By Joanna Lucas,
Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary
This is Sven in his chosen "fortress", a small, arid area between the car and the kiddie pool, where he secluded himself shortly after arriving at the sanctuary, and where he spends his days in self imposed exile, patrolling the imaginary borders of his cloistered world and preemptively honking and hissing at everyone who walks by. He is a recluse, a hermit, a loner but, if he avoids all social contact, it may not be because he is emotionally absent or detached. It may very well be because he is too present and too open to the woes and fears and tears of others. Whatever the reason for his solitude, Sven feels compelled to nurture those he perceives as lost, afraid, or vulnerable, even if the cost is his personal comfort.
Once, he left the safety of his fiercely cloistered world and walked all the way into the middle of an open field that terrified him, only to escort Bluto to his favorite spot in the sun, and to watch over the old, frail, terminally ill dog in his final days. He did this every day until the end.
And when Louise ewe, who is crippled and enfeebled by old age and severe arthritis, hobbles by his "fort" on her painful joints, Sven not only refrains from shooing her away, he offers her the balm of long, gentle preening sessions that comfort and soothe her more than any medicine. And she stands there in a blissful trance as he gently picks tiny bits of alfalfa leaves off her face, carefully pecks at stray specks of straw around her eyes, and softly nibbles at her temples as he chatters up a storm of sweet, guttural reassurances straight into her ears.
Watching over an old, frail, terminally ill friend...
And, if an intruder (like, say, the photographer) should startle Louise and disrupt their healing communion, Sven will shield his friend with his own body, putting himself between her and danger. Not because *he* might perceive the intruder as dangerous, but because he understands that Louise does. This is Sven. Uncertain of everything in his life except, perhaps, the simple fact that others are as full of mind and feeling as he is.