Showing posts from July, 2016

should they miss us? A tribute to Mhlaba

With the age of selfies, have we taken ‘being glorified’ to a whole new level?It begs the question. Am I in it for how I look in relationship with this animal?Or am I in it because I care about this animal?If the second is the answer – Share the love!!!They can feel if you do.

I attended a funeral this weekend.Of a man who worked with us for almost 14 years.He was a trainer with the seals.He had experience doing dog training too.He was exceptional at what he did.Unafraid, clear, calm and loving.The words spoken at his funeral and memorial service earlier in the week all were testament to his amazingness.We have lost a friend, a mentor, a peer, a steadfast incredible person.
He is a Zulu man.And proud of his culture.It is a culture I am familiar with because of where I live, but I am certainly no expert.I do find something quite significant about the Zulu funerals, and this is that they honour the man who has passed, but they are also unashamedly able to express their own personal sadness…

Celebrating Gambit

He recently won the Paaza ambassador animal award. He is 45 years old. So honoured to know him and his family. Blessed too by the fact that he is so loved and loveable. All 480kgs.

Really look to see

imagine painting this picture.  Look at the water light....
We really really need to look to see.  Pay attention.

Had some wonderful lessons recently on this.  First from the all time guru teacher Frodo.  I was busy teaching her to move backwards to a cue.  Basically reverse.  You need to know that Frodo sees and experiences life in much more detail than most of the other dolphins we teach.  And this has led trainers, in the past, to believe she is not very smart.  The truth is - she is way smarter than all of us combined.

When asking her to reverse, she was getting the concept quite nicely.  Then in a session she suddenly began puffing out during the behaviour.  I knew I had not unwittingly reinforced the behaviour of puffing.  But it seemed that she was becoming a little frustrated that I was not acknowledging the puff.  I watched a fellow trainer work with Frodo later in the day - fortunately - because then I saw why the puff.  My colleague was teaching Frodo to blow bubbles in the…

Emo animal people

What provides liberty to do our jobs as animal trainers?  The difference between what is required and what the professional industry expects, is real.  When we are employed as animal keepers, we are told to leave emotion out of the equation.  Or we are criticised for being too emotional.  Our careers are halted because we feel too much. 

Heck, many of us don't even want to go further.  We just want to work with the animals.  Also, there are some really good animal people out there who also make exceptional managers - and why?  Because they not afraid to feel. 

Problem.  Promoted animal managers manage intuitively.  Doing what they do and ensuring that stuff gets done - because the welfare of the animals is the cause.  More than that, intuition is well developed in a good animal trainer.  So they know how to feel what needs doing.  And this does not seem to be the accepted management technique.  So we are sent on management courses...  To put us in a box and teach us to fall in …