Credit in the bank?

Credit in the bank?

Bank accounts function best with credit on them, bank accounts with a balance in the red numbers is not very functional and pretty stressful, especially to the person who owes money.

Comparing your relationship with animals you care for as a bank account statement seems a strange thing to do, but really is it so strange? Some years ago we had talk about this at a job I was in at the time and it stuck with me. It is an old idea which seems to circle round and pops up once in a while in different forums on animal training and care. I try to remind myself of this all the time because it is easy to loose out of sight for various reasons.

One of the reason is time. Zoos are notoriously understaffed and we do things quickly and not always thinking it through, what the interaction could do to short - and longterm relationships we build with animals.

Another reason is our sometimes egocentric viewpoint, thinking that we mean the world to the animals, that what we do and who we are is what the animals want, taking their trust, their loyalty and cooperation for granted. But we have to think about what the animals are doing for us, and what we can do for them.

Another reason is that we forget about what we do and how. We often remember the cool and nice interactions with the animals. The training sessions, the attention, the enrichment and the new food item which they liked so much. We tend to downplay the unpleasant cleaning routine or the last catch for a preventive health check or inoculation. We are often too hasty in our interactions because there is so much to do.

For a healthy “financial status” you need to ensure enough money goes into your account, some expenses (debit) are more then others depending on their value, and some income (credit) is higher then others, depending on the work done. So feeding and positively interacting / playing with the animals have different values than when we catch or scare the animals.

For a good relationship with the animals we work with we need to invest to balance. We need to make sure that we have more positive interactions than negative ones, so that animals know that we mean well and they can trust us.

A short video by Dr. Susan Friedman on this topic can be found here