Loveable Zazoo

Zazoo standing beside his family's car during one of their early visits

Back in June of 2012 a 16 year old camel named Zazoo arrived at the Sacred Camel Gardens to receive some training and herd socialization.

We’ve taken things slowly and gently with Zazoo, partly because he’s an unusually sensitive guy, and partly because that’s just how we do things here. “Slowly and gently” doesn’t mean we aren’t also firm and direct when needed. What we do together is always based on a relationship developed in the bond of respect, trust and compassion. The camel (or horse) is never blindly forced to do anything, and is never restrained, round-penned or punished. Our approach is always an invitation to engage and participate, with politeness and respect equally expected and given by both human and camel.

It’s been wonderful helping and watching Zazoo out-grow some of his old behaviors and become increasingly sure of his new sense of self. To feel his respect for others growing is deeply rewarding and humbling. To feel him now appreciating and wanting good direction makes him much safer, and easier, to engage. It’s clear that he’s happy to be learning new things, enjoying his expanding world view in gradually measured ways, as he accepts each new invitation we offer him…

Lately we’ve been having fun developing better lead-walking manners. We take off hiking on a completely soft, loose, lead rope, walking really slowly, tortoise slow, almost not moving sometimes, imperceptibly moving… This draws him to really watch me, feel and connect with me, the two of us going along like snails, him not crowding me (not allowed). Early on he might stomp a foot because I’m going so slowly… but he soon drops down into this slowness with me – and we connect in a deep way. In his connection, in our connection, it’s almost like we’re gently hugging each other… like an old couple walking slowly along the road together, in this very still place, connected at heart, listening, feeling and resonating…

The other day we went out on a longer walk. At our furthest point out along the trail I un-clipped his lead so we could walk back together without the rope. Zazoo stayed with me the whole way, walking closely, matching speed, halting, backing-up when asked, getting ahead of me here and there then stopping to wait for me to catch up. For the last 1/4 mile he “hugged” me all the way back as I slowly made my way to the feed shed and his waiting snack reward.

The following day I un-clipped him again for the return walk. This time he just blew me off! As he tore ahead on his own I followed at my usual pace, watching him disappear off into the distance. It was funny (he’s a comical guy). Can’t help but love him. Interestingly, right near the end, about 50 yards out from the shed, he stopped and waited. When I caught him up his mouth got stuffed with treats as I praised and thanked him for waiting. Then, together, we slowly inched down the last stretch of the path to the conclusion of our walk that day…

I’m guessing that after running off he eventually realized that walking alone wasn’t as enjoyable as walking together; so he finally stopped to wait for me… maybe I’m wrong but I’ll go with this scenario for now until I learn otherwise : )

Working with a camel or horse without using force, free of the need or desire to control… to guide these animals gently while understanding that they have their own needs to be listened to, and that they want to make decisions, too, that are real, and of import to them… working in this way becomes a special form of engagement with life where wisdom, magic and mystery begin to show themselves, and the usual agendas of modern life, and mind, begin breaking down, crumbling away… to where we start noticing and feeling that it’s not at all about us – its about everyone, everything, all alive at once, living and breathing the same… and gradually we begin entrancing beyond the usual fray, breaking out into the exquisite, limitless, feeling of the “Field of Prior Unity”, where a Zazoo begins to make real sense, and now, mysteriously, begins leading the way : ) !!

Zazoo at dusk, after a long walk...





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14 Responses to Loveable Zazoo

  1. Karen says:

    I love the way you write AND train. I now wish I could have spent time with you about ten years ago so that you could have trained me to train camels.

    Thank you for your enlightening post.

    • stuart says:

      Thanks Karen, your note prompts me to mention that we’ll soon be opening up some working student / intern positions to allow for just that kind of learning and sharing of energy for mutual gain… anyone interested should feel free to write me… : )

  2. Cyril says:

    A wonderful lesson about patience and contemplation. Thanks Stuart.

  3. Dennis says:

    Wonderful story, Stu. Lucky Zazoo. Happy you.

  4. John says:

    Hehehe good on ya Zazoo, sounds like you two are having fun! Reading that brought back some pleasant memories, roll on next summer. Thanks for the update Stuart :)

  5. Jacqueline Shea Thiel says:

    Hi Stuart, loved your pose about Zazoo. I am very interested to learn this method with my dog, who is 3 and whom I have had for a little over a year. Unfortunately, I live at a distance and cannot travel right now, because of family obligations. I would be happy to pay for some written instruction. Tired of doing it the old way and I am sure Trooper is also. He is very sweet, but I know we can communicate better and be in better tune with each other, which would be good for both of us. Thanks so much.

  6. Nancy Alcorn says:

    The Shaman (camel :) ) Speaks, from the Depth.

  7. Natalie Bate says:

    When are you writing the book, Stuart? :-)

  8. Elizabeth Lowe Edgerton says:

    You and Zazoo are an inspiration and a wonderful reminder of Bhagavan’s Infinite Wisdom. Thank you both.

  9. Joanne Cyr says:

    What a wonderful lesson in feeling.
    Hopefully soon I will be able to meet these incredible camels.

  10. Alusia Iwaniak says:

    Thank you for this leela, which so beautifully reaffirms Adi Da’s word that there is ‘no separation’ between all beings here.

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