When you tell someone you work with exotic animals you get a range of reactions. From, could care less to "you're absolutely crazy". The one I've heard the most is, "You're living my dream". This one always makes me smile because I sure know what they mean. I'm living my own dream.... every single day. I mean that each day is another gift given to me to share and improve the lives of these amazing animals. But it always means that I get to care and clean for them.... every single day. You never get a day off. No weekends, no "thank goodness it's Friday", no stress free vacations. I think the closest someone could come to understanding the commitment it takes to "live the dream" is to be a parent, of 70 children.
We cook, clean, bathe, change bedding, clip nails, feed, soothe, medicate, teach, play, set rules, socialize, and love each and every one of these animals like a parent. But you can't take these children to the store with you, or to the park, or even to your friend's house. So when someone tells me, I'm living their dream, I smile and think to myself, "the reality of what I do would probably be closer to a nightmare to you". To me though, it really is my dream and I honestly cannot imagine what I would do with myself if I didn't have the opportunity to give these animals all that I have. And I'm so gosh darn lucky to be able to do it with my amazing husband, Augusto.
p.s. The photo is courtesy of Dan Newton who was crazy enough to be interested in entering our bizarre and slightly overwhelming home to do a photo documentary on our daily lives. Thank you Dan!