When raising a baby animal (or any baby for that matter), time put in is of the utmost importance. Especially in the beginning, feedings are around the clock, and just like all moms, sleep is often sacrificed to ensure a strict routine feeding schedule. The bond between animal & trainer is so important for the overall safety of each one's future. The time put in goes well beyond an eight-hour work day. Most days last much longer than 10 hours AT the Triple D property (7 days a week). But then most days, one or more animals will go home with staff members in order to continue to put in that time to our "work" and to the important bond.
These treks home with us though, while fun and super cool, aren't always just a barrel full of monkeys. (Thank goodness we have no monkeys here!) It can also be A LOT of work. Once the "kiddos" really start to develop (walk, run, jump, climb, etc...), it can become a constant flow of "no's" and "ah ah!"...along with many thoughts questioning our own sanity and "why on earth didn't I decide to relax tonight instead???" The answer is always revealed many times over throughout the animal's life. It could be a good morning head bump during our routine walk-thru. It could be that moment when "on your mark" finally clicks in a training session, and they're just as excited as me that they understand what I'm asking from them. It could be that intense moment when something spooks them and I (or anyone that raised them) am the only thing that can comfort and reassure them. It could be that even more intense moment when a wild animal shows that they are indeed forever wild, and in that moment of "wild" they remember just how important you are to them and they control their displaced aggression as to not inflict real harm. Or it could be one of the most intimate moments we get to have with these animals, and that is when they are actually so comfortable and at so much ease with our presence that they actually fall asleep...sometimes even in our laps! No matter the cause for this unveiled answer, it is undoubtedly the most fulfilling answer I personally could have. I sacrifice little bits of my time, sanity, rest, and sleep for the absolute love and adoration for what I am lucky enough to get to do on a daily basis.
There is no other life I would want to live than the one I get to now. This is not my job. This is not my career. This is my lifestyle. Without these animals, I would not be who I am. They define me and they are my makeup. Each animal that comes into my everyday life is another brick in the foundation of my heart and soul.