Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Arlo shines in the spotlight and a shift occurs

No words needed
Arlo has felt the power of love, of being touched. Yesterday we had a wonderful first therapy session of the summer season, and it was Arlo's first official group get together. He was a star! He behaved very well, and lasted about 30 minutes before getting itchy young llama syndrome, but I was really proud of him, and me I guess–all our work together paid off and we still have a lot to do together but he was very good. What was most wonderful is he enjoyed it, and gravitated to people, gave kisses, and wowed everyone with his long neck and soft wool.

It was a new group of elders and most of them were in walkers or wheelchairs, one woman was blind, some had difficulty speaking due to stroke [I assume], but even those people were able to communicate their joy around the animals. The group could not have been sweeter, and responsive to their outing-they were very happy to be there. They came all the way from Camden, which is up the coast about an hour. One of the women had grown up on a farm, and had a horse, which she had named "Pony" because she was only four years old, so she communed with Boone a lot. I was so pleased to have five volunteers, which made it possible for the first time to have Boone and Teapot in the paddock, then we brought Matilda and Paco into the orchard first. Matilda loves people and is usually very calm and special at these things, but she and the minis have become a bit herd bound so she was wondering why she was there alone, and she also liked the grass. So she did great, but I felt bad they didn't get a better sense of her true gifts. They loved her, and her deep eyes. They told her she was beautiful. Then I went and brought the little goats out, which was a hit because they all ran in and it was a fun scene for everyone. We brought Ollie out on a lead too, and he was very happy to partake. And then, I went and got Arlo.

I left Luna in the barn, since I knew it might distract him, and Luna is a real worrier. I could hear her humming the whole time. Argo came in and I let him stand and look at all the people and wheelchairs for a few minutes, and then he did his thing. One by one we visited each person, and he reached down to touch their faces. There were a couple times where I got verklempt, not only because it felt like Birdie was there, but also, I was just so proud of him. I have been training him not to lean into me, and he has been very good, but a few times he came to me for reassurance, and it was ok. He just did great.

Once again, I saw the power of how animals opening people up to share story–and how sharing story opens us all up to listening to others, learning and seeing our common grounds. By sharing story, the elders feel heard, and we all want to be heard.

At the end of the day I asked everyone if they had a favorite animal on the visit..."the llama".

I returned Arlo to the field with Luna, and let the donkeys out too. Arlo proceeded to chase everyone around, to the delight of the guests. He then went into a young male romp, rolling, head and neck twirls like llamas do, and the guests -all lined up in the chairs-sat watching, oohing and awing like we were at a parade with fireworks.

It was such perfect way to start his career. I told him so many times that night that I was proud of him. I also sensed that night when I went out to feed, that our relationship had shifted ever so slightly, like it does when you work with an animal as a team. I sensed he 'got it'.

And so, it begins.

Boone communed with a woman that had a horse as a child

They told Matilda she was beautiful

Arlo's career begins

I felt Birdie at any times

Ollie examines the oxygen cord as Opie looks on