Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Dog Who Loves Organ Music

Bailey arrives at the Jordan Keyboard Studio

I grew up with a great dog -- a wonderful black lab and Dalmatian mix named Bingo!  He was one of those dogs who was a best friend and a great playmate.  He always seemed to have a smile and was always ready for a new adventure.

These days, because of our travels with our organ and media event performances, my husband and I don't have a pet, but I continue to be partial to bigger dogs with happy personalities, a wagging tail, and that ever present "smile."

Several years ago a new student started organ lessons in my home studio.  It wasn't long before I discovered that her dog tagged along for the lessons and patiently waited the hour in the car for her return.

Following a lesson one day, I met the patiently waiting dog--a yellow lab with a happy personality, that wagging tail, and that ever present "smile."  I was smitten and Bailey was invited to leave the car and join us in the music room for the weekly organ lessons.

Bailey now eagerly makes the weekly 30-minute trek to our home.  She rushes up the front steps excitedly barking to let us know she has arrived.  We open the door to Bailey's happy dog smile and give her a few moments of petting and attention.  It's then off to the music room where Bailey settles in for yet another hour of glorious organ music. 

Bailey smiles through another great organ lesson

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

An Orphaned Baby Elephant

 Knowing my love of elephants and my experiences at the elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka, a friend recently sent this article to me.  It is so touching I decided to share it with all the readers of my Elephants, Kangaroos, and More blog.  Enjoy.       ...Jeannine

An orphaned baby elephant named Moses is raised by a human mother

Denis Farrell / AP
Seven-and-a-half month old orphaned elephant calf named Moses cuddles with his adoptive 'mother' and foundation owner, Jenny Webb, at their home in Lilongwe, Malawi.

By the Associated Press
Lots of mothers wake in the middle of the night to feed their babies, but not many get up to give a bottle to an infant elephant.
Jenny Webb adopted a baby boy elephant who was just a few weeks old in February. The orphaned elephant calf was named Moses after being found in the grasses of a riverbed by game rangers at Vwazi Wildlife Reserve in northern Malawi.

Rangers tried to find his family herd for two days without success, said the 48-year-old Webb, adding that the calf's mother was likely killed by elephant poachers. The illegal killing of elephants is rife in Africa, with conservation groups saying that tens of thousands of elephants are being killed each year for their ivory tusks.

Malawi's national parks did not have the funds to raise the young elephant, so Webb, the founder of the Jumbo Foundation an orphanage for large animals, took on the job of caring for the little pachyderm.

Moses weighs 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and each day he drinks 24 liters (6.3 gallons) of an infant formula that is boosted with coconut milk and 14 other ingredients.

Denis Farrell / AP
'Elephants are extremely sensitive,' said Webb. 'It amazed me. We think of elephants as big, strong creatures but they are very emotional. Moses picks up on my feelings. If I am sad, he is nurturing. If I am angry, he quickly gets upset.'

Webb has placed a mattress on the dining room floor where she and Moses curl up for the night. Moses gets up about every two hours and shuffles around the room until Webb wakes and gives him his bottle feed.  In the mornings, as Webb has a coffee and watches television, Moses throws his trunk over her shoulder and nuzzles his head against her. 
In the wild, a baby elephant would shelter underneath his mother to be shielded from the sun and remain warm and safe. To emulate this, Webb puts a blanket over Moses. His still tender hide is also protected with sunscreen and moisturizer.

Caring for the baby elephant is a 24-hour job. Webb gets help from two employees Matimat Julius and Jim Tembo. All three take turns playing with Moses and using their arms to sweep the dust, the way a mother elephant would do with her trunk.

Denis Farrell / AP
Moses on a walk with Webb's dogs. 'The dogs are like his herd,' she said. "He socializes with them in the day and likes going for walks with them. He quickly established dominance with them. But at night, he herds the dogs outside. He doesn't like to sleep with the dogs. He likes to sleep with the cats, and me."

Like many toddlers, Moses likes to go outside and Webb takes him on daily walks with the family dogs. As soon as the sun goes down, Moses lies next to Webb on the makeshift bed.

In a few weeks, Moses is expected to start eating hay, grass, bark and horse feed along with his formula. He has started putting grass and leaves in his mouth but he is not yet eating them. By the time he is four he will stop having formula and will be eating vegetation. And when he is five, Webb plans to reintroduce Moses to life in the wild, possibly in the national park where he was found.
Webb wants to make Moses "an ambassador for elephants" to educate people against wildlife poaching.

Raising Moses has been challenging, said Webb, "but it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have raised children, and this is very similar, but you can't put an elephant in a pram (stroller)."

Webb said that raising Moses gave her the idea to start an orphanage for other animals.
"When we got Moses we found there is a desperate need for an orphanage for large animals. Elephants, hippos, buffalo, rhinos ... there is no place for those babies to go if their parents are killed," she said. "There are some places in Zambia and Kenya, but no place here in Malawi, so that is what I am working for."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pelicans, Sea Lions, and Seagulls

Fall has returned to the beautiful Oregon coast.  The rain is gently falling, the skies are cloudy and gray, and the waves of the mighty Pacific crest and curl in an even and gentle rhythm.  It is the season of transition between the gloriously sunny summer (that has continued this year into October) and the wild, windy, rainy weather with the crashing surf of a coastal winter.

The wildlife of the beach also seem to be in transition.  Flocks--or a brief, pod, pouch, scoop, or squadron as I learned they are called--of pelicans follow each other evenly spaced in single file just inches above the cresting waves.  They wheel in unison then suddenly spy just below the surface of that mighty ocean a delightful dinner and fold their wings and dive, surfacing and joining the line-up once again with supper in that dinner pail of a beak pouch.

The sea lions have also been fishing in our waters.  Their sleek heads appear above the surface of the ocean as if to check their bearings, then just as suddenly they disappear looking for that elusive salmon.  Some mornings they seem to follow us up the beach keeping up with us or jaunting ahead and reappearing just to let us know they are still in our midst.
The seagulls gather in groups as if they are in school preparing themselves for the mighty winds that will rake our beach in the coming months.  The junior birds, our Jonathan Livingstons, have gotten their bright white plumage, have learned their distinctive call, and show off flying high in the air surveying the beach for miles around.

Fall on the Oregon coast--a time to be treasured!

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