Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Deep Bond Takes Time

Almost everyone has heard about someone that has shared an intense bond with some animal companion, be it a parrot, dog, goat, or fish. Perhaps you have had one yourself. However, I also know many people can feel somewhat discouraged by these stories, if they do not immediately experience a true connection with their new pet. It can be very tempting to get irritated, or perhaps blame your animal, or the species of animal, as somehow not as good, as intelligent, as others. Personally, I think this is hogwash, just my opinion. Those that have an immediate bond, and one that is returned, not simply a one-sided human ego affair (you know when it happens, trust me) are quite lucky. However, bonds that take time to develop are no less real and no less incredible.

As an example, when I got Gwen, my then 6 year old ex-breeder chihuahua mix from the pound, she very quickly settled in with me. In fact, I was frequently told how amazing her immediate claim to me as her new person was. She was fairly protective of me, and clearly valued my company. She did not want to be far from me for long at all, and had separation anxiety. That said, it was not a deep bond. She liked me, but..... it was just not the same. I could tell, and so could close family that saw her with me a lot, that she was somewhat aloof. I was the best she had, but she was not truly bonded to me. She was taking care of herself. As an example, when I was sick, she really seemed to care less, in fact, I would get complaints if I interrupted her beauty sleep throwing up in the night- she moved off the bed and across the room, taking a blanket with her. Not exactly normal behavior for a doggie companion of an ill person, is it? Overall, throughout the day, as much as I loved her, and she seemed to like me, it was clear there was no deep bond, just a friendly friendship. So basically, she decided to like me fairly quickly, in a day or two, but for a very long time, that was as far as it got.

When I had had Gwen for about a year, I was away from her (health reason again) for about a week. Prior to that, we had never been apart for more than an hour or two, and that only a couple of times. I had continued to treat Gwen like the little princess she is for that year, and tried to get past her block, but I had had no luck. When I saw her again after being away for a week, though, that had all changed. Gwen was so excited to see me (not that I did not return the sentiment!) and it was very clear from then on that things had changed. She is no longer just a guard dog, but a personal body guard- and by this I do not mean a nippy chihuahua, just to be clear! She learned on her own that chemicals were a problem for me (or perhaps she had already known and not bothered about it) and would go on alert when she noticed something. She did not allow anyone that she felt was, erm, contaminated (speaking MCS-wise here) near me, even if they were otherwise well-loved and welcomed people. If I started to get upset, she was right there in my lap, licking me. And, just for the record, I never heard another complaint if I got sick in the night. One of her ears is always tilted towards me to listen. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. It was no longer a one-sided affair, Gwen and I were, and are, extremely, extremely close. I am not even going to begin to describe what she means to me, this blog is just not the place for that, quite frankly.

Moral of the story? Don't give up. This does apply to parrots, after all, if it took this long to bond with a friendly and loving dog, you can easily imagine a parrot could take even longer, it depends both on the individual bird as well as what he or she was been through. Claudia and I had a near instant connection that is almost eerie, whereas my bond with Yo-yo, while just as incredible, took a couple months, and some have taken even longer. I do not have such a relationship with Clementine yet, she settled in quite quickly, and we get along wonderfully just as I did with Gwen when she first arrived, so I will just wait and anything more is just gravy. Trust me, whatever side you are on about those stories of being instantly chosen, bonds formed over much longer periods, with hard work or simply a lot of patience, are just as strong, and just as life changing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had to dogs, whom I loved dearly, before I lost my last one we had just bought an African grey, he was still a baby, weaned etc I instantly fell head over heels in love with him, he was also a great comfort to us when we sadly lost remaining dog, this bird is loving and affectionate it's sort of unreal, he does have his moments. But you can form an intense bond that seems sort of strange like you say with a bird. Thank you for your write up it's brilliant.