Monday, June 28, 2010
All about Kai (Part 2) -or- Kai and the donkeys...and me
Any time an animal is removed from a herd (flock, gaggle, pack, pod), the dynamics of the remaining herd always changes. Behaviors change, dominant roles shift, and new relationships form. I watched this happen when I ran a satellite adoption center for foster donkeys in 2008, I saw it when we added Beau to our family in January 2010, and I'm a first-hand witness to it again now.
Since our family here on Critter Farm was reduced by two a little over a week ago, our small herd's dynamic has changed in two immediately obvious ways:
1) There seems to be far less (llama) spitting going on and
2) There are no longer two distinct and separate groups roaming the pastures.
Less immediately visible is that the interesting social behaviors between Kai and Chester and Beau, the donkeys, that I first noticed a number of months ago, have increased.
Kai now completely trusts Beau, preferring to eat with him at mealtimes:
Beau is the steady, gentle soul who never refuses to share. Here he is sharing with not only Kai, but Chester, too:
It is, however, Kai and Chester's relationship that I find most fascinating:
They do this a lot:
I also frequently find them grazing together, much closer than two animals should who previously tried to avoid each other. There is a lot of room on our property - there's no necessity for them to stand quite so close:
I've seen Kai on more than one occasion seek Chester out:
Just to sniff him:
And he will freeze whatever he is doing, and let her sniff for as long as she likes:
That's not to say, however, that if the situation is reversed and Chester is the one doing the approaching:
that she won't let him know - in very clear terms - that he has crossed the line:
Kai's curiosity and interest seems to be growing daily. She is now second in line to check out any newcomers to their pasture:
She also seems to enjoy watching the donkey boys chase and wrestle with each other. The poor and blurry quality of the next photo is due to my great surprise at Kai joining in on one of Chet and Beau's "running games":
Personally, I have a hard time resisting these guys:
so, if it could work out that she loves them, too:
well, this would just be the icing on the cake.
As for her human interaction, Kai continues to come out of her shy shell. It has been baby steps with her from the very beginning:
Lately, she has begun seeking me out:
and engaging with me in ways she previously wouldn't have:
I was lying in the pasture the other day and she got up from where she was kushing and came to graze beside me. This made my heart swell:
She *really* doesn't care to be touched - by anybody or anything, and we're still working on the whole haltering-without-great-upset thing, but that's ok. We're taking things slowly.
Not a day goes by that she doesn't make me smile:
I hope she likes being here as much as we like having her: