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Credit: Wolfgang Hasselmann

Karen Schoeneman

Mabel was tired, so very tired. After four decades of traveling and performing, she was ready to just retire and live in peace. But she had not been able to save, and was worried there would be no place for her as she reached her 63rd birthday. Since she spent her life on the road, she didn’t really have any good friends either. And her health was declining. Oh the pains her arthritic ankles caused, and she had some trouble with her heart too.

She worried and became quite depressed, thinking she would have no place and no companions for her remaining years. Then one day a nice lady met her after her performance and said she knew of a wonderful place where she could find all she needed and wanted – good food, good companionship, a huge backyard, medical care, and even lots of fun. Mable replied that this place must cost way more than the little she had. But the lady said this place was run by good hearted volunteers, and living there was free.

“Hot dog! This is surely the place for me,” said Mabel. So, after a long train ride, she came to her new home. Many were eager to meet her and show her around. She got a checkup and new prescriptions, even got her toenails trimmed that first day. And oh, the food was so tasty, even watermelon for dessert! After lunch she met up with Minnie, Bessie, and Lisa who took her for a walk in the countryside. They soon became friends for life.

My Pioneering cousins, are you thinking this is a great place? Yes, it is. And, you see, Mabel is an elephant! She was chained up in a circus, performing all over the US. The place is the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, a marvelous home to a set of retired circus and zoo elephants. And though Mabel’s story is a compilation, the place is real, and the lady elephants there are having a great life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our older folks who need help would be treated so great? That’s our mission, isn’t it?


If only this were true…

A wolf pack on the move: the first three are the old or sick, they give the direction and pace to the entire pack. If it was the other way around, they would be left behind, losing contact with the pack. In case of an ambush they would be sacrificed; then come five strong ones, the front line;

  • In the center are the rest of the pack members;
  • then the five strongest following.
  • Last is alone, the Alpha.

He controls everything from the rear. In that position he can see everything, decide the direction. He sees all of the pack.

The pack moves according to the elders’ pace and help each other, watch each other.

Again, I am left speechless by nature … I knew that wolves are different, but didn’t realize how much we could learn from them…

I didn’t know wolves put the elders of the pack FIRST … a lot of people on this planet should take note… they are to be seen up front, setting the pace and direction while enjoying the protection of the rest… and not invisible at the back of the line.

Research has confirmed that this story is not true, however, as visionaries in the world of Person-Centered Care, it is a story that strikes a note in our hearts, and true or not, holds lessons we can learn.