Today’s Guest Blogger is Gunilla Wachtel. Further info on her work is at the end of the post.
Sometimes I’m told that I have an almost magical way of connecting with animals. I usually just answer; really I do? To me, it’s something natural that has evolved more and more over the years. Animals have been there for me every time. When I’ve been sad and had no one that I was ready to talk to, there were the animals. When I am happy they are there to cheer me on. When I am not feeling well, they are there to try and make me feel better. They don’t judge. They don’t care if you are skinny or fat, rich or poor. They see you.
Horses have been an integral part of my life. I have loved horses since before I can remember. Yeah, my crib had horse décor. Woot. For several years now I have not been able to afford to go horseback riding on a regular basis. It is my hope that one day I can afford my own horse. Yes, I know how expensive they are to keep. I’ve worked with horses and done many years of horseback riding. I keep my connection with horses a lot through my artwork. For animals most my experience is mostly with horses, dogs, and cats. I love all animals and they’ve been a big part of my life as well. Most of my art have to do with animals, horses more than other animals I guess if you look at it.
I would like to think though that these tips could be applied to any domestic animal, but you will have to be the judge yourself on this. You know your animals better than I do.
I can’t really explain exactly how I connect with animals the way I do, but I will do my best to try to give you an idea of how you can connect more with animals. And perhaps, have that bond that you have with your animals already be deeper. A bond that only those who have experienced it can truly understand.
You would think this goes without saying, but I dare to say it does not. A lot of people try to be someone they are not when they meet other people, which sometimes translates to their interactions with animals as well. I tend to be a pretty no-nonsense person. I say what I think (in a nice way usually) and in essence, what you see is what you get. I think this is the reason some people don’t like me, however, most animals seem to, so whatever, right?
You can’t put up a fake front with animals. I mean, you could… technically, but in most cases, they will see right through you. One of the things a lot of people like about animals is that they accept you for who you are. They might not like you, but they are not going to pretend to like you to get something out of it.
Be Kind and Gentle
I’m not talking about just say nice things here. Again, be yourself, but, actually, be kind and gentle. For some animals (and you have to judge it by the situation and the individual) you have to be extra kind and gentle. They might not trust you yet, or have had some experience in the past to have a reason not to trust you or people in general. Give it time, be consistent and be nice. Let the animal show you the way.
Respect and Observe
Respect and understand the animal. Respect their boundaries. Observe their behavior. Not all animals are created equal. They are individuals just like humans are. What works with one, might not work with another.
Appreciate their Intelligence
It still baffles me how many people don’t realize how intelligent most animal species are. Some of them are much smarter than humans. Just because their environment, speech, and culture are different, it doesn’t mean they are any less smart than us. Most the time, animals understand us better than we do them.
Communicating with animals could be thought of as a way to learn a different language, to speak with someone from a different culture, a different background. Develop your intuitive skills and feelings more if possible.
I hear and read pretty often that animals do not understand the words we say. Of course, you can teach animals commands they say, and they will learn short words etc. I don’t really know what to say about this. To me, I know most the time they do understand. Especially when it’s your own animals. Sure they might also interpret your moods, body signals etc. (which is part of the unspoken language, though!) as part of it.
For our animals (and any animals I’ve ever had or known), I’ve always spoken to them almost as I would speak to a human. Sure I teach them commands and such too, but I also speak to them as they are an integral part of the pack, because they are. They are our fur babies, our friends, our family. Many of them understand long sentences, respond to what we say etc.
Know Your Animals
You need to know your animals. To fully understand them, you need to not only observe your animal itself but increase your knowledge about their language, their culture, what makes them work. Observe your own animals too, but also read books, articles and learn from other people you know that are familiar with them.
In summary, be yourself. Animals will see you for who you are anyways. Be true. Love them. They will be able to tell. Be grateful for them. Spend some extra time with them when you can, even if you are busy. They make time for us.
About Today’s Guest Blogger: As an animal artist, Gunilla Wachtel understands the importance of being able to connect with your animals. She enjoys creating animal art and through her artwork convey the beautiful essence of animals. She writes about animals and animal artwork on her blog. You can follow her on Google Plus to read more of her work.