Enviable Careers


The other day, I stood in front of an assemblage of veterinarian students at Texas A and M University. Those bright, scrubbed faces are specializing in exotic animal medicine and will be our next generation of animal medical specialists. Their minds were like sponges, some taking notes - of what I was saying - soaking up every word, every bit of information.

I will have to admit, that as I looked over the group I felt a tiny twinge of envy. When I was their age, today's vast array of information and diagnostic equipment was just not available. Pity began to set in a bit: Why, I had to walk 5 miles to school through fields of snow.......................

Reality peeked through as they looked at the pictures of the sweet hand-raised babies and tame adults animals we raise. I heard many OOOHS and AAAHHHs.

One female student, pretty with no 1make-up and hair pulled back in a pony tail, said to me after the program - something like I was soooooo lucky and she envied my way of life.

My way of life! Gee, she was right!

Sometimes, I probably take it all for granted - that I am in a career that I chose and that I love.

You and I, as caretakers of these wonderful animals, are in a unique and enviable position. Enviable to nearly everyone we meet that loves to be around animals.

The exotic animal breeder today gleans the priceless knowledge from his/her daily intimate 'hands-on' experience that cannot be learned from a text book, a 30 minute physical examination or tons of diagnostic tests.

We get this experience, because the animals are our life - yours and mine. Nearly everything we do, revolves around them, including most of our friends. Do you remember the days when you and your spouse took real vacations - TOGETHER! Those days are now long gone for us because there are few people we can trust with our animals' lives.

As breeders and foster parents of a multitude of youngsters every year, we treasure the moments spent with our animals and the privilege of observing the peculiar adaptations each species has developed to flourish in their very own niche in nature.

You as an owner/caretaker are able to perceive many behaviors that can never be seen by someone the animals do not trust. And trust is something you earn by your husbandry and respect of the animals' needs.

No matter how many Rolls Royces you buy for your veterinarian as you pay your monthly bills, he/she will be very dependent upon you and your observations in order to make a reasonably accurate diagnosis when your animal is sick. You will be able to tell when your animal's habits are different than normal and might be a precursor to a health problem.

We have the opportunity to look at the finely honed skills passed on from generations of success in the wild.

  • How caracals can leap 6-8 feet in the air to catch a ball - or a bird!
  • How a coatimundi can figure out how to open most any latch or fastener - or clam!
  • How an African crested porcupine knows when to use those monstrous 18" quills that take 6 months to grow back - or can drive them clear through an intruder at will.
  • How a Fennec pup can learn to retrieve a soft dumbbell and then bring it to you- after it 'kills' it.
  • I marvel at how:
  • Most babies are imprinted by their early caretakers and usually trust them for life.
  • The gentleness that even the most formidable species can have when hand-raised.
  • How we can take orphan youngsters and raise them to adulthood.

  • I have met many wonderful people in this business - and some that don't deserve to be in it at all, for both our sake, the sake of their animals and the future of this business.

    Our actions can and will affect other people in the business - especially if they are negative! There are predators out there waiting to pounce upon us if we screw up!

    Yes, you and I are so fortunate to be in a 'career' that we love - but one with great responsibility to the animals we care for every day - and each other.


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