Once we had a very shy, loner wether named Tatanka (formerly Tandori). We joked that he needed to “get the memo” quickly if he wasn’t going to become his (former) name.
Apparently Tatanka got the message.
He had started getting it before I left for Europe. He was not as shy, he started walking up to us more, and he generally liked a gentle pat or two on the nose. But he was still pretty shy and quick to startle.
Say hello to Tatanka 2.0.
I don’t know what happened, but Shy Tatanka got replaced by Chummy Tatanka while I was in Europe. As soon as I came back, he was much more friendly–more pets, more hanging around, still more pets please. And the more he hung out with me over the past two weeks, the chummier he got.
Yesterday being a case in point. I went down to the sheepie tipi (say that three times fast) yesterday afternoon. Finally the sheep are calm enough that they don’t generally startle when we walk up, as long as we talk to them a bit before they can see us. Tagine and Half Moon were friendly, but so was Tatanka. He even shoved himself between a tree and Tagine to get more pets.
As you’ll undoubtedly note, I have two hands. They were three sheep. I ended up patting and petting them all, two at a time, rotating among the sheep. But as soon as one of them got a little annoyed because he wasn’t getting enough attention, I knew it (see: gentle head butting, paw scratching, approaching closer). Meanwhile, Cinnamon and Spot also came up to say hello. Petting five sheep is even more complicated than three sheep. And Tatanka was as insistent as the rest.
So, eleven months after he joined the farm and nearing full-grown adulthood, Tatanka has become another sweet, friendly sheep. It suggests that sheep personalities are not entirely nature determined. They can–and do–learn. They learn, for instance, that the blonde “sheep” is nice and pets are nice.
Time to write our neighbors a check since he’s supposed to be “theirs.”
Not any more. Tatanka got the memo.