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My motto for this year’s A to Z is “Animals in my life – stuffed or alive”.

You can guess from what I wrote so far in this A-Z challenge, that I had a lot of furry and feathery companions in my life. They all thaught me a lot, but the most important thing is: EVERY ANIMAL IS UNIQUE!

Of course every species comes with certain characteristics, as do breeds. But this is not all that defines an animal’s soul. There, I said it: I believe animals have a soul, and that having a soul it not something given only to humans. Because they have a soul as well, we can have those wonderful, deep relationships with them. Because they have a soul as well, we can connect to each other. Because they have a soul as well, they have every right to be treated with respect and love.

But I digress. If you know a cat, you know THIS cat and not all cats. One cat my stay distant all of the life, another will follow you around and snuggle. The same goes for budgies, dogs, hamsters, horses… you name it.

This is why you should put aside every expectation far away if you meet an animal. You could misjudge it because you assume too much. Allow yourself to discover everything this animal has to give, because you are open. And together, you and this special animal will paint a part of this canvas together that is your life.

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T is for TRUMAN

T is for TRUMAN

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My motto for this year’s A to Z is “Animals in my life – stuffed or alive”.

My husband meets with another volunteer of the shelter every Saturday noon. Together they walk their own dogs Janet, Sam and Irmi, and Truman (picture above).

Truman is a former stray dog from Spain, a terrier mix. If you watch his tail closely, you see a part of it is missing. We don’t know what happened to him on the street, but it surely was a hard life.

Truman is a very proud Spaniard! He may be a small dog (30 cm at the shoulder), but he is very brave. One day, he bit our Sam, and Sam is 60 cm tall. Sam of course didn’t take this very well, and it was a good thing Sam was wearing a muzzle back then. It never happened again, and neither my husband or the other volunteer (both experienced dog owners) could explain why it happened.

Truman was adopted twice, but he was brought back to the shelter every time, because he didn’t adapt to his new home very well and got overwhelmed very easily. It is very sad that nobody was willing to give him more time. Pets, especially those from the shelter, often bring problems with them to their new families. Very often all it takes is time, patience and willingness to work on theses issues, and things get better as soon the pet feels secure in the new enviroment. I am not going to lie, some are very tough cases, as our Sam, but most aren’t.

I wish everybody who is willing to take in a pet from a shelter would be aware of this possible complications. I wish everybody who is willing to take in a pet from a shelter would also be willing to help the new family member through this hard time. These pets suffered enough already! I wish Truman finds a new forever home soon.

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