Thursday, August 11, 2011

Camel Stops By For Breakfast Every Day


Dog owners are used to their pooches trying to mooch food when they sit down to a peaceful meal. Nathan and Charlotte Anderson-Dixon have the same thing happen to them every morning -- except the begging comes from their three-year-old camel, Joe.

The couple lives on a farm near the British town of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, England and each morning they attempt to have a nice quiet breakfast with their 18-month-old son, Reuben.

Inevitably, the couple barely has a chance to sit down before Joe pokes his head through their conservatory window to help himself to something to eat.

He's not particularly picky. Joe happily chows down on bread, cereal and fruit.

Joe, who stands 5.83 feet, is especially fond of bananas on toast -- but turns up his nose at cheese.

Although Joe lives with four other camels, he is the only one to share breakfast with his owners. The others have to eat hay, barley, straw and corn mix in their stable.

"The first time Joe joined us for breakfast he was uninvited," said Nathan Anderson-Dixon. "He leaned in and rudely helped himself to the fruit bowl. But I wasn't surprised because he's very good at persuading all the other animals to give him their food too."

Now Joe comes over most mornings and hovers around in anticipation. The Anderson-Dixons were frustrated at first, but have gotten over that hump.

"He is like a big soft giant teddy bear and has become part of the family," Anderson-Dixon, 32, said. "We open the window and he puts his head through to take bread and fruit from the table."

But that doesn't mean Joe doesn't have to sing for his supper, er, breakfast. The Anderson-Dixons use him for camel races.

In addition, he has become somewhat of a surrogate sibling for little Reuben.

"Joe is like a big brother to Reuben," Anderson-Dixon said. "Reuben thinks it's quite normal to sit and have breakfast with a camel. He likes riding ponies and it won't be long until he is riding Joe."

Although the Anderson-Dixons have gotten used to Joe's freeloading, Nathan jokes he is frustrated by one aspect of the morning meals.

"Despite his regular visits, Joe hasn't mastered a knife and fork yet," he said.

Gil Riegler, who owns the Oasis Camel Farm in Ramona, Calif., with his wife, Nancy, hasn't ever had breakfast with any of his camels, but isn't surprised by Joe's in-your-face attitude.

"I definitely agree that they are like big Teddy bears," he said. "Although they are sweet in nature, some desire the company of man more than others. Joe is a good example of a camel that reaches out and communicates to us more than others and I would bet you anything that if he just got some scratching in the back of his ear when he poked his head through the window he would still come over and hang out."

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