Thursday, February 25, 2010

Don't Stop Believing

I know most of you are like me, and love your dogs, and cats unconditionally.
However, readers they're people in this world who simply have an extra special bond with animals. When I say animal person, these are the people I speak of, not the folks on the corner with signs begging you not to eat meat, wear fur, or go to the circus. If you have been on the swing for awhile, you probably knew this post was coming today. I hope you expected this from me. If you're new, I hope this post teaches you about the real me, Lisa, not The Bumpkin.
My John has this bond with animals, especially dogs, but all animals really.
We will have to get a picture of his pelican buddy who meets him at his fishing spot to grab a shrimp from the bait bucket more often than not. That bird loves John, and his excitement is visible when he sees him.
Dawn Brancheau lost her life yesterday doing what she loved.
She was to Orcas, what Steve Irwin was to Crocodiles, what Dian Fossey was to Gorillas.

Now I am not a mother, of any two-legged creatures at least, but I do know that children lead by example. Believe what they see, if you may. Please let's not even debate taking Orca whales from their life experience options. Please let Dawn's team carry on, with every ounce of our support. Promise me you won't talk the ugly talk. Promise me my friends.

I am disappointed with the whole slip and fall scenario. It makes it appear as if there is something to hide. Nothing to hide, it's a killer whale, no one was shocked in our animal people world.
She did not slip and fall. Watch Whale week? A killer whale grabs it prey, shakes it till it's stunned, and then drowns it. Everyone has a video camera, especially everyone at Sea World. Just stop, she wouldn't want it this way. Just stop. Dawn would want this to be her ultimate contribution to Orca research. Her final contribution.

Here's a quick side story to help you relate. I will tell you the Katrina story in full, one day, when I'm at peace with it all, but for now let me tell you this brief triumph. Day 9, the water in New Orleans has receded. We head for those dogs you saw on the TV stuck on the balconies, no food or clean water for 9 days now, somebody has to do something. My John, and the 19 vet techs who came from
Chicago Animal Welfare League to help him, start out after them. We have to trick the police to let us in, John handled that so well, that they gave us a police escort into the neighborhood where they had seen the most needy dogs in one concentrated place. After an hour or two of searching and trapping, we hear a wimper. These dog heroes rush toward it, to find a tan pit bull under 5-6 layers of chain link fence, trapped and still alive 9 days later. Some piece of crap left him in a metal pen in the backyard during the hurricane. When the levees broke, and the floods washed in, his pen, and all the neighbors chain link fences buried him. They determined he wasn't fatally wounded or injured the best they could, then My John, started cutting away with only a pair of bolt cutters. We were prepared for everything, thanks to the US Marine Corps training, there was a glimmer of hope. After an hour the leaders of the rescue group tried to talk John into giving up. We could be saving 10 in the time it takes you to save this one. They had only known My John for a day. Give up? You must be kidding, on a dog. Sure right, I myself starting looking for a place to rest, as I knew we were in for the long haul. One other man stayed for the fight. I love you Mark for staying by his side. How many times did it cross our minds, that this animal could attack John, it was in it's worse case scenario. Attacking was it's coping mechanism. He didn't care ya'll. If I said a word, he replied, "I'm not leaving this dog, Lisa." "You can leave if you want, but I'm not leaving him."
He endured till he was able to slip a muzzle on him and pull him out. That pit bull lives in a fancy high rise in Chicago today, because My John was willing to take the risk. Able, ready, and most importantly willing.

As I came to work this morning I thought of Dawn. Sure I was going to a good job, with decent pay, and a wonderful group of people. But today, my friends, I'm not making a difference in the world, no not really. Dawn's life and her death make me feel cheated.

Look at this picture. This is what she dreamed her whole life of doing. Her purpose in life was to bend the barrier line between animal and human, with Orca whales. Killer Whales Ya'll! She knew, and she reveled in making that connection, a connection that you and I will never know the glory of. Except maybe if you've ever been to Sea World, I remember at 18 how childlike I felt, and that I wrote in my journal, today I fed a killer whale. The magnitude still remains in the deepest part of my soul. Thank You Dawn. At this minute I still envy her. She died amazingly accomplished, while we are here still struggling with the simple things. Not a bad life.

