> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: email@example.com
> > [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf Of Dana Hedberg
> > What am I looking for? ...
> > You claim some kind of communication with an animal. Whether you call it
> > spiritual or something else, you have offered that this connection was
> > real and that something meaningful was transferred between the two of
> > you. My questions: What kind of "communication" do you think took place?
> > Do you think this possible with other animal forms? Do you think the
> > specific situation gave rise to this communicatory feeling, or do you
> > think this is something more general?
> I'll start with the 2nd question about communication between humans and
> animals other than coyotes, because my background might shed light on my
> experience with the coyote. As a child I lived in a large city, but my
> family had a country place where we spent weekends. I'd spend the whole of
> each weekend wandering the woods and fields on foot or horseback. I was only
> a small child when I first started hanging out in the woods, and the animals
> seemed to realize that I wasn't a threat to them. I can remember playing a
> sort of hide-and-seek game with young white-tailed deer, whose personalities
> are something like domestic goats'--they're very curious and playful when
> they're young.
Sounds lovely! My childhood was spent on a pig farm with dogs, chickens,
and cats. I got along famously with the everything except the pigs. I
was very small and I fear they viewed me as something of a runt, so took
no care with regards to my safety. One of my earliest memories is of the
day when the pigs broke free of their pen while I was outside playing
fairly far from our house. When they saw me they rushed at me in a big
herd grunting their war chants. I was able to climb partially up a tree,
but not before one of them tried very hard to bite off my foot. I don't
think I'll ever forget that day. I had always been very nervous around
them, and I think they sensed/remembered that when they were free that
day. It's quite likely that if it hadn't been for that tree, I wouldn't
be having this conversation with you right now. =)
> When I was around 11 years old, I found a baby pigeon who'd fallen from her
> nest. She was a tiny, naked thing that I had to feed gruel from a medicine
> dropper, but she survived to adulthood, brought home a mate (I never kept
> her penned)and raised babies of her own. She somehow knew which window of
> the house was mine and would perch on the window ledge and peck at the
> window until I'd go out and feed her some grain. One day she came to my
> window, but when I went outside she didn't fly to the feeding area. I
> discovered that someone had shot her in the breast with a pellet air rifle,
> and she'd come home to die.
I've often found baby birds who've fallen from their nests. Sometimes
I'm able to lift them back up without touching them with my skin. Other
times, heeding the advice of my parents given so long ago, I leave them
for the adult birds to decide what to do.
> When I was 14, my special horse, Mohammed Abu Tabik, was born out of one of
> my mares. I always called him Andy. When he was two years old my father
> hired a man to help me greenbreak him, which is to say, train the horse to
> the extent of putting a saddle on his back and getting into the saddle. From
> that point on, I trained him on my own. I never put a bit into his mouth
> (although when I took him to a place that might be noisy and frightening
> such as a motorcycle race--I kept him in the city while I was in
> highschool--I would sometimes use a hackamore). He threw me a few times
> when we were first getting to know each other well, but never out of
> meanness--he'd always turn around and look at me curiously as though he was
> wondering what I was doing sitting on the ground. After a while, I had only
> to lean slightly to let him know which way I wanted to go. No one else could
> ever ride him--he was fearsome and wild with everyone but me.
> I could go on at great length, but maybe these examples are enough to show
> that I have communicated with non-humans from the time I was a young child
> and that I'm familiar with the different ways in which different animals
> communicate. As you might expect from the rest of what I've said, I was
> also well acquainted with dogs. One in particular, a black lab by the name
> of Henry, was one of my closest childhood friends. Of course, this may say
> as much about the lonely nature of my childhood as about my rapport with
Perhaps. What it does indicate, as you point out, is that you have had
ample opportunities to communicate, or at least share some kind of
bond/connection, with animals other than humans. I've often felt that I
have a very good rapport with animals, especially of the domestic kind.
I don't consider myself a "cat person", quite the opposite in fact. But,
it never fails that whenever I'm at a place that has cats, they flock to
me covering me in their hair. *sigh*
> Anyway, the coyote is a close relative of the dog--in fact the 2 species can
> interbreed & many of the coyote-like animals in the wild seem to be part
> dog, judging by their dogesque singing voices. The animal I cut from the
> fence appeared to be pure coyote.
> I have seen the dog Henry react the same way the coyote did. Once he had a
> small wound which became infested with larvae of the screw worm fly, which
> is apparently now extinct, thanks to the release of thousands of sterile
> males. The screw worm fly would lay eggs in a wound, and when the eggs
> hatched the larvae would eat the flesh of the unfortunate host. Many cattle
> were lost to screw worms. The larvae had eaten a hole about half an inch
> deep in Henry's side, and we had to dig them out with a Q-tip disinfected
> with Lysol. It was obvious that the digging was painful, but Henry lay very
> still and let us work on him. The coyote was the same way. I don't for a
> second believe that she understood my words. Rather, it was the tone of my
> voice, and possibly some other (unidentified) signal that went from me to
> her. Could be smell. I've heard old-timers say that animals can smell
> fear. I know I've smelled fear on humans--their sweat has a peculiar odor
> when they're afraid. Maybe animals can smell friendship as well.
That is quite possible. There have been a number of studies looking at
pheromones and their effects on human behavior. Also, there have been
studies that look at animal communication where the primary tool for
getting across information seems to be chemical/olfactory in nature. The
studies done that look at human/animal communication, are in my opinion,
poorly designed, and often executed even worse. There are some
exceptions most notably within chimp/human communication.
> OK, I think that takes care of all three questions. No formal studies, only
> a lifetime of experience.
Formal studies are never a prerequisite for acceptable discussion. I
hope I didn't give the impression otherwise.
> > Another question for both of us: Is this connection possible
> > with other life forms? Plants and trees are a good example here. Many
> > believe that their plants understand and respond to their
> > communications. Do you believe this is true?
> No, no, no! Ain't gonna get me to go down THAT road, not today anyhow.
> Well, OK, yes I communicate with my damned plants. So be it. What can I
> > Why, or why not?
> OK, here's a simple example. A French mulberry plant tells me it's
> suffering from heat and water stress by drooping its leaves very
> pathetically. Yes, I know it's actually drooping the leaves to prevent loss
> of water vapor through the stomata. But it communicates its condition to me
> nevertheless. I'm not going to try to justify talking to plants. You have
> to BE there, I think.
I think you're probably right about this. I think that communication
with plants is something that I'm not quite ready to think is possible.
> > But hopefully, this latest post is worth starting a
> > new discussion on forms of communication with psychologies very
> > different from ours. Is it even possible/meaningful?
> Well, communicating with non-humans is awfully USEful. What good would a dog
> be if you couldn't communicate with it? Not good for much of anything but
> eating, huh? And I don't even like to eat dogs.
Heh. I've never had dog either. Never had the opportunity. Yes, I
absolutely agree it is useful.
> > What do you think
> > are the factors involved? How would you go about replicating the
> > feelings of connection with the coyote?
> I reckon I'd just go on out in the woods and start communicating with
> someone or other. I'll tell you, though, coyotes are usually pretty
> standoffish. It's not like they'll just come around any old time and chew
> the fat with you. Now the javelinas, they're much more sociable. Only
> trouble is, if you commit a faux pas they're likely to rip you to shreds
> with their razor-sharp canines.
I'll keep that in mind. =)
> Seriously though, when I talk/write with someone, I
> > don't view it as adversarial.
> That's good to know. For some reason, your messages came across as though
> you were, well, poking fun of me for being just a simple country gal;
> especially when you use all those fancy Latin words like "canine" instead of
> just saying "dog". But sometimes us simple country folks know a thing or 2
> about animals.
My apologies. It was never my intent. I hardly think you are "simple".
Canine is Latin? Hrmph. Learn something new everyday.
> If you'd rather
> > have an "argument" I'll oblige, but I'd rather not if it's all the same
> > to you.
> No, I'd rather not have an argument either. Now that's something that's
> likely to interfere with communication, isn't it?
Not in the least. For me, that is. But, perhaps that went without
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