I have a lot of animals in my life.

Stack, Black Jack and Belle are American quarter horses I have the luxury of learning to ride. Seth is an old soul in a young body...a cowboy displaced to 2003 who hopes to be a Veterinarian someday. Meanwhile he home schools and trains his horses (and a few lucky people) in intra-species relations. Today I learned to shampoo a horse! Seth correctly assumes I will not learn comfort in the saddle until I learn comfort in caring for the animals and how to read their body language. So I know that Belle will pin her ears when played with but won't really bite me while I can lean on Black Jack all day and we will both enjoy it. I'm finally getting over the fear instilled at an early age of being anywhere behind a horse by learning how to let the horse know where I am and what I'm doing. I understand Black Jack is the natural leader of this group and I'm asking for trouble if I let Stack in the barn first. In other words I've learned they are individuals with and without a saddle. Plus, I can lift a horsey leg and hold it while picking a hoof for pebbles. This is good to know. I can only hope that over time I will also become sensitive enough to know while still in the saddle if the horse is favoring one leg.

Wax and Sam are ferrets who rule the roost at another friend's house. They also have individual personalities that are obvious. Wax is skittery and shy but will relax into a puddle of joy with a back rub. Sam is always underfoot looking for some action. They were purchased by their young owners as babies and left with mom and dad while the young owners went to Europe. Said young owners are no longer boyfriend/girlfriend and Wax and Sam are now owned by mom and dad. They have been trained, loved and cared for and are the model of fun ferrets. I'm pet sitting them this weekend.

Bitsy is an old, old lady dog with cancer, arthritis, blindness and deafness. She lives in the same house as Wax and Sam. She does not however reside in the same room as them. They pick on her too much. She still loves her treats and comes when one claps loud enough. Sometimes she needs to be carried down the stairs but her daily pain medicine usually makes her comfortable. I remember when she was a puppy mutt peeking out of Jackie's coat while our now college aged students waited for the elementary school bus and reveled in Roald Dahl, Anamorphs and Choose Your Own Adventure books. Life is a day by day proposition for Bitsy. Part of my pet sitting instructions include what to do if she goes "bad" while her owners are out of town.

Panther is a middle aged cat, approaching early old age. He came to our house when my charming and then 7 year old daughter twisted her daddy around her little finger. Xie is now 16 and Panther is my cat. He sits on my feet and bites my ankles for random reasons. He tolerates sugar gliders on his back and eats moths. He killed a mouse once and became a ferocious growling beast briefly when said mouse was removed from his mouth. But mostly he is a lap cat who comes when called and purrs and kneads and bumps me with his head so hard that it hurts just to show me who owns whom.

I won't bore you with the SIX sugar gliders' names...suffice it to say I can no longer tell the mom from the 4 daughters. They do not have a lot of individuality, just a mass cuteness factor.

8 little Kribinsis are growing in a small tank. Suicidal pond snails exit daily.

Rosy and Bo live next door and go with me on long walks in the woods. They are brother and sister golden retrievers just recently full grown but still in puppy behavior mode. The invisible fence has been a failure so they try to keep me company in the garden but I'm forced by concern about car accidents to contribute to their training and send them rudely home.

Then there are the wild ones.