When 10 years has passed and you see with your own eyes, the proof of a unique bond between an animal and a human.
I was so flabbergasted it took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes.
Misty… the closest animal to me and the smarted dolphin I have ever trained, proved to me once again, what a special bond we had after 10 years without interacting with each other.
When I remember how we found her its breaks my heart!
She was just a baby, floating lifeless, like a piece of drift-wood in the open ocean, alone and close to dying, when we came to her rescue.
It was April the 4th 2005, she was a very sick, cast away from her family, very dehydrated body, with severe infections plus around six ulcers in her stomach, which I later observed through our endoscope camera.
After nursing her back to health, she soon became the most intelligent and responsive animal and after sleeping many nights by her side on the trainer’s platform, we developed a bond that was evident in her reaction to me, whenever we were together.
Fast forward now to two weeks ago, on a visit to see all my friends at Dolphin Cove Jamaica Ocho Rios, my one thought was how was Misty. She was 16 years old whilst I was there, so I wanted to see my young friend! I was asked if I wanted to help feed her and naturally, with such a kind offer from the trainers who by now had heard of our history, I could not miss the chance to see Misty.
I gave her a tactile signal, which I used to give her always when we used to play, only she and I knew about it, it was our little secret… I was speechless when she responded positive and with fluency to my signal after 10 years…my heart was bursting with happiness, after she showed me that she remembered my unique signal and touch. I spent a short while with her and could tell by other unique signals and touches that she remembered each one perfectly.
It was an amazing experience and confirms my belief that not only are these beautiful animals so intelligent, but that a special bond can exist between a trainer with an honest kind heart, putting their love into how they treat their animal and an animal respecting that treatment. Often, Misty offered to perform without constant positive reinforcement, because she trusted me to reward fully at the end of the program, this was also somewhat unique to Misty and I, but it also demonstrates what can happen, if you treat the animals with love and respect.
In my experience, having a particular tactile signal (SD) for a very simple behaviour, one that only you and your dolphin knows, proves an animal can remember specific signals for many years, years that they have not been in contact with that trainer or signal. The story about my recent encounter with Misty demonstrated this perfectly to me.
A big thank you to you guys at Ocho Rios for making this experience possible, it will remain in my heart, as will Misty, forever.