Tonawanda News — In six days from now, it will be officially summer! In seven days from now, it will be Northtown Subaru Dog Days of Kenmore, celebrating dogs and their people. This year’s event is especially exciting for me because I was asked to be a guest judge for their dog-owner look-a-like, coolest trick and best dog costume contests. I hope to see many of you there from noon to 4 p.m. June 22. Please stop by and say hi.
Speaking of summer and dogs, every year when the summer comes around, I think about internships. Dozens of NCCC animal management students, as well as many other students from other colleges and universities, are being proactive by getting their hands dirty in the animal field. Having a foot in the door, even if it is doing free labor, is a great move into procuring a vocational job such as animal trainer or zookeeper.
Many years ago, I met Kayla Bergman when she was an intern at the Aquarium of Niagara in late summer, early fall 2006. She was working with the California sea lions and harbor seals. Later in winter 2007, she was hired to teach school groups about marine life. She graduated from Buffalo State College and has been working as a marine mammal keeper at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, Brooklyn, for about four years. There, she works with a variety of birds, fish and marine mammals, including walruses.
I know that I bring my skill set of animal training home with me every day, and I was curious to find out if others did the same.
In six-plus years in the field of marine mammal care, Kayla has had the opportunity to train a wide variety of behaviors — including blood collection, radiographs, ultrasound, oral and eye care, fast swims and jumps out of the water — by reinforcing small approximations.