Lady has a pretty set morning treatment routine. At this point, it’s more in-depth than that of our other elephants. Aside from her pre-existing health issues, she is still new to target training, and it has been incorporated into her treatment routine as well.
Since Lady’s arrival, her routine has evolved as we (humans and Lady both) have figured out what works best and her increased trust allows us to move forward. In the mornings, as soon as Lady finishes her breakfast, we start with a short training session. It works best to do this first because that is when she is still the most food motivated. We focus on the basics, including leaning in and lifting her feet. After target training, we move onto foot soaks. Once we open up the chute with the jacuzzi, she immediately walks through and steps into the tub without us asking.
Although Lady receives treats during foot soaks, her excitement makes us think she enjoys the soaks themselves or associates them with feeling better. She doesn’t usually play in the water during her foot soak sessions anymore (she did in the beginning), although she still occasionally decides an apple cider vinegar spritz is needed. Once we let her know the soaks are over (they last about 15-20 minutes), she will sometimes play in the water before exiting the jacuzzi, or sometimes she’ll step right out.
Next up is her daily bath, and – you guessed it – more treats! We touch, scrub, and manipulate parts of her body (such as her tail) during bath time. As we have mentioned in previous posts, this is to get her used to human touch. This way, if any medical need were to arise anywhere on her body, she would already be somewhat comfortable with us touching the area. We also check her for any bug bites, scrapes or other abnormalities during this time.
As we get set for the next step, Lady gets a brief break in everything before treating her old abscess (located on her face). That involves flushing it with an antibacterial wash and applying light pressure to it to expel any pus. We then use an antibacterial/antifungal spray on the area. Treating her abscess is probably not the favorite part of her day, but it’s medically necessary. And when she is a ‘perfect princess’ she gets one of her favorites, handfuls of dried cranberries. Next, we apply topical treatments to her feet, spray her down with homemade essential oil bug spray, and open up the chute. She meanders out and goes on about her day.
It’s a lot, but we work quickly and efficiently. The entire process usually takes about 45 minutes, start to finish. She seems to enjoy it overall.
Photo is Lady happy happy being wet.