As Polly scoots at breakneck speed to the barn, her turbo-charged buddy Snuffles zips past, and although we do not have access to their brains, we know enough about them and the similarities they hold to our own to safely say both are motivated by what lies ahead – their dinner.
As the well-rugged-up baby Agatha Lamb takes a step forward towards our hand, we know there is another warmth that motivates her to do so. The warmth she craves of human touch around her muzzle. Her lowered ear position and relaxed body stance cannot lie that it feels good. And if you were to gently place a stethoscope to her chest you would find another confirmation of this: her lowered heart rate.
Steady Eddie, our caprine star, gently nips our jacket, and having our full attention he locks his eyes on ours. Then, with the gentle move of his head upwards towards the tree, he takes our gaze with him. Motivated to do so by his desire for his quarry, those succulent green leaves, which he needs our assistance to land. Mission accomplished, he wobbles off as a thought bubble appears above his head, “With patience and kindness, and sometimes too a gentle nip, those humans can be trained to do almost anything”.
The sight of over 40 full-grown and named sheep, in all of their glorious shapes, sizes and colours, racing full flight down the hill, the tails (of those who have them) dancing wildly in the breeze, as the distance between predator and prey species diminishes rapidly by the second, is something that never ceases to amaze the human throng.
With undeniable smiles on their faces, “what motivates them to do so?” is something many ask. And whilst the answer is often the wheetbix treat in one’s hand, often too it is simply to hold space with our kind. The latter an ever-potent reminder that “it is their world too.”
All of which should be more than motivation enough for us to see that at the heart of it all, the animals of this world are not automatons simply responding to stimuli, for the biological continuity that runs through us all informs that what motivates animals is the very thing that motivates us – the belief that something better lies ahead.
With this in mind and heart, now is the time for all of us to stand in the truth of our humanity, as kind and noble beings, and ensure they find it. For, given the atrocities we humans have visited upon them over the ages, they most certainly now deserve it.