Prey Animals

Survival of the fastest

Over the past few years I have noticed one big thing with me, I am a prey animal. I work in the animal field and though I would love to say it’s always wagging tails and kisses, it is not. I have tried and tried to reign in my fight or flight response especially since it is more flight than fight but I can’t seem to make it be less when a dog or cat lunges at me with really sharp teeth and claws. Try as I may, my adrenaline starts pumping and usually the reflex to jump ten feet back away from the danger is not the best thing to do, and according to some of the doctors I work with. It is actually showing that aggressive animal that they won. I could have told that animal they won from the moment it growled and showed me it’s large teeth and nails, but I regress, that is not apparently what I am to do. Prey animals don’t normally stay and fight, they usually see the danger and run. I am all for that but the doctors I work with don’t tend to be too happy when their holder disappears, so I stay and hold on for dear life.

I was able to think more on this today when it seemed a memo went out that it was aggressive animal day at the clinic. At least 5% of the animals we saw were aggressive in some way with one willing to bite if I looked at him funny. I am happy for the “happy hats” we used, the muzzles used calmed all but one patient that was looking at me funny too. Majority of my work is with a veterinarian that is very, very calm. She has a way with all animals but especially the scared and nervous variety. They tend to calm down better when she is in the room. I try and learn from her how to remain calm, but then I realized she has a gift. She has accepted that there will be scratches and bites, but she has also accepted that most of those scratches and bites come from animals that are scared and or nervous and need to be dealt with in a more calm and slow way. We are taught safe ways to hold animals for routine procedures. We are safe 99% of the time, but usually that 1% of animals all seem to team up and give us animal care workers a run for our money.

One pet in particular is this sweet, sweet boy, until you try and do anything with him. He was in our clinic to get some vaccines. Simple enough, except for the warnings that pop up on his records that tell us about his ability to bite quick without warning. So with a lot of petting and treats we placed the “happy hat” on and quickly gave him his vaccines. Once we were done, we were able to pet and love on him once more. We are lucky at times to get the warnings that pets try and give us, but sometimes there is no warning unless you are really watching and noticing the signs the animals give. Another animal I worked with was the cat that had been hospitalized for not eating well. I was trying to get a blood sample from him, which was going ok, but not fast enough for him. Right as I was finishing up, he got his paw loose and slapped me right on the hand. Instead of doing what I was supposed to do and keep my hand relatively in the same spot, I pulled my hand back thus creating a bigger scratch from the claw that had dug in. Same sort of thing happened when a really sick dog decided to take a chunk from my finger, I have been told I am to leave my hand in his mouth instead of pull away but that darn flight response kicks in and the next thing I know my fingernail is split and I am nursing a bigger wound on my hand. I know these things can happen in the animal field and luckily they happen few and far between, because we have been trained to look for the signs and our restraint techniques are practiced often, but as the recipient of my share of wounds I will say I wish I didn’t flee so much.

This then got me thinking how many times in my personal life have I decided to take flight instead of stand my ground? I know that as I have gotten older I have come to realize that it is easier and easier to say what I want, but I still don’t like conflict and stress. My flight response has dimmed over time and I have learned to stick it out and see what happens. What this has gotten me is a boost in my confidence. I am more willing to try new things, I love a challenge now and I love to get people to go along with me. New opportunities have come my way and I can walk away from situations knowing I did my best, and that right there is alright with me. Until next time:

Fear has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise

The choice is yours

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