Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Animal Writes - #Train4Rewards Blog Party

I'm participating in the #Train4Rewards Blog Party! And you're invited. Click the button and you will be whiskered away to a gathering of animal lovers reinforcing rewards-based training.

Nella after acclimating a bit to life with humans. 
Here's the story I'd like to share:

Meet Nella, she's the muted calico pictured above. Muted refers to her coloring, not her personality. Nella came to live with us via Catalyst for Cats, a nonprofit dedicated to helping stray and feral cats in Santa Barbara County. I'm on the board of Catalyst for Cats and help with publicity.

When 3-year-old Nella came to live at our house, only one word was used to describe her: MEAN! I think family, friends, visitors, and neighbors wanted to use other descriptors but were too polite.

After a few months, we could actually pet Nella without getting bitten or scratched. A few more months and we could pick her up. Later on, she'd sit next to us on the couch to be pet, and then eventually strike us. Slowly and surely, she became more lovable and friendly.

Each day was a journey. Lots and lots of treats were involved. Always soothing voices. Well, that's not true. Honestly, more than once my temper broke and I yelled at her.

Nella lived with us for 14 years. She had become quite matey in her last few years. Though, with all her purring and snuggling, there was always the chance of a swipe, scratch, or bite. She never seemed to put her feral past behind her.

All the rewards and treats paid off, however, and Nella became a loving, involved member of our family.

I'd like to thank my colleague, Joan Hunter Mayer, of the Inquisitive Canine, for sharing the word on the #Train4Rewards Blog Party. Thanks!