The gift of friendship

 In Blog

Everybody is familiar with the popular adage” you cannot choose your family, but you can choose your friends”.Friends are the biggest gift that life could offer. We always expect that our friends will have only two legs and many are surprised to learn that animal’s are man’s best friend. It can seem maybe” childish” or “illogical” for some but those who have animals as friends do know that their bond will last forever.

         The wisdom of children

Children do know the value of an animal friend. Lately, we could watch a video, in Brazil, of a dog playing jumping rope with a group of children.  When we are young, we don’t ask ourselves if something is possible or not, we just do it. Everything is possible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-u9R8BVdrs&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwuLslIpy3A&index=2&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir

Gratitude

One important component of friendship is gratitude. Animals can express their gratitude in many ways. Once, a feral  cat that was grateful to me and a friend, for washing her off from white paint (after she had fallen in white paint in a building site) , looked back to us and said thank you with her eyes, before she disappeared. But, sometimes, animals do adopt humans as their friends, like the little penguin (Dindin) that adopted Joao Pereira de Souza, in Brazil.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6McB0jhPWqs&index=4&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir

Also very well known is the video made by Darius Sasnauskas who helped a fawn in New Yellowstone Park. The fawn was aware of the help and very grateful to him. He had made the little fawn a cast for her leg and she got strong again. She gave him plenty of goodbye kisses.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siOh2Q0xG78&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir&index=5

Darius Sasnauskas loves his animals and writes about adopting a dog:” There is a special bond between a man and a dog, their love is unconditional. The feeling it is not something we want to go a life without experiencing. When we adopt a dog, we save a life of loving animal by making them part of our family and open up shelter space for another animal that might desperately need it. And what we gain is the greatest gift of all; beyond just the deep satisfaction of choosing life…we are choosing love. There is nothing as healing and soul-fulfilling as looking into the eyes of unconditional love….and of course the smiles that come from that feeling make the absolute best selfies! Hudson was with us for 10 years, and he truly was one of the best companions, very gentle, docile, loving, and lovable by everybody including our cats…”  Darius Sasnauskas, 15th of January, 2017

In Argentina, a Condor befriended the veterinarian who cared for him and does not forget to visit him, giving him plenty of loving hugs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A04xtlFfFQ

All animals are grateful when helped and express their gratitude in various forms. This is Dawn, one of the Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary’s 6 resident foxes that cannot be returned to the wild. She was rescued and is so thankful to her rescuer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lKHtNCJRcc&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir&index=26

It is amazing how animals express gratitude and love without fear; they have complete trust, filling the world with positive energy.  We have so much to learn from them.

     Under the sea

Not all of our animal friends live with us, many times they just come to visit us or vice versa. Videographer Gary Grayson got an unbelievable encounter with an Atlantic Grey Seal whilst Scuba diving in the Scilly Islands. In the video, we can see the blind trust that the seal has towards Gary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz5pjXQMhiE&index=17&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir

Differently than humans, wild animals do not see us as “enemies” but more like co-existent beings with whom they are sharing the planet. There is no reason to avoid friendship.

In Greece, we had our own friend seal, Argyro who, unfortunately got murdered by fishermen in 2017. RIP Argyro and please forgive human ignorance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c2KHqpJrQg&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir&index=

In Japan, a fish named Yoriko has befriended a diver. For 25 years, an Asian sheepshead wrasse living off the coast of Japan has been greeting diver Hiroyuki Arakawa whenever he goes to tend an underwater Shinto shrine near Tateyama in Chiba prefecture. Arakawa uses a mallet to strike the shrine like a bell to tell Yoriko that he is visiting him. Mr. Arakawa runs a dive shop near Hasama Underwater Park and manages the shrine in the park. He consistently reports his meetings with the friendly fish, named Yoriko, on his Facebook page, Inhabitat reported. The sweetest testament to their friendship can be seen when Mr. Arakawa greets Yoriko with a kiss when they meet. Yoriko also turns up from time to time when Mr. Arakawa brings divers to see the shrine. The Asian sheepshead wrasse is a pinkish-grey fish with “humps” on its forehead and chin, and is native to the Western Pacific Ocean. The greatest weight recorded for this species of wrasse is about 15kg and reportedly can reach 1m in length.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNQ_BhKSLcw&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir&index=102

Even animals considered dangerous can become friends with humans. Valerie Taylor, the widow of John Josiah Taylor, the famous shark expert, has befriended an eel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IQ2I-P8Ucw

Reptiles

Although believed to have ‘cold blood” and not having feelings, reptiles can also be friendly to humans. Snakes are very curious. Linda Tellington Jones tells in her book (“The Tellington TTouch, caring for animals with heart and hands”) about snakes:”Snakes, I found out, can suffer from loneliness and depression right along with the rest of us, and be equally filled with joy and gratitude. Under the armored skin of the iguana beats a heart as fully capable of affection as that of any furry pet.” Linda Tellington Jones

Many people keep iguanas or snakes as pets and treat them as any friend they could have.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-zGIS-WWZQ&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir&index=7

     “Birds of a feather”

Parrots and other exotic birds have also befriended human beings and kept as pets and part of the family. Chickens ,too,  are capable of loving and befriending people, even after being treated as food for many centuries. My good friend, Claudia, had her first chicken when she was a child in Brazil:

“When I was 3 i went with my grandfather to a Carnival in my hometown São Paulo, Brazil. There was a kiosk that was offering dyed chicks as “prize” for whatever game they had. One of the chicks, dyed pink, was shaking on a corner, despite the October heat and all the lamps on them. When our eyes locked I knew it was suffering. After a lot of talking my grandfather convinced the kiosk guy the chick was ill and had to be removed. Instead of going to the trash can, it went home with me. I named that fragile pink creature Little Theresa.
Little Theresa recovered well and became a huge, white rooster, my first best friend, an intelligent animal, who used to wait for me to come back home. He knew how I was feeling. I was the only one who could hold him for a long time and spent hours with me if i was reading or watching tv or just napping.
The sparkle in his eyes changed the moment he arrived home and my grandmother started to take care of him. His behavior changed me. I learnt so much from him. Patience, care, respect, and the most important: he had a personality. Feelings. He was not in a normal environment for a rooster but still, he adapted and loved me. Was thankful. And respected my grandmother’s kitchen, when she was cooking he knew he couldn’t go inside. His understanding of everything was amazing. I miss him every day.”  Claudia Christian, Canada.

Claudia is not the only lucky person to be loved by a chicken; across the world, there are hundreds of chickens waiting for children to come from school

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_lkVzzd6rE&index=107&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir

Many times, a chicken can be a wonderful friend and even help human beings. Chickens have helped this little girl with autism.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjyLCXXvuWA&index=106&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir

My play buddy!

Friends are here to do all kinds of activities with us, from sports, to cinema or just a quiet night in.

Carmelo Abela, in Malta has a friend that goes diving with him, Titti, in St Peter’s pool. There a deep bond between both human and animal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT4X_2zKIyk&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir&index=14

Denali, the dog of adventure photographer Ben Moon got her own short video film.  This is a film about the bond between Denali the dog and adventure photographer Ben Moon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2zQbsEGh_Q&index=54&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir

   Any size fits

Friends are found in all colors, shapes and sizes. Even elephants can befriend human beings. Lek Chailert has befriended hundreds of elephants in her “Elephant Nature park”, in Thailand. Their connection is so deep that she even sings them lullabies to sleep.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gm1iePcYIX4&index=32&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir

Whales are  much bigger than us. The Moby Dick story paints the species as dangerous and scary, but, in reality, they can be very gentle. There have been hundreds of encounters of humans and whales, when whales try to not kick the humans with their tales. These gentle giants teach us a lesson in respect and love.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuswQuxhbUQ

Big and small, even hummingbirds can be friends with humans and dogs! In Los Angeles, a man rescued a dog who rescued a humming bird who rescued…all of them. The trio has been inseparable since.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzxsagVcKCg&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir&index=36

And a lady in Inverness, Fiona Presley befriended a …bee!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UK1X_m69A1w

    Friends for life

Animals do not forget their friends, especially when they feel grateful for them. After 18 years, chimpanzees Doll and Swing still recognize their old friend, Linda Koebner. From the award-winning film WISDOM OF THE WILD, this excerpt captures the emotional reunion between two former laboratory chimpanzees and the woman who helped them transition to a life without bars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZPZD1JV5QQ&index=39&list=PLIYPY5zizGRURyBsA4vUsQxrEFmZPAAir

Linda Koebner reminds us of what animals teach us: resilience and forgiveness:” It  is important for all of us, as a species to realize that all animals are individuals, and they have feelings and thoughts  and they suffer the pain and the joy that we do; and they are entitled and deserve  an opportunity. ” Linda Koebner

We are never alone. Everywhere, there are beings great and small, fauna and flora, which are here, willing to be our friends, forever. My teacher Anna Breytenbach taught us to respect every little creature, trees and insects.  We all have the right to be in this plane, we all have the right to our life in earth.

 

Bibliography:

“The Tellington TTouch, caring for animals with heart and hands” Linda Tellington Jones

 

 

 

 

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