Talking to Animals
The fictional character Dr. Doolittle talked to the animals. What a world it would be if everyone could communicate in the same manner as Dr. Doolittle. Animal workers actually do. Well, they don't speak horse, snake, or chimpanzee, but they do understand body language, moods, and mannerisms. All animal care workers have an ability to “talk” to the animals. It's a skill that can be innate or learned.
“When you work with different breeds of dogs,” says Susan Briggs, “you get a better understanding of the breeds.” “For instance, Border collies are working dogs. Most of the bloodlines were bred for their herding abilities. [In New Zealand and Australia, they are used to herd sheep.] They need space to run. Golden retrievers are social dogs; they need to be around people and other dogs. Golden retrievers like to play wrestle. Yorkshire terriers, on the other hand, don't like rough play like a golden retriever. We can't put a Yorkshire terrier together with a large dog like a golden retriever in our doggie daycare center.
“When you work with animals, you get to know the breed,” says Briggs. “Those mannerisms tell a lot. You can read about and study different animals, and if you are going to work in this profession, you need to. However, you can also learn a lot on the job.”
American Kennel Club judges actually study one breed at a time. They specialize in a handful of breeds. “Since so many dogs are different, we focus on one breed at a time in order to better communicate with them,” says Dr. Burch.
How many jobs are available for dogs?
The jobs are too numerous to count. Dogs work as assistance dogs, guard dogs, herding dogs, and animal actors. The jobs for dogs and the people who work with them are quite broad.
Understanding biology and science also factors into reading what an animal is trying to tell us. Veterinarians, zookeepers, and even pet owners know when an animal isn't feeling well. “Science comes into play a lot when trying to figure out why an animal isn't feeling well,” says Dr. May.
Before taking a position with the American Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. May worked as a board-certified equine/large animal surgeon. “You could easily tell if an animal wasn't feeling well,” she says. “By understanding veterinary medicine and horses, in my case, I knew what was wrong. It's a lot of science and you also use your intuition too.” That's how it is possible to talk to animals.