Today was another big milestone for our guy, Willy B! And it took so much courage! If you’ve been following along with Willy B’s amazingly brave progress in venturing outdoors for the first time (there are several posts in the past days and weeks), you’ll know we’ve been using food as a motivator to help him feel more comfortable outside and to challenge him to go just that little bit further each day. One of Willy B’s favorite things, a whole apple, was placed in the grass of the courtyard and while this wasn’t entirely new, it was placed quite a bit outside his comfort zone requiring him to not only let go of the safety of the boardwalk and climbing structure, not only to place both feet and both hands on the ground, but also to take many steps away from the comfort and safety the structure provides.
After foraging for a few veggies here and there, it didn’t take Willy B long to spot the apple:
He was beside himself wanting that apple, but just wasn’t ready to venture that far. It was asking a lot. A little more than we intended. He was so vexed he worked himself up into a small display about it. Then he proceeded to blow raspberries and clap his hands at me which was Willy B speak for, “Get me that apple!!” I sat out there with him for well over an hour watching his wheels turn, his heart grow braver, trying to balance remaining nonchalant with him, but throwing in the occasional pep talk. He’d place one foot on the grass, consider the distance, then return to the safety of the boardwalk. He went back and forth and back and forth, all the while looking at the apple, then to the firehose, the structure, and all the enrichment trying to figure out a way to get that apple and still feel safe. Knowing everything it’s taking for him to overcome his very understandable fears, it was equally exciting and heart-wrenching to watch his every amazingly courageous step.
And then…after numerous attempts, he did it. He DID IT!! I wanted to squeal out loud and cry at the same time
After enjoying his well-deserved reward, Willy B surprised me by not heading back indoors, but climbing to the top of the structure where he proceeded to LIE DOWN! Considering that a low-flying plane had gone over earlier prompting him to climb down, it was incredible to watch up go back up and have a relaxing moment. Who is this guy?! King of the Courtyard, that’s who.
And here’s a very blurry bonus photo of Mave popping her head out of the chute! She continues to touch the boardwalk and spent more time reaching out of the chute than we’ve yet seen, even picking some grass to snack on. But she continues to wait for the right time for herself. And that’s what sanctuary is all about, after all.