January 7, 2012
Several months after Bella's passing, we are still reminded of how much she meant to everyone who loves The Sanctuary. We've received hundreds of cards from sympathetic supporters, and they continue to arrive daily in the Hohenwald mail. Her biggest fan and friend, Tarra, continues to cope with her grief from the loss, but her Caregivers at Asia have recently seen her resume her old carefree habits. While, of course, Tarra's reluctance to wander the habitat this winter could have been related to the cold weather and her interest in staying near a nice warm barn, Caregivers were very pleased to see her recently undertaking her lengthy jaunts again, roaming nearly all of the 2200 acres available to her for adventuring!
On a recent excursion, Tarra was spotted in Marcella's Pasture, near Bella's grave. Elephants have been known to revisit grave sites of family members years later, and grieving is a necessary part of the healing process. However, even out of the worst tragedy, hope always prevails, and Tarra will experience this, too. She has not chosen to cultivate a companionship with any of the other dogs at the barns, and pays no attention to them. Instead, she has chosen to spend her time vocalizing and socializing with her loving elephant sisters.
The other morning Caregiver Laurie witnessed Tarra pass right by some alluring treats to greet her sisters Sissy and Winkie in the North Yard. “Tarra pass up treats??” Laurie asked incredulously, “There must have been some seriously urgent lovin' needed!” Tarra, Sissy, and Winkie settled in after the warm greeting and quietly grazed together in their Sanctuary. It's so lovely to see Tarra basking in the camaraderie of her elephant herd. The same day, Sissy was napping while Winkie watched over her, and Laurie brought out piles of hay for Tarra and Shirley. After a few moments, Shirley and Tarra adjusted their hay piles so that they could dine nearer to each other.
Yesterday morning, Caregiver Clint came in the barn to see if the Girls were ready to go outside and enjoy the warm sunny day, and discovered Winkie and Tarra sharing hay between their stalls. Remarkably, Tarra and Winkie's heads were pressed tightly together as if they were resting on one another. It has become fairly common to find Winkie sharing a little hay with Tarra, but this level of closeness is unusual. In recent days Winkie has been spotted letting Tarra take hay off of her back after she's thrown it there; we marvel as the bond between Winkie and Tarra strengthens daily before our eyes.
Lately, the beautiful and mild sunny days in Tennessee have been warming everyone's spirits. When Sissy and Winkie left the barn yesterday and reunited outside in the sunshine there were lots of excited vocalizations, pops and wooshes from Sissy, and even a little trumpet from Winkie! Eager to enjoy the mild winter weather, they ventured out into the habitat to find the hay that Clint had placed for them, leaving Tarra and Shirley to munch on the hay close by the pond.
Caregivers were contemplating today about how devoted Sissy and Winkie are to each other, despite their differences in personalities. Sissy is a joyous elephant, always happy to greet her Caregivers with a pop pop noise and some excited ear flaps. Winkie's greetings can be a little more mischievous; if a Caregiver is close by and she wants their attention, she immediately goes over to the water trough and fills her trunk. If her Caregivers are onto Winkie's game and acknowledge her with, “Are you going to squirt me?” a deflated Winkie will release the water from her trunk harmlessly on the barn floor with a splash. If the Caregivers don't see her coming, watch out – they're going to get a good soaking!
Our magnificent Girls continue to inspire and encourage us with their generous spirits. Every passing day brings us new insight into the fascinating complexity and depth of character of each individual, and we are so grateful that after years of adversity, they are now able to spend the rest of their lives in Sanctuary.