For the Love of Shelter Dogs*

Carol Ann & Some Updates
November 21, 2009, 5:53 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Goodness, I’ve been absent from here for a while. I got pretty wrapped up in classes, work, and the shelter that I haven’t had much time to get online and blog! But I’m back, so here’s a few updates:

The Amaizing Pet Adventure went very well! We had a great turn-out and raised quite a bit of money for the shelter. I’ll have a few pictures up in a couple days.

And now for some sad news. Unfortunately, Bambi didn’t find a home in time and had to be humanely euthanized on November 5. The only way I can look at it without being overwhelmed with sadness for her is to see that she’s not cooped up any longer. That, and her leaving opened the cage up for someone else to have a chance at a loving home.

And now, some good news! Carol Ann was adopted today! A nice older couple came into the shelter looking for a dog that would like to spend lots of time inside with them, and one of our lovely volunteers showed them Carol Ann. She took her out for them and showed how she tried to “hold it” until she was outside. Then she showed them how sweet she is when she’s in her cage – her comfort zone. They fell in love with her and took her home today. Now she’s in a home on a farm! I couldn’t have asked for a better ending than that for her!

I know it's blurry, I borrowed it from the shelter's website! She doesn't like to stay still...

Congratulations to Carol Ann!


Buddy, Jitter, and Carol Anne
September 4, 2009, 12:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Good news! Buddy the chunky Golden was adopted! He was being fostered for a couple of weeks by one of the shelter staff, and she fell in love with him so she decided to take him home. He lost 5 lbs while he was in foster care. Hopefully his new mom will be able to help him lose more!

Jitter, a really sweet shepherd mix, finally found a home yesterday. Hopefully this home will stick. She was adopted a while ago and was returned for some reason (probably “too active”). Yesterday a family saw her and fell in love with her. They had a 3 year old daughter who also seemed to love her. We asked her what she wanted to name her and she said “Hinky Dinky Doo!” and her parents sighed and said “We’ll come up with a better name than that. Preferably something with fewer syllables.” Jitter jumped up on the girl and knocked her down, but the family still decided to adopt her! Usually most people would put the dog back in and leave. Hopefully this family will stick and Jitter will never come back to the shelter.

I’ve been working with a sweet little lab mix named Carol Anne. I call her Carol. She’s so sweet and adorable, but she’s scared out of her mind. She doesn’t want to leave her cage. I usually end up dragging her outside, and all the shelter visitors in the lobby look at me like I’m killing her. Once we’re finally outside she paces and jerks the leash and tries as hard as she can to get back inside. I feel so sorry for her. She’s getting a little better about walking on the leash outside, but she still doesn’t enjoy it. She just needs a person to adopt her and show her a happy home where she doesn’t have to be so afraid all the time!

Bambi, Moo, & Sam
August 19, 2009, 2:16 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve been working with a hound mix recently named Bambi. I’m not sure why they named her Bambi – she’s got a greyish-brown patch on her back and head with little polka-dots over her neck and legs. They say she’s a hound mix, but I think she’s more of a Dalmatian-hound mix, if she has any hound in her at all. She’s been at the shelter too long – since last December (2008) and I think it’s starting to take its toll on her.

She’s starting to act frantic when I walk her out to the pen. She jumps up on me and tries to grab my arm or the leash, like she’s trying to find a lifeline. I’m trying to teach her to walk on the leash politely, so I always push her down and she jumps right back up. If we don’t get outside fast enough she starts to whine and claw at the door, and people look at me like I’m torturing her. Once we’re outside, though, she’s perfectly fine. She loves to run and play and she chases after the tennis balls (and then I chase after her). She knows how to sit and she’s learning how to lay down on command. She’s so sweet and loves to be with people, but people don’t ever look at her. She’s the kind of dog that gets overlooked, either because she’s medium sized, “hound” mix (a lot of people look down on hounds for one reason or another – stupid, loud, headstrong, hard to teach), or because she’s energetic.

Anyway, I spent some time walking her in circles around the parking lot and her leash-manners improved greatly. It seems like once she gets some of her energy out she’s perfectly fine. Hopefully someone will see her and fall in love with her like I did!

Sweet Bambi

Sweet Bambi

I took out a few more dogs, then as I was heading back in one of the shelter’s head vet-techs said “Good, I’m glad you’re still here!” My first thought was “Oh no, what did I do!?” She said “Are you putting the dog back?” I nodded. She said “Great, I have a job for you.” I put the dog back and she led me to a cage. I looked down and this little black and white splotched puppy was staring back up at me. The vet tech said “This is Moo. He was adopted and returned because he’s very mouthy – he actually broke his owner’s skin. If you could work with him – teach him to sit or something, or just teach him not to mouth as much – I’d really appreciate it.” Now, usually the shelter handles the training or evaluation by themselves, or they put the dog in question into foster care so a foster family can devote time to it. And us volunteers aren’t allowed to touch puppies under 7 months so we don’t spread diseases from dogs to puppies. So I was very honored to be assigned a puppy to work with! It’s nice that they notice all the training work I put into these dogs.

