Archives for June 2008

What Motivates You to Help Animals?

My subscribers are always invited to submit questions. The last time I answered Emma’s question about an animal career (Yes, yes–I see another question from you!) but today it is time to answer Erik.

Erik wrote, What makes you want to help animals? As for me, I was brought up that way and I have always enjoyed going on nature walks. I really want to know.

Soon you’ll find my story up on this blog–but you’ll be interested to learn that my first word was “fish.”

Really, it was.

Everyone now believes that was the first indication of my future destiny–as an animal person. (If you read What Animals Can Teach Us About Spirituality: Inspiring Lessons from Wild and Tame Creatures you will find a lot of my story inside.)

If I had to answer your question, it isn’t like I had a choice–to say I was driven was an understatement–animals and the ocean were my passions. I studied and worked seriously to help animals–starting with marine mammals.

Once my affinity for the psychology of critters was apparent, my path altered to that of training and behavior.

However, over the years I have done a lot of different things on the side trails that took me into many different animal careers and even into marketing, public relations, and management in the process.

Growing up we were fortunate to live a few steps from the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean and the fields across from our home are now a wildlife sanctuary. Back then wildlife and ocean life were always around us.

I also knew all of the domestic animals within the community, too. The interesting thing is that I really didn’t get into domestic animal work until I moved into the mountains of Southern California. (My degrees and certifications are focused on exotic animal training and management, breeding and conservation of endangered species, and also animal behavior, care, and handling.)

Today I live near the wilderness across the street from a lake and wildlife area and I am moving my career focus into educating and writing more and more–it reaches a wider audience and makes a bigger impact.

So, back to your question–what makes me want to help animals?

Ultimately the answer is because I seem to understand and have an affinity with animals. (Many people tease me and complain that they cannot differentiate between my animal and human friends when I talk.)

Anyway, that affinity and understanding motivates me to improve the lives of animals.

Most people love animals but seem to lack that affinity–they want to develop a better understanding of critters and learn how to have a better relationship with them…my job is to help facilitate that.

My longstanding belief is that if you get people to see the individuality of each animal they meet–and then empower them so that they can understand and communicate better with those animals–they will care and be motivated to help them also.

I hope that answers your question Erik. Thanks for writing in.

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If you have a question that is related to a pet problem, animal career question, or other service from which I make my living–you can book an appointment at Hire Animal Expert now.

Work Like A Dog & Take Your Dog to Work Day

Wow, it is hard to believe that today is the Tenth Anniversary of Take Your Dog to Work Day. For those of us who work with animals–this is nothing new–but in the urban jungle you might be surprised to find out that one in five businesses are pet friendly.

The statistics come from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (AAPMA, 2006) survey which revealed that about one in five American companies allowed pets in the workplace. The belief is that having pets on site contributes to a more creative environment, helps coworkers get along better, and decreases absenteeism.

Take Your dog to Work Day focuses on bringing awareness, not just animals, into the workplace.

Other goals of Take Your Dog to Work Day are to facilitate positive interactions between employees at the workplace and to encourage businesses to cooperate with local animal shelters so the number of adoptions is increased. This year the concern is focused on those animals who are victims of foreclosures.

Many animals have been abandoned because of the housing crisis which has forced families from their homes. Animal shelters in Los Angeles, one of country’s hard-hit foreclosure regions, saw a spike of 16% overall in pet drop-offs and the number of animals euthanized shot up 31% in the first four months of 2008, over the same period in 2007.

According to PSI President Patti Moran, this year’s Take Your Dog To Work Day highlights the bond between dog and human with the intention of impacting dogless co-workers who will see how much joy a four-legged friend could bring into their lives so that they choose to adopt.

Thousands of “pet-friendly” companies participate.

There are some important rules to follow if you take an animal to work. The big one is to take responsibility for your pet and never paw it off on someone else—no matter what you position.

My community is very pet friendly and our local kitty supervisors and other critter crew members wonder why they aren’t included in the event–but then they go to work every day!”

To avoid a beastly workday, here are Take Your Dog to Work Day tips:

Employers should
-be sensitive to allergic or fearful employees (and clients) by providing “animal free” zones or using creative scheduling
-provide guidelines to pet parents who plan to bring critters to work
-review or ask for a pet resume that highlights the good citizen traits and manners
-encourage the use of allergy reducing products on pets before they arrive on the workplace
-encourage coffee breaks to coincide with potty breaks

Pet participants should be
-disease and parasite free
-neutered or not in season
-human and animal friendly

Pet parents should
-safely transport their pets to and from work using seat belts or crates (No, it is not true that a dog qualifies you for the car pool lane!)
-arrive with healthy, clean, well behaved animals (recent bath, no fleas, up to date vaccinations)
-bring leash, bowls, toys, treats, and familiar blankets or crates
-schedule breaks for energy release, snacks, and elimination
-bring poop bags and pet hair pickup aids to clean up after your pooch
-give your dog a work station and something to do (use a leash or crate for boundaries and have a chew toy)

For those of you wondering, the old idiom “work like a dog” means to work hard. The song Hard Day’s Night (Beatles, 1964) uses the term but I have not found a source stating just how far back the phrase goes. Usage seems to derive from the fact that dogs were one of the early domesticated animals put to work for humans. Other similar terms have origins from the 16th & 17th century. (If you know the origin please comment below)

Photo in this blog post is Lola, you can vote for her and other favorite dogs during Take Your Dog to Work Day. Check out other cute photos of “dogs on the job” from Take Your Dog to Work Day here.