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 working full-time in a zoo or aquarium I did not always pay attention to all the details, because I was so swamped with work and full filing the needs of our visiting public, safety etc. or because I did not know otherwise. 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, sea 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 within the water column. By paying more attention to details, to the quality of e.g., interactions, relationships or sleep, as well as the number of opportunities, and other meaningful aspects of life, we can make positive changes for the animals we care for.

Of course, I am not suggesting that the animals we take care of are not experiencing good welfare, ill or injured. What I do like is this client-centred approach where one is sensitive to another’s needs, such as comfort, the feeling of being important and cared for. We think that 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 feeling safe, welcome, stimulating, etc.? How do I promote social opportunities, for learning new skills, for relaxed sleeping and resting areas? 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 different species, and differences between individuals, the individuals we care for. How can we use this theory and knowledge to the best of our abilities, and apply it to improving practical daily care?

We should challenge the status quo, asking if we are the best that we can be, and challenge ourselves and our programs to ensure we do it at best practice levels and exceed in providing the best care.

I like to ask every time I come to work, “how can I make you feel better and important today?”

Professional animal care goes way beyond cleaning and feeding. Enrichment, training, creating complex environments, nutrition, appropriate social groups for social animals, choice and control, excellence in human-animal relationships, all aspects of a professional animal care program that promote 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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