Dear Zenyatta

8 Nov

I am curious to know how you are feeling today.  I started thinking about you when I read an article about the big Breeders’ Cup Classic race at Churchill Downs that you lost by literally only inches.  It said, “One can only imagine how confused she must have been when they led her off to the barns, not the victory circle.”  Were you confused?  Disappointed?  Devastated?  Did you know that you lost the chance for a perfect 20 out of 20 races?  Perhaps you were sad because you sensed the loss through the tears of your loving jockey and owners.

I have never had a close relationship with a horse, but I remember when I was sad and crying,  my dog came by my side and quietly laid her head on my lap in sympathy.  My dog could sense my moods, and I could sense hers.  We were loving companions.  I know from cowboy movies and from a horse stable right  in my retirement community that horses and humans also develop very close relationships.

My connection with wild animals has mostly been through my weekly volunteering at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach.  The sick and injured seals and sea lions brought there for treatment are intelligent, sentient beings that I have been able to observe over the years.  I am not one of them, but I am somehow related.  Although we humans have an annoying tendency to attribute human behavior to animals, I have sensed a level of communication between humans and pinnipeds that is as exciting as it is mystifying.  For one magical afternoon in Scammons Lagoon in Baja California, I interacted with wild gray whales that came up to play with us from our small boat.  There was no doubt it was an intentional encounter on both parts – human and wild sea creature.

Cultural ecologist and environmental philosopher David Abram in his book, “Becoming Animal,” laments how distant many humans feel from nature, including  wild creatures.  Instead of rejoicing in our connections with nature, we deny them or simply don’t see them.  Language has been one of the many ways we have closed our human selves off from the rest of nature.  Neuropsychologist Karen Shanor tries to illuminate for humans the sensitivities of animals in her book, “Bats Sing, Mice Giggle” to appreciate what mostly has remained unknown and unacknowledged.

So, dear Zenyatta, can you find joy and contentment in being  a “once in a lifetime athlete?”  You will undoubtedly continue to be loved and very well cared for.  You have achieved fame and glory in the eyes of humans.  Yes, you are a winner as  well as a loser.  I can only imagine what you feel, but I have no doubt that you do feel deeply.

Sincerely yours,

Another Sentient Being

%d bloggers like this: