I planned not to write about animals for a while, though they are a big part of my life (not so much of my fiction, to-date, anyway) but I encountered a story worth passing on. It’s “A Horse Named Champ Rescues a Drowning Filly,” at Animal Emotions, the Psychology Today blog of Dr. Marc Bekoff. The story is narrated by an observer and illustrated by on-the-spot, remarkable photos. See and hear it for yourself at the link given above. (It’s repeated at the end of this post, just in case.)
That rescue story reminded me of another one about kindness between animals. My husband’s family raised show horses near Clinton,Missouri, and owned brood mares as well, about twelve of the latter. Their self-appointed leader was a kicking, biting mare who bullied the others at any time, but especially at feeding time. She would block the pen entrance and kick any mare trying to enter until she tired of it, was too hungry herself, or was yelled at by one of the owners. She befriended, though, a mare that had been blinded in an accident. She accompanied that mare throughout the day and would enter the pen with her, allowing the friend first access to the feeding station. This lasted five years or more, until the blind mare was sold.
And another story (difficult to stop): My family had a blind dog (retina damage and glaucoma), small and lovable, a cross between a cocker spaniel and Pekinese—Lady. She wouldn’t bark to ask out. She would lie facing the back door and wait for someone to notice. We acquired also a bright little poodle, Max, who took it upon himself to ask out for Lady. When she lay waiting, he barked; if we didn’t respond quickly, he’d come for us and bark. Sometimes Lady wouldn’t go outside even with the door open, and then Max’s expression was one of consternation. I wish I had a photo of that, since some of my friends believe animal faces do not register emotion. Even though she was blind, Lady loved to escape and would bolt out the front door when the opportunity arose. Max would zoom with her, take the lead. If he got too far ahead he would come back for her. She followed where he led. Since he was a wise dog, he was a sidewalk runner. We could get them back in quickly. Only after Lady was alone did she get in traffic, and then was saved by a quick-thinking, kind human.
Max’s bravery, unfortunately, got him in a tight spot. Not a story for today.
The rescue story link again: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201204/horse-named-champ-rescues-drowning-filly.