A Day in the Life of an Animal Behaviour Consultant

My phone rang off the hook yesterday. It was an office work day, writing reports, filing paperwork, returning calls. There is never a day that is like any another, and I am well known for being humble in having to scratch my head and have to say: “Gee … I dunno, I’ve never seen anything like that before.” And then I have to settle down and develop a solution.

So, recently I had the following calls:

A man with a young family have a cat.  They took in a stray cat, which their young son immediately bonded to, but the resident cat has issues and other ideas.  Gotta get some cat harmony in that house asap.

A year or so ago, I saw an African Crested Porcupine, part of an education/enrichment group, who did not want her harness fastened to her, which was necessary for her travels to her education events. One of my friends was SO worried about me getting “quilled” in my face.  In all actuality, it was a challenge to find out how to keep the girl comfortable enough with me that I did not get bitten by the front end or quilled by the back end, but we made it through it.

Then a call came from a young woman with a dog with dog park aggression issues.  Her dog walks in and plays, but then randomly attacks other playing dogs, and during a recent fight another owner was badly bitten.  This is a very, very common problem that I hear from dog parks, and – I go out on a limb here – but I am largely not a fan of dog parks for several reasons.  Most of my concerns revolve around the lack of accountability of people who attend them, and the lack of awareness of dog body language and play behaviours and the ability to re-direct or diffuse that the average, on-the-street pet owner has.

I, personally, would never take my dog to a dog park, but fortunately for me I do have a huge network of fellow dog owners that my dogs have their own friends, and they play safely and supervised in their own back yards. Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits to dog parks and doggie day care centers, but there are a lot of risks that should be addressed before they are casually engaged in.

Moving on … I had a man with physical issues that is struggling with his flesh-eating Macaw.  Sadly, the bird belonged to his wife, who recently passed on, my heart goes out to him as he is having to deal with several very emotionally trying issues.  Placing the bird is an oft-suggested option, but, having done parrot rescue for nearly 30 years, I see these glorious creatures bounced from home to home to home and really hate the idea of re-homing if maintaining a return to harmony in the household is an option. Thankfully, this family is wanting to work with me to save the bond.

And then, a wiggly-giggly one … a young Golden Retriever with no issues other than pottying in the house. Easy peasy. She is 7 months old and physically capable of doing better, this is a sporadic problem, and all her vet tests have already tested clear. Whew, finally something to not worry about!

So, trotting downstairs to  get the chookie chicken people up, once they are fed and settled in for their day, I am off, the parrot girls and my Border Collie, Quill, have already had all their routines taken care of.

Hope everybody has a great day!
TARA Training and Behavior, LLC

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