Patches and me have a first kiss
Each year in the fall, to celebrate the anniversary of the ADA (Americans with Disbilities Act) the city of Jacksonville, Florida and the Jax zoo invite those with disabilities and their loved ones or caretakers to enjoy a day at the zoo. Of course those companies/organizations that help the disabled in any way can have booths throughout the zoo. It is always a blast. This was Mildred's first year to go...first time at the zoo.
I remembered back to the first time we went to the zoo with only Patches...she had a not so good intro into the zoo world. First of all she saw a bear and got in front of me to protect me...or so I thought. She turned and faced me and immediatley released her bowels. It looked like we were at the elephant enclosure. Second she had an "encounter" with the chimpanzees -- one came running across the yard and jumped onto the window. Patches almost took out a 3 year old when she spun to leave. Third...the Jaguar.
But before I can do this part justice I have to say something about Patches...she was a "soft" dog...she didn't like to be corrected at all. She probably would have prefered a beating to a harsh word. Still, it had been a few months since I had used the pinch collar on her...but I thought with all the distractions (kids, critters, sights and smells) that she would need the pinch to make sure she didn't hurt me.
Back to the Jaguar. The enclosure is awesome... very realistic in the placement of large rocks, trees, etc. Wayne Weaver, who has the NFL Jaquar team, paid for the Jag enclosure. My favorite part is that the entire front of the exibit is glass...heavy duty glass. Patches didn't know there was glass...when the jaguar jumped down and approached in a "what in the world? That's different" type of approach...not a crouching, slinking, "I think I would like dog for lunch" way. He was about 10 feet from Patches when she noticed him...she hit the end of the leash (I am sure she thought about me...in the "I can find a new person" way) and the pinch collar closed up.
Patches had a one dog, dog fight -- thinking the cat had her. I said "settle" over and over, calmly and quietly. The zoo keepers were running in as fast as they could because of the noise she was making. People gathered all around to watch what was happening. I asked them to help by saying calmly, settle. Pretty soon, in a zen like moment, there was a group of about 30 people chanting, calmly, "settle". Finally Patches stopped and looked at me. Then she looked for the Jag. I came FIRST!! smiles...since none of the animals had gotten to her she must have figured out they were in some kind of enclosure.
We were going further through the zoo when we came across the gorilla enclosure and she actually went to the window. The silverback saw her and came over quietly, not making eye contact, then pressed his shoulder on the glass. Patches didn't move until I told her he only wanted to see how beautiful she was and make a friend. Slowly, Patches leaned forward until her nose touched the glass...then the silverback slowly moved his hand to "pet" her through the glass. After that there was a short distance (about the width of the glass) romance between the two. The first and last stop was always the gorilla enclosure after that. He would pet her through the glass and she would kiss his hand. People took pictures of the two of them. We took pictures but our computer crashed with the pictures along for the crash.
I hoped that Mildred could meet the big guy...to see if he would love her as well. But the enclosure had been changed and we couldn't get close to him. Perhaps next time...
Great story, Viki - would love to hear what happens next time! Thanks so much for writing this up... Jo