Have you ever heard the story from a child who has visited Sea World and seen Shamu smile? Remember Dawn for those sweet words, her dedication made it possible.

From a 2005 article in the Orlando Sentinel

Dawn Brancheau steps to the edge of the pool, reaches in and splashes the surface of the 54-degree water.

A moment later a 5,000-pound killer whale swims to the surface and opens its gigantic mouth in wait of a salmon snack.

Brancheau, 36, promptly places a whole fish on the whale's tongue and rubs down her slick head.

As one of SeaWorld Orlando's leading trainers of its main attraction -- the killer whales tourists know as Shamu -- Brancheau knows her relationship with the giant mammals is vital to the job.

And it has been key in SeaWorld's effort to launch the first major update of its signature Shamu show in nearly a decade.

The remake of the show, coming this year, is SeaWorld's latest effort to step up its offerings in increasingly competitive leisure markets in Orlando and at its locations in San Antonio, Texas, and San Diego.

More than ever, theme park-goers today expect technologically advanced and fresh attractions that have never been seen before.

The big Orlando parks -- Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld -- have recently boosted the thrill factor on rides and the wow factor on shows, a trend expected to continue in 2006.

"This is at a time when people's sense of entertainment is at a high level," Brancheau said. "We're making the biggest change we've ever made."

The new Shamu show, which will feature new interactions between the whales and their trainers, is scheduled to debut in May.

Brancheau worked her way into a leadership role at Shamu Stadium during her 12-year career with SeaWorld, starting at the Sea Lion & Otter Stadium before spending the past 10 years working with killer whales.

It was a trip to SeaWorld at age 9 that set her on that career goal.

"I remember walking down the aisle [of Shamu Stadium] and telling my mom, `This is what I want to do,' " she recalled recently.

The new show is the product of three years of work now in the final editing stage and will feature music written specifically for the whales and their movements as well as new underwater shots and monitors.

The show is designed to be inspirational, leaving the audience with the notion that if people can swim with killer whales they can achieve anything.

The dangers of the job don't go unacknowledged.
"You can't put yourself in the water unless you trust them and they trust you," Brancheau said.

If you have the time, watch Animal man Jack Hanna, talk of the fight his friend Dawn fought. It's about the animals, that's it, crossing and bending that barrier line.

Now, let's simply do what she asked of us, let's believe readers, let's just BELIEVE!

The Bumpkin


MCW said...

Love the story of your John.
And I am right there with you...there are risks working with large, wild animals...but, that is what she wanted and what she loved doing.

Bumpkin on a Swing said...

Thank you MCW, that incident was one of My John incidents that I just knew. I knew he was the one. :)

Bethany said...

What a sad, yet inspirational post. My dad's best friend was an airshow pilot. He did aerobatics so fearlessly that we all thought he was crazy (and extremely talented) and one day a few summers ago he was killed in a mid-air collision during one of his routines. It was tragic, yes. But, like Dawn, at least he died doing what he loved. And there's a lot to be said for that...knowing what you do is dangerous and loving it enough to do it anyway. Bless their hearts.

By the way, your John sounds like a truly good man. :)

Lisa said...

Wow - what an amazing Lisa & John story. Wish there were more good souls like y'all in this world who helped animals so tirelessly!

Jennifer T said...

i agree with everything you said in this post! what an amazing story of you and your honey rescueing those dogs...if i had been there i wouldve been right there with you, i promise! you know i have a big spot in my heart for dogs and animals as well! it is amazing to me that someone can just leave their animal to fend for themselves like that...pisses me off actually! i think it is a wonderful thing for people to be able to do what they love for a living. while it is very sad to lose someone so tragically, at least in dawn and steve irwin (etc) case they all died doing what they love. what better way to go out than that right?! one other thing and then ill hush it...i have been discusted (spelling?! ha) with some of the things i have heard lately about the KILLER whale KILLING the trainer...the thought of killing this animal is just appauling to me...this is something that us human beings have created, NOT the animal! and like we've said, its something that dawn and many others LOVE is what they choose to do knowing the risks and even think that killing this animal or any other animal to which we put ourselves in the situation that kills a person is stupid...sorry, i had to put my two cents in too! glad we're on the same page here bumpkin! great post!

Keri said...

Wow. That as a very inspirational post! Thank you for that. And I love the story about John.