Time and again, we are shown the special relationships which people and animals form with one another - often at the initiation of the animal. And scientists still act astonished at "proof" of things like animal intelligence, empathy, communication and humor. For those of us who work with, live with or are sensitive to the animal world, their 'epiphanies' seem ridiculously self-evident. The human-animal bond is profound and real.
I listened to an NPR story this morning about a Korean elephant, Koshik, who has learned to speak a few words of Korean in order to communicate with his keepers. The elephant has been deprived of the normal herd dynamic as he has matured, only having human keepers as company. The elephant has found a unique way to use his trunk, inserted into his mouth, to form the words it hears most often, with inflections. And still, the scientists interviewed were SO skeptical that this was possible until studying the animal at length. Really? Are they so removed from emotion and the evidence before them that they cannot conceive of such things without all kinds of tests? Elephants are incredibly emotional animals and we learn more about that aspect all the time. Dolphins are equally sensitive and communicative. For more information, here is a link about Koshik and the researchers: http://news.discovery.com/animals/elephant-speaks-korean-121101.html
I read 2 books early in life which affected me strongly because the authors wrote about animals in the way that I experienced them. It was reassuring to read of someone else feeling as I did about communicating with the natural world on a deep level that didn't fall in to "accepted" forms. The books are still in print (!) as I found out when I checked tonight:
My family had always been supportive of my sensitivity - we were taught about nature and respecting and nurturing it from an early age - but once I started school I found that friends, teachers and other adults definitely made me feel odd and tried to stop my "strange ideas". Even then, I knew they were wrong because not only the support of my family but the evidence of my own experience told me so. I became quiet about my beliefs on the subject, but I didn't ever change my mind.
Animals and the natural world stayed in my heart and goals. I've been a veterinary technician for 24 years now. I worked as a volunteer and then as a biology assistant at the Seattle Aquarium for 5 years; I've been a wildlife rehabilitator and serve as a volunteer for the Washington state Veterinary Emergency Corps. to respond to animal and agricultural crises in times of disaster. I am passionate about working for and helping those who cannot act for themselves.
Some links regarding the human - animal bond: