Desire – noun. A strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.
On the 23rd of January 2015 we opened our hearts and farm gates to Snoopy, an adorable little palomino miniature horse. Unfortunately for Snoopy, she suffers from all that is wrong with selective breeding for a single trait, in her case this is being small. With a limited gene pool dwarfism is not that uncommon in the miniature pony breed. As renowned author and Professor of Animal Science, Temple Grandin states, “If you over-select for a single trait, you are going to cause problems in the animal.”
While Snoopy’s big bug eyes, knock-knees and large forehead make her look rather cute, sadly these conditions will herald health issues and make her frail beyond her years.
Despite these things, it was our desire to give little Snoopy the best and safest life possible. Not quite wrapping her in cotton wool, we kept her close by the barn so we could watch her every move, walking her to a luxurious straw filled stable each night so no harm could befall her.
Snoopy soon told us she had other desires. Whether it was a distant whinny, whether it was a smell that hit her tiny nostrils or whether it was some sixth sense that fuelled Snoopy’s desire, we do not know. But what we do know is that Snoopy disappeared one day.
It took a fine-toothed comb search of the farm to locate her some distance away outside the gates of the sanctuary’s resident equine herd. A very long walk back to the barn followed, as walking is most certainly not Snoopy’s forte at the best of times, and certainly not in the disgruntled state she was. Placing the forlorn pony in her stable for the night, we offered the words, “It’s for the best sweet girl.”
Next, dumbfounded humans pondered just how Snoopy made it down that far with several gates closed en-route. The same scenario happened the next day and the next and so ‘spies’ set out to see how Snoopy managed such a difficult feat even for an abled-bodied pony.
Seeing the determined little lady navigate her way down a narrow treed lane, over fallen branches and pushing through a mesh panel was a true testament to her ingenuity and yes, her desire.
Many people say that animals are dumb. The only thing that is dumb is our perception of them. Desire lurks long within we humans, it is what motives us, moves us, makes us complete and it exists in other animals with whom we share the planet.
Footnote to this story; Snoopy now lives with our herd of ponies, no cotton wool in sight. Sure, we could have kept her safe in a rarified world, maybe even extended her life a little, but that would not have been a world of her choosing. And so we constantly check on our new friend, but realise that a life truly worth living is one where we take chances, one where we open the gates, maybe even skin our knees and one where little ponies live out their true desires.