Well cared for domesticated animals almost universally share a common trait, from dogs to barn cats to donkeys to working horses and elephants. They are curious. They are eager to see and grasp what the people in their lives are doing.
Wild animals – deer, raccoons – will flee from anything strange. Domesticated animals are drawn to the strange and the new. If I stand in a corner, Fate and Red will come rushing over to see what I am doing. If I go into the pasture with a rake, the donkeys will come over to sniff it and try and see what it is. When Maria works on the Fiber Chair, the dogs and barn cats invariably come over to see what she is doing.
If you go near the carriage horses in New York with a bag or backpack, the horses want to know what's in it, if you stand close to them, they are likely to smell or study you.
Flo the barn cat gets closer than the others, she is fascinated by Maria's hands working on the Fiber Chair. Fate also sits and watches. When we go out into the pasture, if we are carrying anything new, Chloe the pony and the donkeys will immediately come out and sniff it to see what is. Curiosity is a part of the connection between people and animals.
Written by: Jon Katz