Monday, May 12, 2008

Soothing A Snow Leopard's Heart

With an intensity that his eyes could not betray, peeking over the big rocks that provide Hercules an air of stealth movement, my first encounter with this majestic Snow Leopard was an experience that would have no words, only feelings. As we slowly moved toward each other, I heard Carole Baskin, founder of Big Cat Rescue, call out to Hercules. Upon hearing her voice, his ears perked up as he jumped vertically in the air and was immediately at her feet, rubbing up against his Cat-A-Tat.

His love for Carole could not be hidden. He purred and for a moment, left his serious personality behind. I started talking with Hercules as he revealed to me what was important to him and how he felt. He opened his heart and shared things only Carole knew and verified. As we talked, I was very impressed that such a big cat had very deep feelings.

We were walking away when Hercules gave me a vision of a statue of some kind of animal. He told me he missed it and wanted it close to him again. Upon describing the statue to Carole, she was amazed because as a kitten, Hercules had a favorite statue that had special meaning to him. The next day, Carole brought the statue to the sanctuary and placed it outside his Cat-A-Tat where it remains today. He was so happy to have it close again. It brought back memories to Hercules of days that he loved and missed. Carole found this picture in a box in her closet that had not seen the light of day for 9 years. It made me cry thinking of the animals that are killed without any thought of them BEING a unique individual with deep emotional lives and big hearts. Hercules wasn't proud. He just missed something that as a kitten made him feel good.

Bongo's Medicine Bag

Bongo started to run crazy as soon as he saw me approaching yesterday. If you know Bongo, that is really nothing unusual as he loves people. I have often commented that I don't know how he can be such a good hunter because he talks so much. This time he was quiet as he leaped through the air, over bushes and around palmetto bushes. It wasn't long before I saw him swatting something and coming towards me.

Bongo had received some enrichment, and even though the bag was torn up, I noticed he was showing me that he was purposely putting some things into his bag. I watched him for a few minutes to make sure this was precisely what he was doing because I thought my mind was playing tricks, but it wasn't. He gave me the vision of a medicine bag like the Native Americans used. I crouched down to see if I could get a glimpse of what he had managed to collect.

There were some of the spices left that the volunteers had stuffed the bag with which included allspice, cinnamon and pumpkin spice. I saw a couple of blades of scented grass that he must have collected as he rolled it around, a small piece of tree root stuck out of a hole he had torn in the bag, some sort of stone clicked another one and a neck bone that he had not finished made his collection complete. He now had gathered his momentos in which he could create magic, and indeed he did. His collection of "charms" warmed my heart and made me appreciate how the small things in life can mix together to give everything a bigger purpose.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Prize

Gathering your equipment is one of the first things you do as soon as you arrive at the sanctuary. Some of the volunteers have their own cleaning buckets and brushes, but none of them have a pooper-scooper. Guests on the tour often ask how we clean the cat's deposits since they don't use litter boxes. Most of the people are impressed when shown the buckets, which consist of plastic buckets that used to contain litter for domestic cats, grill brushes that used to clean a bar-b-que grill and tongs. The question still remains, how do you get the pooh close enough to you to pick it up with the tongs?

Well, the volunteers use long metal "sticks" (pooper-scooper) that have a right angle so they can scrape and pull whatever they need over to them. This could include spice bags used for enrichment, creatures that have made a mistake in getting too close to the cats or anything the cat can find. It can be challenging to reach whatever you see that needs to be picked up especially if you have one of the shorter pooper-scoopers. They come in different lengths and it's not unusual to see a volunteer in a contorted position trying to reach something in a Cat-A-Tat.

As you can see, having the right pooper-scooper is very valuable to a volunteer. So, it's not unusual to hear a "yeah" when a volunteer picks the longest pooper-scooper. There is only one that is double jointed and longer than the others. It doesn't look any different than the others. It doesn't stand out. All of the scoopers are stored laying down vs. standing upright. It's only when you look closely and see the double joint as a smile forms on your face knowing you have succeeded and have picked what is highly sought after-The Prize.

Monday, May 05, 2008

WHAT IF?

The cats ask, "WHAT IF........You were aware and remembered the connections we all have with trees. Would you use "living fences" designed with trees instead of concrete walls to help provide and protect us?"

Friday, May 02, 2008

Saber's Life Giving Gift

Big Cat Rescue was recently informed about a dear supporter who passed quite suddenly. Looking back, one could sit and question if it was suddenly. Life is one fluid movement that is constantly changing and if you listen, awareness presents new information and perspectives that offer opportunities for growth.

One such opportunity presented itself over a year and a half ago. On a tour with this supporter, we stopped at Saber's Cat-A-Tat. The big, black leopard was sitting high on his den watching as we approached. At first you couldn't hardly tell if he was awake, but he raised his head as he knew who was coming. The love this woman had for Saber filled the space around all of us. He was her favorite cat, and she continually talked with him even from her distant home in Chicago. She started asking him questions, when he asked her a big one. "Do you want to live?" Thinking this was an odd question, I hesitated. When Saber asked it again, I knew I had to ask her.

Her eyes grew as big as tea cups and put her finger to her lips to hush me. She quietly asked me to ask him why he asked her this question. Saber preceded to describe a physical condition she had just been diagnosed with. At first, she couldn't understand how he could know since she hadn't told anyone yet, especially him. As we continued to talk, he gave her words of encouragement and inspiration. She asked him how he could help. He provided guidance, and she was grateful.

Saber's encouragement and inspiration kept her going for another year and a half. Her body was tired and when I last talked with her, she asked me if Saber would forgive her for moving on. Love was sent, and she left. The Big Cats freely give of themselves and are always with us, guiding and teaching us to come from our hearts. They are such magnificent creatures who create miracles all the time. Saber gave this woman life like nothing else could. It is the love connection that knows no time or space. We will all miss her.