December 2, 2013

What I Learn From My Animals

Giacomo & Slick

Giacomo & Slick

Understanding Your Strengths

Since we’ve had our animal sanctuary, I’ve come to believe that there’s a lot we can learn from animals. Sometimes it’s a tidbit of wisdom from watching them do what comes naturally, like how the pigs keep cool by digging mud pits to lie in. Or how they use sticks and leaves to build a shelter when it’s cold. At other times it’s observing the hunting strategies of a pack of dogs as they go after their prey, whether it be an unsuspecting squirrel or a coyote that’s trespassed onto their property.

And then there are other lessons I’ve learned. These come from watching the animals make mistakes. Sometimes it’s just by realizing that the old quote about “experience being the best teacher,” is as true as it ever was.

Bear Learned This The Hard Way

Bear is one of the dogs on our sanctuary. He’s a medium-sized dog, maybe 60 pounds, but he isn’t afraid of anything. He often fights coyotes, and on several occasions he fought more than one at the same time. He has tackled venomous snakes, and has been bitten a few times. He fought pit bulls, great Danes, UPS and Fed-ex trucks and their drivers (his arch enemies). And once he even dared to tangle with a fierce ballerina. But one night he got the foolish notion to tackle a raccoon.

Bear, raccoon RaccoonI wasn’t there to witness the fight, tending to be home in bed during the middle of the night, but the next morning the signs were waiting outside, like a crime scene. A large pool of blood was on the porch, and the trail led down the sidewalk disappearing under the car. We called him several times while following the blood, and then we heard a slight whimper before he crawled out, looking as if he’d been to hell and back. The photo you see is from after the vet cleaned him up. You should have seen him before.

Bottom Line

Raccoons aren’t that big. They don’t look mean. They even look kind of cuddly. They don’t sound scary either. I’m sure Bear sized it up and thought, I can take him. I think I’ll teach him a lesson.
There is a problem with teaching lessons. By definition it imparts the sense that the teacher knows more than the one being taught. In this case Bear made a grievous error and it cost him dearly.

So before you tackle your next project or assignment, make certain that you’re up to the challenge. And no matter how simple it looks, don’t underestimate it.

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Ciao, and thanks for stopping by,



Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of:
No Mistakes Resumes
Murder Takes Time
Murder Has Consequences
A Bullet For Carlos
Finding Family

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

2 Responses to “What I Learn From My Animals”

  1. God bless Baby Bear, who I hope made complete recovery. I don’t even wanna know how many thousands you spent on seeing to that.

    But just a note on raccoons: What were the signs it was a raccoon attack? I’ve seen the gruesome remains of a raccoon a neighbors dog shred to bits, so I imagine Bears nemesis never made it out alive.

    Which shores up my one observatiom working in raccoon rehab over the years: They don’t seek confrontation, and their #1 instinct is always escape. Because as much damage as raccoons can inflict, there’s almost no such thing as raccoon victory against dogs, even if they walk away alive and the dog dead, since mortal wounds are often the cost, and no vet care awaits their arrival home.

    Which isn’t to blame anybody, furry or otherwise, just to throw out there that raccoons aren’t vicious dog eaters, but will viciously defend themselves if cornered or scared (especially mamas). Subtle but important distinction, and again I pray that cutie-pie Bear is back on all 4 paws & running (toward anything but raccoons).

    have more to lose than

  2. Rausch: thanks for the comment. Yes, Bear is fine. The vet is the one who claimed it to be a raccoon. I didn’t know, but he said he’d seen plenty of them. I love raccoons. Had two as pets from the time they were babies. Great animals, and, as you said, primarily non-aggressive, unless provoked.

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