Tuesday, September 12, 2006

If I Could Talk with the Animals..........

Dr. Doolittle always seemed to have a good time talking to his animal friends and I must say that so do I. Here I have a great many with whom I can conduct a morning’s chat, donkeys, goats, and sheep, and I find it all very rewarding.

The rapt attention which they pay me is most flattering although I must say that there is usually a lot of snuffling around to see if I’ve brought them any breakfast.

They all have slightly different interests, I find. A very large donkey by the name of Noisette is primarily interested in domestic and family affairs whilst Leo, by the semaphoring of his ears as I talk, shows a lively interest in foreign matters. Blair’s visit to Lebanon, for instance.

Thinking it over, I feel that, were they able to speak to me in my language, much of the magic of these early morning sessions would be dissipated. I would find that, just like people, they would have opinions that differed from mine, they would prove to be contentious, self-centred and down right argumentative. Our peaceful co-existence would be shattered.

As it is, it is a calm and placid start to my day and perhaps the human race should take a close look at the animal kingdom. I find it admirable, although I must confess that I have never faced a man-eating tiger or a charging African rhinocerous, events which might lead me to reconsider my position.

When I speak of differences of religion which lead to bloodshed, the donkeys laugh incredulously and even the sheep have to smile. Only the mountain goats have shown any tendency to extend their lebensraum by vaulting the fences, and they are soon persuaded that it’s not a great idea when they find that most of the food is back in their home territory.

And the sheep, apart from the rams who do indulge in a bit of friendly horseplay around mating time, are essentially a peace loving lot. All of them here are black but they seem to have no prejudice against lighter members of their breed.

And animals are grateful, not in a sending of flowers and hypocritical thank you notes kind of way. A couple of days ago, one of the mountain goats got herself inextricably enmeshed in some wire. She is a lovely animal with a superb pair of horns which were, of course, her undoing in this case. She was so tangled up that it took me a good fifteen minutes with the use of wire cutters to free her. Previously, she had been very shy but yesterday, as I was talking to a couple of donkeys and discussing world affairs, I felt a nudge and there she was. I think it was her way of saying thank you. It was better than a Hallmark card.

Not everyone sees things this way. When I pointed out that she had a lovely face, I was looked upon with scorn and derision. But she has, although I think male goats usually regard things from the other end when it comes to assessing beauty.

So when I go to a better world (surely it must be, not another one like this!) I hope that I get assigned to a position with animals for eternity. I quite fancy being a shepherd. Healthy, outdoor life, plenty of thinking time and, as an audience, I find sheep are without doubt, listeners par excellence. And, provided the flock is not too large, there are few mathematical problems to grapple with.

However, if the luck that a fickle fate has dished me up in this life so far is anything to go by, I’ll probably wind up as a meeter and greeter at Disneyworld!


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