Even as a young girl I longed to work with the animals with whom I felt such an innate bond. Much of what I needed as a youth I found in them. Starting in kindergarten I found myself bringing home class pets such as Audrey the Guinea Pig. Then the parade of animals continued to include: dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, gerbils, frogs, and fish. These were the beings with whom I had found a unique kinship. I needed to find a way to give back. While I hold a BA in English, an MA in Near Eastern Judaic Studies, a MSW in Social Work, and am a LCSW, it took me all that time to truly find my niche.
As it turns out, my long, circuitous journey to find my passion proved to be what I required to achieve my dreams, who knew!? Understanding and assessing the emotional and psychological state of a being, in my case the non-human being, is what a social worker does. Achieved by verbal and non-verbal communication, a like. To this end, I have become highly fluent in dog language and culture. I continue to educate myself about their complex use of negotiating signals, body language, and vocalizations. As a pet parent and animal professional, it is my job to continue to educate myself.
Animals also possess a deep empathy that comes the mindfulness of staying present in the body. Animals truly show up and bring themselves to everything they do. For social work, empathy is a must to be able to intuit needs beyond what is just visible and tangible. As an animal care professional, I, too, work with individuals and group dynamics. I learn, see, and understand from experience that the pets I care for run the gambit of emotions that humans; therefore, must be treated, respected, and cared for as the individuals they are.