By Stuart Camps
When I finished raking up a large expanse of the camels' outer environment, a few days ago, I looked over at Google Mama who was sitting contentedly beside her handsome, still quite bird-like, 10 day old calf. I lent the rake up on a tree and went over and sat down with them in a little huddle of three. A circle of four humps and three heads. For a long time the three of us just sat quietly together. Not doing anything, just sitting with each other. A few times Google Mama brushed her face against mine in acknowledgment and acceptance of my being there. I reciprocated. Little else was said between us. We just sat, and relaxed, and contemplated... for a good, long, while.
Then the little guy got up and placed his little gray face into the crook of my neck. He's a large calf for his age and I think he'll be a big camel when fully grown. After resting with me for a moment he stepped up to his mother, who remained seated, and started clambering and flopping about over her long, powerful, neck and over her broad back and humps. Every so often Google Mama reached back to gently mouth and nuzzle him. At one point I put my hand on one of the calf's rear feet. He whacked me. I lightly whacked him back. He kicked me again with his soft, new, feet. I flicked him back. He puffed his cheeks, gave a little spit, and kicked me once more.
Since the day the calf was born, Google Mama has been teaching him how to listen and respond to her. She goes through a graduated set of communications... to stay close, or follow, or come back and so forth. And if the calf is just goofing off and not listening to her and responding to instructions, she gradually becomes more demonstrative, more deliberate in her body language and guttural purrs, and if he still doesn't respond as she wants then she will end up "whacking" him with a front foot, pushing him to the ground or flipping him off his feet. This always brings his attention back to her. When there are new people around the baby gets more distracted, and listens less to his mother, so it's more often at those times that she ends up giving the stronger discipline. Yet, always, soon after her occasional and very deliberate and well measured guidance has been delivered, Google Mama is right there with soft touches and gurgles to reaffirm her love for him. She's teaching him right behavior in camel society and culture. He feels utterly safe in the shadow of her huge form and presence.
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