In times past, I've taken my 9-year-old iguana rescue for walks around the property. Fafnir is not a fan of the cat harness, and when she's not frantically climbing trees trying to get out of it, she's performing alligator death rolls. I've really wanted to make exercising pleasurable for her, but using the cat leash didn't seem to be the way.
So this year I did what every mother reluctantly has to. I decided I loved Fafnir enough to set her free.
I found her in the sunroom near her roomy, 6-foot-high cage. I smiled, imagining how she must have been trundling around the backyard and accidentally hit the flap of the doggie door and found her way inside.
The next day I put her outside again. She played, slept, swam, had a picnic lunch, then came back inside through the doggie door when she was done.
In her cage, from her basking shelf, she had watched the dogs and cats come and go through that door every day for six years. I didn't have to teach her how to use the door or what it was for (heck, I never even thought to try to teach her). She had learned on her own.
For nearly two months now, Fafnir has been coming and going, spending time out with the ducks then coming in and hanging out in the sunroom. All on her own terms. I set her free; she returned because she wanted to.
I regret now that I didn't give Fafnir enough credit long ago. I regret that I didn't recognize that lizard brain of hers is a pretty miraculous tool. Most of all, I regret that I assumed trust was something reserved only for those animals in whom the blood runs warm.
Who knew a wise old lizard could have so much to teach?