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Published: October 19th 2017
Partners in Crime
Photo credit: Tara Lea
I have always believed one of the greatest honors is to share your life with an animal. There are few relationships that afford such vulnerability, love and satisfaction as those relationships between a human and their animal companion. Animals teach us patience, trust, responsibility, grace and confirmation that we are not the most important being in our life.
A part of this coexistence, one that I take very seriously, is giving animal friends a solid, respectable name. I know there is a joke among our family that I name anything that moves, and frankly, I can't deny it. But I strongly believe the only thing worse than an animal without a name, is an animal with a lousy name.
You can imagine my dismay when I came face-to-face with my camel partner in Mongolia and he was introduced as "Black." I think the only way he could have had a more random, non-descript name is if he were named "Camel #3."
I had no idea how I was going to be able to tolerate this mediocre name, but for his sake I gave it the old school try.
Within an hour of us arriving at Camel Camp,
Love at First Sight
Photo credit: Gillian Barber
"Black" became "Blackie" because our instructors and a majority of the trainers were Aussies and apparently not adding a "y" sound to everyone's name gets your Australian passport revoked.
Blackie was better than Black, but it took all my composure not to come unhinged on this name situation.
I will give the Steppes to the West expedition team some credit. When the 10 camels arrived at Camel Camp, they quickly and randomly identified these camels by naming them each a different color until their personalities could surface. That is how we ended up with the likes of White (then Whitey), Orange, Brown (yes, he became Brownie), Yellow and so forth.
Then the team did something really clever. In an effort to continue to raise funding for this expedition and specifically the camels, the team essentially put the naming rights to these camels on the auction block. Anyone around the world could "sponsor" a camel, which meant pay for camel food and supplies, and then wield the power to give these gentlemen proper names.
But here is where the team looks exceptionally clever. They set up this sponsorship program right as a bunch of camel-loving,
Me & the Original Shamrock
I know only his back is showing, but it's evident he was also a gentle giant.
animal cherishing trainers landed in Mongolia. In other words, they waited until us suckers arrived and got attached to our camel partners. The expedition team had to feel like they were shooting fish in a barrel.
We hadn't even completed the first day of training before "Red" became "Dragon" and within 24 hours "Blue" became "Atlas."
I'm sure you can see where this is going. I dug into my pocket and quickly replaced that unacceptable name of Black.
Before I finalized the deal, I sent home a quick marriage-preserving message.
Me: So, I'm thinking of sponsoring this camel so I can rename him... (Waiting for the "how much?" response that never came).
Husband (sounding like his indignant self): Good! That is a terrible name!
Greenbacks were exchanged and a new camel joined the expedition.
Black/Blackie became Shamrock
in honor of the Crenshaw ranch back in the Flint Hills of Kansas and our family's long history of caring for, cohabiting with and considering animals part of the fabric of a full life.
I was a child when we had a top quality black Angus bull who represented Shamrock Farms
like a proud mascot. His name, as you've already assumed, was Shamrock and he was gentle, sensitive, hard-working and simply part of the family.
So with a new reputation, new skills and a new name, I am pleased to introduce Shamrock
who currently strides in slot number 7 in the Steppes to the West string of 10 camels walking from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to London, England.
He is sure to be a solid worker, a gentle companion and an attention magnet during this 3 year journey along the Silk Road. Don't be shocked to see him gracing magazine covers, strutting for the camera or overshadowing the accomplishments of the expedition team. You read it hear first. A side note:
For all the competitive, award-seeking Yanks out there, being in slot number 7 does not mean Shamrock ranks 7th out of 10 camels. Putting together a string of camels is a process that requires strategy, psychology and practice.
The first one to two camels are your reliable, easy-to-engage with camels who don't need or want to follow other camels.
Your last four camels are your calm, obedient, not easily startled camels who
know they have a job and take it very seriously. These camels are focused and obedient.
The camels at the end of the string are furthest from the lead cameleer, so they mustn't need a great deal of supervision or guidance.
I'm not going to say this means that Shamrock is one of the best camels in the string, but you can read between the lines.
(To learn how the camels of Shamrock Farms
earned their deeply considered and highly meaningful names, check out: www.cameltalesandshamrocks.com)
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