I just gave Cabal and Jude each a front leg from the giant alpaca I’ve been processing all afternoon. Jude didn’t seem too interested in his and wanted only to have me stand and pet him instead. Strange as this was, I decided to stay for a while, sitting on a tire, covered in alpaca blood, feet bare in the summer dust, while Jude lay under my legs and started gnawing on the meat I’d given him.
I thought this was all very strange. Normally, he’s super exuberant about eating raw, and during the first weeks into his transition, I couldn’t even be near him while he ate. In more recent months, we’ve gotten to the point where I can stand beside right him, but as soon as I get down on his level at a close proximity, he starts giving me warnings to back the fuck up.
So today, when he very gently took my hand in his mouth and invited me pet him as he lay beside his food, I was a little surprised, and, admittedly, somewhat wary. Jude was encouraging me to give him pettings, even as he continued to growl and snap at Cabal over his meal. He seemed to be saying, “it’s okay for Sarah to be here, but little brother better stick to his own food!"
We sat there for some time as Jude tentatively set to work on eating his alpaca leg. He’s still getting the hang of how to tear into bigger cuts of meat, so I thought that maybe he’d growl at me once he had opened it up and started gorging, but as I stood slowly to leave him, he whined and turned away from his food to rub against me, coaxing me to sit beside him again while he ate. This behavior is a complete 180 from the way he used to act when we first got him.
Over the weekend, we had a lot of time together, just the two of us, to sit and bond while I sipped a latte in Pioneer Square downtown. Jude had crawled up onto my lap and lay there for about an hour while strangers passed and gawked at us. Jude ignored them all and nuzzled his cheek against my belly. He radiated happiness.
I’m wondering if he just wasn’t that hungry (I had fed him a fresh cut of alpaca meat about 2 hours earlier, small though it was), or if he now actually trusts that I’m not going to steal his food from him. Maybe he thought that if he got me to stay, I’d do the job of cutting the meat into smaller pieces for him.
In any event, I don’t expect that this is going to become a regular thing. Jude does fall back onto very primitive behaviors when food is involved, and I know from unfortunate experience that one wrong move in is presence as he’s eating can prove very painful.
I’m pleased that he evidently didn’t see me as a threat to his resources this one time, but I wouldn’t want to push my luck. It’s just interesting to note this drastic difference in his behavior from when we first got him in December, and I take it as a very good sign.