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A day in the life of an Animal Trainer by Grace Dickinson

Inspired Life Ambassador Grace Dickinson shares ones of her projects

I’m currently in Spain, somewhere about 5 hours drive North of Madrid. It’s hot and sunny, but we’ve been predicted snow by the end of the week!. I am here because I train animals for TV and film, and have been hired for one of the craziest assignments I’ve ever undertaken- training a hamster to drive a truck, or steer it at least. I have been training a number of hamsters for several weeks to follow a carrot so they can be controlled and directed left or right by the driver while they run in a giant wheel mounted on the steering wheel of the vehicle.

The hardest bit is acclimatising the animals to working in very noisy and unstable environments so they don’t get scared and can focus on the job in hand on the day. We arrive at the location, a slate quarry, at 7am so the film crew can set up. There is a helicopter there to film epic aerial shots of the hamster driving the truck out of the quarry up the narrow stony pathways, and people filming behind the scenes footage and interviews with me and the rest of the team working on the project. I train the animals throughout the day both in a practice wheel and in the truck itself to get them ready for shoot day, and have to train the driver how to handle the animals too!

The sun is unbearable, and like on any film shoot, there is an awful lot of waiting around which can be boring, especially in a dusty quarry! It’s only a skeleton crew of me and the truck technicians today so the facilities aren’t great and as the only girl I have to go and hide behind a boulder if I want to pee. When the day is over we are driven in 4x4s up the very scary, narrow bumpy roads with sheer drops into a blue lake below and snow-capped mountains above us. It takes an hour to get back to the hotel where I sort out the hamsters with some well-earned cereal mix, give them fresh bedding, have a shower (I have to scrub myself 3 times to get all the dust off my arms and legs!) and finally sit down for some late dinner with the rest of the team, and into bed by about midnight, not forgetting set the alarm for 5am tomorrow!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUF_PpJTwF8

Grace Dickinson - You Tube Footage

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