Working with animals is all that I have ever wanted to do. There was never any doubt about that. Even as a child one of the little make-believe games my brother, our friend and I played was about me being an animal trainer, and of course they were the viscious animals. In high school I spent a lot of time going to animal shows and talked to trainers afterwards. They all said to get a degree but equally important was to get experience volunteering with animals. To this day I find myself giving that same bit of advice to anyone that asks me. In college I had a moment of doubt that I would be able to make it work and thought I should do the sensible thing. There was a recession at the time and it was extremely difficult for anyone to even find a job. I changed my major to Chemistry so that I had more options. The dream had never left my heart so when I moved from Connecticut to South Carolina and had an opportunity to work with animals I never looked back. One of things that I love the most about having our own organization is that now I can provide those opportunities for people with their own dreams.
There was a down side. Every trainer also said to be prepared to have to have a second job just to get by. It was a job that was done out of passion and love for the animal world but that it did not pay well. This did not deter me and to my surprise, my parents never tried to talk me out of it. Keep in mind though that this does not mean they were always happy about it. ;) I have always had to work very long hard hours. There haven't been any 'extras' in my life because of it. I haven't traveled to exotic locations, I don't have fancy new clothes, my hair has even been the same long straight style for all of my adult life. I must say that although it would be nice to have some of those things I have never felt that I have missed out on anything. I have been doing everything that I have ever wanted to do. I do know that this whole concept has frustrated and worried several of my family members. I can't say that I blame them for being worried but as my father had always told me "it's only money, your happiness is more important". This was often told to me when I made (or changed) plans that cost them money, such as cancelling a wedding. I don't think he meant it in the way I've been living my life but it does go both ways. The money would certainly be an added bonus but it's nothing compared to the pride I have in how I've lived my life.
I lost one of my best friends just a couple of years ago. She was much too young to die but I know that Jennifer lived every day of her life the way she wanted to. She never wasted a minute and enjoyed life. Despite the fact that we were opposite in many ways. I am so grateful that this is one way in which we are (were) very much alike.