|This sort of friendship takes time.|
I've met some other people, too. The human fillies, who go for rides on my back, and who groom me, and who bring the occasional carrot. The vet, who tortures me to within an inch of my one, splendid, precious life. FarmHusband, whom FarmWife promises is one of the world's best men. The neighbors, and the occasional doting fan. I accept them. I neither bite nor kick.
I don't really adore meeting other people, though, and the fact is that I have a bit of a personal space bubble with everyone but FarmWife. They can touch me (some places), they can feed me (of course!) and they can ride me (if FarmWife offers a leg up) but they can't cuddle me and reap the reward of my affection. I'm not that kind of mule.
Here is how it goes when I meet someone new: he offers me pats, and handfuls of grass, and succulent fruits and vegetables. I accept the offerings, and then I stomp away with wrinkled nostrils. I stand a dozen feet off, ears at half mast, and sneer at him with a look of unguarded distain. (I don't mean to . . . that's just how my face is sometimes!) If he approaches again, I flinch from his touch. If I am haltered, I become a biddable slave. I'll stand with him, and be groomed by him, and be led by him, but I will not relax into a devoted friendship with him. I am not like that.
Well, his feelings are hurt. Who can blame him?
So let me tell you now—when this happens to you, please don't take offense. Come again! Bring fruits and vegetables. We will work through it, you and I. I am a big, soft, squishy, lovable angel under this cold, suspicious exterior. I promise.