The humane society where I volunteer my communication skills regularly takes some of the animals off site for adoption days. On these days, people are scurrying around, making sure everything and everyone is taken care of and accounted for. The scene looks as if the humans are in the middle of the hub-bub, and the animals have nothing to do but sit in their cages and look cute. According to the animals, they play a much bigger role than humans give them credit. One said this about how she perceives her job:
“I am the ambassador for our kind when I travel off site. That is my job, and I love doing it. You humans don’t realize how much we animals do and take on in helping you find good homes for us. We appreciate what you do for us, and you couldn’t do it without us. We hope that you acknowledge our part a little bit more. Just like you want to find good homes for us, we want to go to good homes. Remember, you are not doing this by yourself, but you have our help. Each one of us helps in different ways, the way our training and personality allows us to help. Remember, you’re not doing this by yourself. That’s it. Thanks for listening to this little added extra I had to say.”
Her honesty, wisdom and willingness to help made me wonder how often we deny an animal’s help because we think it’s our job to help them. How often do we allow our ego to interfere in developing a true relationship with animals, a relationship that is ‘power with’ instead of ‘power over’?
In an earlier posting, my horse Shiloh, never too shy about speaking up, said “Just because you’re human and it’s your idea, that doesn’t always constitute a good idea.” He’s not necessarily discounting my idea, he simply wants to be able to add his opinion to the discussion, to be an equal partner in our relationship, instead of one of us having power over the other. In our world that translates to the person having power over the animal.
How many times have you heard or said: ‘you’ve got to show then who’s the boss’, or ‘you can’t let them get away with that’. This evening I was reading a posting on the blog camera-obscura about a situation where the horse wasn’t doing what was asked of him (or her). She ends the post by saying “…I no longer see my encounters with my horses as a series of battles I must make sure to win. Rather, I see my encounters with my horses as opportunities to have a conversation, to make a connection, and to find places where both I and the horse can be calm and happy.”
Don’t you wonder what the world would be like if people saw their encounters with animals as opportunities for conversation, opportunities for connection? Too many times in our relationships with the animals, our egos interfere with what they have to say. At times we also deny their help, thinking it’s our job to help them.
Help is never a one way street, from us to the animals only. It’s a two way street, with the animals helping us in the ways their training and personalities allow.
We all do better when all creatures do better. In order to create a world where this is genuinely true, it’s time for us humans to relax the reins of control, and accept the help the animals are willing to give.