Our Little Spitfire. How Far She Has Come.


Lady shares space with Rana and Mara at times, and sometimes, after being around them, she will show up at the barn looking exhausted and like she needs some time to herself. When that happens, we usually close her in the smaller yards (around six acres/2.5 hectares) near the barn for the night. The following morning, she is generally bright-eyed with a fresh look about her.

When this recently happened, Lady stayed near the barn for much of the following day. In the afternoon, we showed up around treatment time and started getting everything together as she continued grazing. Usually, she starts heading closer as we start gathering the supplies – particularly her buckets of fruit. Once everything was ready, she was still out there grazing, so we called to her, asking, “Are you ready??” In response, Lady continued grazing for a while.

Thankfully, there’s always something to do, so we kept ourselves busy and kept an eye on Lady at the same time. Eventually, she came over and was very mellow and relaxed.

We did some footwork on her front feet. In general, her feet are continuing to improve. Her foot disease is a life-long condition, and it’s somewhat cyclical. Even with the overall improvement, she still has her good days and bad days, and likely always will. Right now the good days significantly win out over the bad. The visible improvements still give us hope, but we try to walk the fine line between being realistic and enjoying her “wins.”

Her cuticles are showing drastic positive changes. When cuticles overgrow on elephants, they grow into the nail, trapping bacteria underneath. As part of this, the cuticle becomes hardened, which makes it more difficult to trim or improve. Her cuticles are softening and beginning to look healthier. Their softening makes it easier on all of us to redefine the line between her cuticles and nails.

Most elephants don’t enjoy cuticle work, it’s much more sensitive than filing nails or timing pads. In the past, when we file or work on her cuticles, it’s when she’s been the quickest to step back. This day, as we were noticing how far along they’ve progressed, she was stellar about it. She went to slowly pull her trunk back a few times, but she’d come right back on her own.

To us, it’s a testament to her ever-growing confidence, comfort, and trust. For years, she would simply lash out, but now she is pondering a little bit more. She seems to be thinking about the “right” response, rather than responding first and thinking later. She’s learning how to process the emotions and frustrations she feels in a healthier manner. This change is part of the growth for elephants while at Sanctuary. With Lady, because of her behavior when she first arrived, it’s more apparent than many. Her recovery is equally evident and astounding. Scott was talking about Lady recently and referred to how, when she arrived, she was like a little ball of fear, anxiety, and spitfire. It’s incredible to see her doing exceptionally well and allowing us to do more in regards to treating her health conditions. She’s now a more cerebral and content little spitfire.

August 7, 2020


  1. REPLY
    Sandra says

    Hi Scott, any chance you could post a video of you doing Lady’s cuticle work? I would be very interested in seeing how you are able to do it! Thank you!

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      We generally don’t record sessions with Lady because she doesn’t seem fond of cameras. At this point, we’re done with cuticles for now and back to nails and pads. We use a square routing blade, like is used for woodwork, and gently trim them. Sometimes we also use the rasp to file them a bit. It depends on how healthy and overgrown they are. Hers were atrocious. We’ll need to do more on her cuticles at some point, but for now, they are trimmed as much as we are planning on doing for a bit.

  2. REPLY
    Wim says

    Lady is a classy Elephant with high brow finesse. She can make small and big steps all in her own speed. Hopefully all the good vibes in the sanctuary Elephant orientated or not will be a huge support for further health achievements. Hooray to LADY.
    P.S. After watching amazing Elephants during a very long period Lady was the first one to reach and touch my heart and soul completely.
    We’re all connected. ???

  3. REPLY
    Patricia says

    Love her. Love her with all my heart. She is an amazing wonder.

  4. REPLY
    Susan says

    I admire Lady so much. I am pretty sure that if I had to suffer just a tiny bit of what she has had to go through in her life, trust would be far off my radar. That these beautiful soulful beings have such a deep inner strength, can suffer incredibly, and can still manage to trust, how could I not be in awe of them? Love and hugs to everyone at Sanctuary!! ❤️❤️❤️?❤️

  5. REPLY
    Paula says

    Y esto sucede gracias a sus amorosos cuidados hacia ella ❤
    Lady los ama a ustedes profundamente y ella está muy agradecida también!
    Seguro que Lady entiende que ustedes la quieren curar, por eso accede a sus pedidos a pesar del dolor que ella puede sentir!
    Chica admirable y valiente…?

  6. REPLY
    Tammy Nelson says

    You Go Girl we’re all so very proud of Lady and the others too! They amaze us all each and every day we never know which one will do what next it’s really fun to read the daily updates and hear the great news so thank you again for all you do! ?????

  7. REPLY
    Sheila says

    Oh sweetlil spirtfire ?lady‼️ so happy to hear lady u r quite endearing in ur foot treatments and ur feet are doing far greater than expected! Mz sweet lady it has been up to u to participate in the treatments and u seem to have learned how to process how scott and kat can help ur feet my dear lady❤️ overall you are calming down and being more understanding of ur feet treatments! And the other ladies‼️ mz spitfire ?lady. I pray and hope you will understand more soon the other gals love and want u too ans will care for you sweet❤️? lady‼️

  8. REPLY
    Lila says

    Lady, my dear! Her story always makes me want to cry… but happy tears since she is with you guys. Healing at her own pace, with you always there and never letting her down, it is too beautiful!. It amazes me the degree of deep communication between youguys and the elephants in the sanctuary.
    Love from Mexico!!!

  9. REPLY
    SALLIE says

    We girls, do need our private space at times! Hang in there, lady! You are doing great!

  10. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    This is what sanctuary ought to be! Lady has come so far, allowed to gradually realise that she has choices, that the humans around her want the best for her, to live without fear, to heal, to simply be Lady.
    Reading this blog has made my day start with joy in my heart………ESB is healing for us humans, too. If the animals are happy and at their ease, then so am I.

  11. REPLY
    Bobi StaySee says

    After hanging on every word, by the end I felt like I’d seen a film of that moment with trunk poised in question mark of recognition of old justified conditioning…a gigantic mark of trust. Priceless. (Now if only I could do the same thing before lashing out based on past experiences…to take a moment and reflect first shows a being far more advanced than this human.)

  12. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    Just thinking of the pain, fear, sadness and anxiety that this sweet soul suffered for decades makes me truly in awe of the trust she has developed in this very short time. Your detailed writing makes it easy to visualize her treatments, reactions and progress she has made…. so thank you GSE once again.

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