You Can Call Me…The Animal Whisperer

In order to avoid looking like an extra in a certain series of vampire films (you know it, I’m not saying it), I went outside today to enjoy the sunshine. It may surprise some of you, but the weather has been so wonderful in the UK this week we’ve actually been hotter than some Mediterranean countries. Amazing, right? I even had to wear sunglasses, it was that sunny! And to think I’m giving this up for snowy Minnesota. Hmm. Well perhaps we’ll go somewhere in America that has a warmer climate, and then I’ll not look so foolish.

So, I went into the garden to enjoy the sun (I don’t think my time on the chair did a lot for me, to be honest; with my complexion, getting anything more than a shade darker than ‘pearl white’ would be a miracle), but ended up doing something more important than giving my skin some colour. What would that be? Well, the folks were out for a walk, leaving me in charge of the pets while they were out. Because Georgie has to be where I am, and because Splat goes wherever she wants, the result, of course, is that I’m now outside with both of them. And as you should already know (if not, where have you been the past few weeks?), Splat and Georgie aren’t exactly best of friends. Much like the swans at Hardwick, Splat responds to Georgie’s welcoming enthusiasm with a loud hiss.

Now, that isn’t to say there hasn’t been some improvement. They both sleep in the kitchen together, and they regularly share a sofa with the folks. All in all, they are doing better, but for every positive sign we see, there is a negative one ready to remind us that we aren’t there yet.

Yesterday was a good example of this. Both were in the back garden. The first incident, Splat decides to jump off her ledge while Georgie is bounding around underneath her. Of course, Georgie sees this as her opportunity, and begins to chase a hissing Splat around the garden. Eventually my dad grabs her while I get a hold of Splat. Not the best start.

Later on, however, a similar trigger happens but without the same result. This time I’m alone when Splat decides she wants to wander across the garden. Georgie gets up to follow, but I quickly command her to stay…and she does. No hissing, no chasing, no problem. Crisis averted.

So, very slowly, they are beginning to understand each other’s needs. What is noticeable, however, is that their friendliness (or amiability) is only achieved at a respectable distance. Once they go nose-to-nose, or nose-to-backside (Georgie is a dog after all), it all goes pear-shaped. The relationship breaks down.

Well that was the case. Today, things changed. And it is down to me.

Let me lay out the scene for you. I go outside with Georgie, as I referred to earlier. Splat is lying in her bushes. Georgie won’t notice her there, so I put her down. She does her usual routine; chewing on things, bounding about. All very nice. I begin to relax in my chair.

Then Splat makes her move. She wanders across the grass to my chair, and settles down underneath it. Georgie, sitting by the other chair, looks up. While petting Splat (damn awkward given the positioning, but I do my best), I track Georgie’s movement. She edges forward, I tell her to stop, and she obliges. Then she shuffles forward again, again I tell her to stop, and again she listens. We play out this routine for a minute or two (she even loops around the chair, as if that would fool me), until she is within touching distance of Splat. I keep stroking Splat, soothing her with my words (I wouldn’t have called soothing at the time, but now I’m taking credit for this breakthrough, so that’s what I was doing) while Georgie begin to sniff Splat’s, uh, tail region.

So, what happens next? Does Splat hiss, run away? Nope. She closes her eyes, and rolls on her belly. What about Georgie? Does she pounce? Nope. She rolls on her belly too. Both of them, splayed out, within inches of each other. The closest they’ve been without handling. I slowly move away and turn my attention back to the sun. Happy pets, no drama.

Well…for a bit. Eventually Georgie goes for another sniff, and Splat isn’t impressed by this. She stopped at one hiss, though, and Georgie scooted off to play with a stick. Not a problem. And when Splat moved again, did Georgie follow? Nope. I didn’t even have to say a word. She just sat and minded her own business. Splat did the same.

Now, I appreciate this isn’t a massive change from before (they aren’t exactly cuddling up to each other), but it is the biggest improvement we’ve seen to date. And when you consider how they were hissing (well, Splat was) when they were in close vicinity earlier this morning with my dad, I think it is fair not just to count this as an achievement towards future symbiosis, but also as a sign of my talents. Because of me, and only me (yep, taking all the credit now), Splat and Georgie are becoming friends.

That’s right. I have a gift, people. You can call me the Animal Whisperer.




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