In my travels thus far, I have had the good fortune to make
some acquaintances. We all have. And sometimes I sit back and consider
the list of names and faces and marvel. This past weekend we drove north
at the behest of one of the coolest of the cool, the owner and operator
of The Animal Behavior Center in Toledo.
Lara Joseph is
nationally recognized for her work in animal behavior, most notably
birds. She rubs elbows with the likes of animal psychologist Irene
Pepperberg, coworker of the late Alex the African Grey parrot, and Rocky
the cockatoo (www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzdIj9p59dQ).
Saturday and Sunday, she coordinated her first Animal Behavior Seminar.
Since we live with animals of different natures, we welcomed her
What we heard from Joseph and scientists and
behaviorists from around the country included behavior myths and
misconceptions in dog training, how teas can impact anxiety and other
issues in animals, hot topics in nutrition and how an animal’s diet
might have a huge impact on behavior and health issues.
retained was that just about everything that was shared could be applied
to people. For instance, do you prefer to be alone in the garage at
night during a thunderstorm? Neither does your dog.
I learned that
people in the Great Lakes region have a higher level of aluminum in
their bodies because we have clay soils. That dogs typically have higher
levels of arsenic in their systems because they are closer to the
ground (a lesson for lawn care). That teaman Jason Crean develops teas
for zoos, including a brew for Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium that will calm
fish during transport. And the teas themselves? Same ingredients that
you find on the grocery store shelf, except higher quality and much
At one point Crean noted the various kinds of tea that
he drinks. He most decidedly does not drink coffee. I cringed from my
position next to the coffee table, glad that the Starbucks latte that I
bought in Bowling Green was still in my car.
“Just where can you get the materials to make these teas?” asked an attendee.
off, this question is rude. The guy had a tableful of teas to sell that
he’d packed here from Chicago. In the end, he sold quite a bit.
I held my right hand with my left to prevent it from raising above my
head and bit my lip. What I wanted to say, was, “Um…in my back yard.”
the way home, we stopped to buy a ferret tunnel, fruit wood blocks for
animal enrichment and vowed to be more patient with the six-year-old
puppy with selective hearing, as well as each other. The next day I
gathered wild raspberry canes and peppermint, lavender and rose hips to
dry for tea and gave fresh leaves to the birds. It’s good to be at home
in the back country.