Funny tricks

I was looking forward to visiting Malta again. I had visited the island twice but that was more years ago than I care to count. The cruise ship's excursion list included a trip to the marine park with a demonstration which was new to me and I thought Erny and I would enjoy that. What a disappointment! Humans swimming in a pool with seals, two sea lions being obliged to wave flippers at the audience, a parrot pushing a ball along a plank and into a net... what has that got to do with marine life?

On another occasion a business trip took me to Vienna and I decided to tack on a weekend and fulfil a lifetime ambition: to visit the Spanish riding display of Lipizzaner horses - as most equine lovers would. Clever it certainly was, a brilliant display of coordination between horses and skilled riders, but it had a circus-like quality that I did not appreciate.

After years of horse riding and teaching I can tell if the horses are enjoying themselves and these horses were not.

When teaching a class of children to ride in Poccono in America, I made it clear to the children that they should enjoy the riding but to remember the horses should enjoy being riden. This does not mean a lack of firmness: be firm, be fair, be friendly.

Many animals are natural entertainers but in their own natural way. Not as humans would have them behave in a circus style which usually means a degree of coercion which to me often borders on cruelty.

Television commercials often feature animals. I witnessed the shooting of the commercial with an Old English Sheepdog (actually there were a few) for a paint. I also watched the filming of the chimps for a tea. All these animals loved to entertain but the filming was done with a camera running continiously and suitable cuts selected out for use. Time consuming but caring.

A Boxer currently seems to be appearing regularly for several products and also a white poodle with a human voice. All carefully done.