Saying Goodbye…

It’s tough, it’s usually hard saying goodbye. It seems there have been quite a few goodbyes lately. The most recent was saying goodbye to Laramie, the Golden Eagle at the zoo. She had been sick the past few weeks and severely went downhill this past week. She passed away on Friday last week. One of the oldest animals we had at the zoo, and one who had been there the longest, Laramie was amazing. I feel so very lucky to have been a trainer on her, and to have had the incredible experiences of being able to handle her, carry her onstage for shows, and learn from her on a daily basis. I already miss everything about her, except maybe of course having to skin rats for her dinner. It’s only been a few days that she’s been gone, but I still get sad when I go into the mews and see her empty mew, and her outdoor perch which she spent so many hours sitting on, watching people go about their daily activities.

These were taken not even 2 weeks before she died. Oh how I love this eagle.

Other goodbyes, let’s see…… we had to go through another semester turn over process for animals we were trainers on just for the past semester. This meant turning them over to new trainers. I had 2 semester animals that I had to say goodbye to: Savuti the Hyena and James the Donkey. With James, I still get to stay on him as a Groomer so I can talk to him and spend time with him still. But Savuti was hard to turn over, I grew to love him soooo much, and I have a whole new fascination with hyenas now since training him. He is an amazing animal and so smart. I trained him to allow me to vaccinate him, and for my final exam, I actually had to give him both a rabies and a distemper vaccination. I also trained him on a Focus behavior where he will listen to other people ask him behaviors and do them, then I reinforce him (feed him). Usually he only listens to his trainers as they have his food. The third thing I trained him was to do a “Peek” while he was standing with his paws on his shelf, then he peeked underneath it – so cute! I got 100% on all my exams with him. : )

However, turning over semester animals also means that we get new animals to train for the coming semester! I am happy to announce that I am a trainer on one of our new baby goats (Elliot) and the adorable Beaver, Hudson. I’m very very excited!!

Now back to July, I got a week off so I headed back home to Canada and it was wonderful. I got to visit with family, and even go to a family reunion to see relatives I haven’t seen in ages! I also got to visit some of my friends, but not as many as I hoped to, there just wasn’t enough time to do everything : (

So since I don’t really have a home in Canada anymore cause it was sold after I moved here, I got to go stay at my parents beautiful country estate in Victoria. Poor Angus and Zoey had to stay behind in Cali, and my parents little dog Mitzy missed them. They used to love going to my parents place and Mitzy loved having them visit. It was awesome being “home” again, and I was lucky enough to have my guy come home with me. Steve had never been to the West Coast of Canada before, and I was pretty eager to show him around. We got to go over to Vancouver for one day, so he got to experience the BC Ferries for the first time. (ugh, for anyone that knows that BC Ferries, you will know what I mean when I say I have spent WAY too much time on those ferries over my lifetime….that’s what you get when you live on an island). I miss Vancouver and the little town I lived in near it. We even walked right by my old house on our way to meet up with one of my very best friends Jodi and her awesome daughter (who is in several of the mini albums featured in my book!). Love those 2 girls SO much, so it was awesome seeing them, and I was so excited for them to meet Steve. It had been a whole year exactly since I had seen them but once we were with them, it was as if no time went by.

We also went right downtown Vancouver on the new skytrain that was built for the Olympics, to visit my Dad at his office, and we also visited Brent and the cats! Oh Oscar and Gracie – I miss them so much! It breaks my heart that they are there and I’m here without them : (

The rest of the week we spent in Victoria. My dad cooked amazing meals for us. Steve got to try perogies for the first time and the awesome Hungarian Langos (also called elephant ears when they are found at fairs and stuff). We ate so much that week! My mum taught Steve how to embroider which was pretty cool and he’s actually really good at it now.

I got to meet 2 very special little people that I had been waiting to meet for months. My best friend Britt had twins while I was away, and they were 8 months old and I hadn’t yet met them. A boy and a girl and they are perfect. Britt is close with my family so my mum has got to spend quite a bit of time with these babies, and I got to spend quite a bit of time with them while I was home. : )  It was really hard saying goodbye to everyone when we had to leave. I was sad to leave my parents again, having only seen them a couple times in the past year, but at least I know I get to see them around Christmas, so I’m looking forward to that a lot. Hard to say goodbye to my friends and really hard to say goodbye to the babies as they will be so much older when I see them again (probably not until next summer).

The rest of the summer we got to do some pretty cool stuff between field trips and Zoo days at other zoos. (Zoo days are where we go shadow zookeepers at LA Zoo and Santa Barbara Zoo for an entire day. We did 4 days during the summer, and we will do 5 this fall.

I think the 2 most memorable field trips we went on this summer were to Universal Studios Hollywood (Animal Actors Show), and… wait for it…. a little place you may have heard of….. the PLAYBOY MANSION!!! Totally awesome. They actually a little zoo there (private collection) of some primates and birds. We got to tour the grounds, visit the game room, the grotto and pool area, and the gym. Very very cool.

Animal Actors Stage: this little dog was in the movie “The Proposal”, she played “Kevin” the puppy : )

haha, thought it was funny that the security of Playboy mansion was controlled by ACS security!

Zoo days were a great experience so far for me. I have done a few different ones so far: Hippo/ Rhino, Nursery, Children’s Zoo, and Elephants. Yes that’s right, ELEPHANTS. My favorite kind of animal, and anyone who knows me real well knows that. And anyone who doesn’t know me real well might guess it if they see the silver elephant hanging on a necklace around my neck. My parents gave it to me right before I moved here and I wear it everyday. For some reason, I have been obsessed with elephants since I was a child. I knew they were special and they are. They are such intelligent and remarkable creatures. But wow, do they produce a lot of poop and it’s HEAVY! 7 wheelbarrows full of poop when I cleaned with the zookeepers. I can only imagine how strong those keepers are! It was a hard day – tons of physical work. But being so close to the elephants and being allowed to touch them was just beyond amazing. Words can’t really describe it. It is still my absolute dream job to be able to work with them one day.

So that was my summer here in California. Not much time to do much of anything else, but Steve and I did take the dogs to the beach one day last week and it was a lot of fun.

He makes me so very happy : ) I am so lucky

Goodbye Summer and Hello to a brand new semester and a new class at EATM for 2012! We are officially 2nd years now! Very exciting but also terrifying as we graduate in just 8 months. I am having the time of my life here, but full of mixed emotions. I miss my family and friends back home, but I’m dreading having to say goodbye to all my classmates here who have become such good friends. Not knowing where I’ll be living or working after I graduate really scares me. I don’t even know what country I’ll be in. This experience has surpassed all my expectations and has been so much more amazing then I ever expected. : )