Jamie received a new pair of boots from our wish list this afternoon. She has a specific series of rituals that must be followed when she receives a new pair of boots. First, one of the staff or volunteers must wear the boot and join Jamie on a walk around the hill. After returning, Jamie expects the boot wearer to meet her in the greenhouse for a grooming session.
Jamie begins by inspecting the boots carefully.
She encourages the caregivers to show her all of the features of the new boot, such as Velcro or zippers.
Then she begins to groom the boot with a tool – in this case, a wooden chopstick given out earlier as part of a food puzzle.
Eventually Jamie will ask to groom the caregiver herself, pointing and gesturing toward specific areas she wants to groom. Sometimes it’s a freckle, other times it’s a scab or hangnail. She also likes to untie our shoelaces with her grooming tool. Her dexterity is incredible, even when she’s holding the tool with the very tips of her fingers.
With a brand new pair of boots, Jamie will often insist on being given them immediately after the grooming session is finished. With boots that she’s had for a while, she will typically ask for them back when the staff are doing their closing rounds. But you can only give them back to her when she’s ready. If you drop them in the chute too early, she will take them out and throw them back to you (or rather, at you) from an opening high up on the playroom caging. When she is truly ready to receive them, she will wait by the chute and issue a low moan of contentment as they are dropped in. Eventually she will make her nest for the night include them or even use them as a pillow. Only then can you close up for the night, knowing that Jamie is satisfied.