Brioni has a special bond with animals. She attracts insects to her fingers so she can properly admire them and carefully re-homes creepy-crawlies that are in danger of getting squashed. So when I saw an animal communication workshop advertised at FERN, I was excited on Brioni’s behalf.

We had previously met the workshop convenor Jodi Ruckley at a friend’s house. I called Jodi up and asked if she’d be willing to let an almost-seven-year-old sit in on the class with the other adults. Jodi graciously agreed, and today I parked our bus outside the beautiful rural home where the workshop was being offered.

Jodi Ruckley and Brioni at the animal communication workshop, July 2013
Brioni sits alongside Jodi for most of the class.

Jodi was marvelous at making Brioni feel comfortable, and Brioni was free to come out to the bus when she felt like it — which usually entailed either collecting or returning her pet rat Shadow to its cage. On each visit, she also gave me a short summary of what was going on inside.

Brioni with her pet rat Shadow, July 2013
Brioni's rat Shadow is often on Brioni's shoulder or hidden in her hood.

The workshop lasted all day, so I spent a bit of time with the other girls exploring the farm and greeting the animals. Rainy periods drove us back into the bus, but when the sun came out, we did too!

Jodi Ruckley and Brioni at the animal communication workshop, July 2013
Part of the workshop involved interacting with the animals that live on the farm, including Jodi's beautiful big pig Lily.

Close to the end of the workshop, Brioni fell asleep on the floor while the conversation swirled around her. It was a long day — particularly for someone who is unused to classroom hours — but I think she did a fantastic job at participating in something that she’s passionate about.

I’m so grateful to Jodi for allowing Brioni to attend. I’m not yet sure where Brioni’s passion for animals will lead her, but I’m intent on giving her every opportunity to grow in knowledge and wisdom, and Jodi’s workshop was just one step in that process.