As far as I can remember, my fascination with animals began at an early age and continues to this day. I have had pets for a good part of my life and enjoy their companionship, playfulness, adoration of me, simpleness and complexity. Dealing with dogs and cats can be both simple or complex depending on the situation. Watching shows on television such as Animal Planet, National Geographic, the Oasis channel and the dog whisperer are entertaining. I have numerous books about cats, dogs and horses and still have a copy of Charlotte's Web. This first picture to the right is not my pet though it would have been interesting to live with this creature in my house. The photo was taken when I was a teenager. She was a cheetah owned by a woman who used her for promotional events and other commercial venues. I got the chance to spend some time with her one afternoon. She put up with me petting for awhile and then she had enough. She lifted her paw and gently swatted me across the face. I am sure this was gentle according to her power and strength. She kept her nails in so no harm was done. The stories I remember about her include no birds came into the backyard because she would go after them; you couldn't bother her while she was eating out of her food bowl - she was protective of her food; and she slept on the same bed with her owner. I am not sure about sharing my bed with a big cheetah. The cheetah was not my only encounter with an exotic cat, I have met a black leopard while in university and that animal was a bit more wild.
After not having been to the exhibition fair for many years, I had to go this year because of the animal shows. Most people go to the fair for the food and rides but not me. The lions were the big draw. Where under one venue could I get to see lions, butterflies, dogs and raptors as we don't have a zoo or a eco-park? I told my DH that we just had to go and to be there when the gates opened. As the various shows were spread out over the venue and had different start times I figured out where we had to be for what time.
The first show to visit was the butterfly exhibition. The show was walking with butterflies in a tented off area. I have walked in tented off areas with butterflies before but it is always neat to see butterflies close up and have them land on you. Their colours and sizes are interesting to watch with their delicate wings. We had to monitor our time in order to walk to the area where the "walking with lions" show was being held. There was limited time to browse all of the junk food stands (I swear people go to the fair just for the food) as I was worried there would be people already seated in the stands half an hour before the show started. I was not disappointed. We got one of the few seats left and sat in the baking sun watching the lions in their cages (located in a semi) laying around and looking lazy before the show started. The half hour show was interesting including that they have one of few male white lions in the world. His name is Lufuno. You forget how big the lions are until you see them close up. You also think to yourself, would I want that job of being the trainer in the pen with those lions? I contemplated spending $20 to have my picture taken after the show with the male lion who actually was behind a plexiglass as there is a safety issue. After seeing the line-up and plexiglass I decided to skip this picture event.
With stomachs growling we had big decisions to make on our food choices. I know many of you would have gone for the corn dog but my arteries said no, so the smokie on a bun was the pick. Along with an expensive lemonade we were set to go find the agility dogs. I know this crew of handlers and dogs as I have taken numerous classes with some of these handlers and I participate in an agility league. The show was great and it is more fun when you know the personalities of both the handlers and the dogs. Regrettably I don't think my dog and I are ready for prime time shows. He has no honor and would take off on me and leave my side to go smell sometime that caught his fancy. As the show was being held in the same area as cattle and horse shows are held, I am sure that there are remnants of smells that would drive a retriever to distraction.
As we had some time before going to the birds of prey/raptor show, we walked over to the area where the rides are. You don't need to go on these rides - watching people go and down at fast speeds, upside down, on a variety of rides, gets your stomach up already totally on its own. The speed of the rides, line-ups, screams and heat was enough for us and we made our way to the building with the birds. Again, the bleachers were filled but we found two seats and settled in to wait for the show to start. There were four different birds brought out and they all flew without a tether to the handler who had pieces of raw chicken in her gloved hand. The only bird that stayed tethered and which she paraded around was a golden eagle. That breed is the largest north american bird of prey. It looks big but only weighs 10 pounds. What was impressive was its long and sharp talons. You can see why they can pick small animals.
So today I walked with butterflies, lions, dogs and raptors. Quite the day to remember. Until next time.....