How can I make you feel better today?

How can I make you feel better today?

I watched an episode of Royal Pains, an easy going and fun series about a concierge doctor’s practice called HankMed in the Hamptons. When answering the phone they say: “How can we make you feel better today?”.

In the past when I was still working full-time in a zoo I often forgot to focus on the details, because I was so swamped with work and full filing the needs of our visiting public, safety ect. For example, I did not always notice that the bedding material was less in quantity or not of good quality and the nest building of our small rodents was OK but not ideal. With the marine mammals like dolphins, seals, seal lions and walruses we used some enrichment devices but most objects would only float and were hard to take to the bottom, or to interact with in the water column.
By paying more attention details, to quality as well as quantity of life we can make positive changes for the animals we care for.

Of course I am not suggesting that all the animals we take care of are sick or not having good welfare, but I do like this client-centred approach where one is sensitive to another’s needs, such as comfort, the feeling of being important and cared for. The animals we care for are all important individuals and I like the idea of asking “how can I make you feel important today?”. What is it that I can do for you to make it better? How can I make your environment safe, complex, stimulating, etc.? How do I provide for social opportunities, for learning new skills, for relaxed sleeping and resting areas, and what can I do to make you feel good, to make you feel important and cared for?

Animal care is a dynamic profession and field, and we are continually learning about the different species, and individuals every day about the individuals we care for, and we keep learning about the different species and individuals that we care for. How can we this theory and knowledge to the best of our abilities, and apply it to improving practical daily care?
We should not do what we do just because, just because we have always done it this way. A common sentiment and hurdle in the progress of animal care, and obstacle to providing the animals with the best welfare standards and according to best practice.
We should challenge the status quo and push the envelope, challenge ourselves and our programs to ensure we do it at best practice levels, and exceed in providing the best care.
If every time I come to work I ask “how can I make you feel important today?”, I will hopefully try my utmost to care for the individual animal and or the group.

Professional animal care goes way beyond cleaning and feeding. Enrichment, training, complex environments, adequate nutrition, appropriate social groups for social animals, choice and control over the environment, excellent human - animal relationships, they all are building blocks in professional animal care programs that hold animal welfare as the priority and at the highest standards.

So next time you go to work at the zoo, shelter, or even with your pets and other animals at home, make sure to ask “How can I make you feel better today?”.

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