I took out little Moo and spent an hour with him in one of the puppy pens. He didn’t really get mouthy with me, but I found another potential problem. He doesn’t like to be hugged, and people love to hug puppies. It reminded me of David – the foster pup from last year with all the behavioral problems. David had fear-aggression and he hated for me to pick him up and hug him. Moo isn’t fear-aggressive, thank goodness. He just panics. So I spent the hour playing ball with him, trying to get him to sit, and scooping him into my arms and hugging him through his panic-stages. He did calm down after a while and he started letting me hug him without thrashing.

Towards the end of my hour with Moo, a mother and her daughter came outside walking a fuzzy collie mix named Sam. Sam is dark brindle with one brown eye and one blue eye. I watched them play with him for a while – they seemed pretty competent and were telling him to sit instead of jumping up (and he listened!) so I asked them what they were looking for in a dog. The mom responded “Well, I really want a female because females just seem cleaner, you know? But Sam…Well, my childrens’ father passed away last year, and he had one blue eye and one brown eye, just like Sam.” They both were silent for a second – Sam responded to this by sitting at the girl’s feet – and then the mom said “Do you know if he’s good with cats?” I told her I wasn’t sure and I wasn’t allowed to test it out.

I don’t think they adopted him because of the cat question, but the story was very touching.

The shelter had a half-priced adoption weekend this weekend, so we had many dogs and cats (and bunnies!) find homes. So many of the long-time dogs got adopted to hopefully forever homes, including Grover (an older lab/hound mix), Aiden (a shepherd mix), Ginger (a terrier mix), Salvatore (a terrier mix), and Rodaca (a German Shepherd mix). Hopefully the adoptions will keep up!

Scooby, Rudy, Baby, and Buddy
July 23, 2009, 3:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Our foster kittens went back to the shelter on Monday, so now they’re awaiting their new homes. I doubt it’ll be long before they’re snuggled on someone’s bed, clawing someone else’s furniture. But really, they were adorable, and I miss them. Now that they’re back at the shelter, though, I’m able to volunteer again!

It was so hot out today I wasn’t able to keep the dogs outside for too long. Even with a bowl of water, a lot of them were really hot and ready to go back inside after a few minutes.

I took out Scooby first today. He’s a big, tan, muscular boxer (maybe American bulldog) mix. He was pretty strong when I walked him, but he responded very well when I tugged the leash. I took him out to a back pen and let him off the leash. I expected him to jump on me the first chance he got, but he didn’t. I sat down in a little folding chair and waited for the impending lap-jump, but it never came. He ran over and leaned against my legs while I scratched behind his ears. He was surprisingly calm for such a big young boy.

After I put Scooby back I took out Rudy. Rudy is a big mutt. He resembles a Dobie a bit in the face, but his body is too stocky with muscle to be a Dobie. I let him off the leash in a back pen and watched as he jogged around the pen, stopping intermittently to mark various plants, rocks, parts of the fence, and finally the chair I wanted to sit in. He’s not neutered yet. A couple was walking a dog by our fence and Rudy started getting worked up. I put a hand on his head and said “Easy, boy,” and looked up at me like “But Mom…!” It was pretty cute.

I took out Baby, a beautiful Great Pyrenese, next. She’s just about a year old and she’s absolutely beautiful. She was curled up in her cage when I passed, and I just couldn’t resist that pathetic, shy, frightened look in her eyes. I took her out to one of the small back cages and just sat there with her. I brushed her a little and petted her. She laid her head on my lap for a good part of the time I was sitting with her. The poor girl was surrendered because her owners couldn’t afford her anymore. She can’t understand why she’s there, and this kills me. I wish I could explain to her that her family loved her but just couldn’t take the best care of her and needed to give her up. I wish I could explain to all the dogs (and cats, for that matter) why they’re there, tell them that people still love them.

I took Buddy out before I left. He’s a 6 year old Golden Retriever (maybe a mix) who is horribly obese and has a mole under his left eye. I mean, I’ve seen fat dogs before, but this poor guy is actually obese. He has rolls of fat on his neck. Dogs shouldn’t have rolls of fat! This poor boy was surrendered because his family’s other animals wouldn’t accept him. I brushed him for about a half hour this afternoon. I probably got a pile of hair about the size of a small cat out of this guy. He’s shedding like crazy! I took him for a short walk before I put him back. We have to start somewhere with the exercise, and he doesn’t have enough stamina to do a long walk or even a run yet. Hopefully whoever adopts him will get him back into shape, because he’s just too fat!



Buddy, from the top. Poor boy, he's so wide!

Buddy, from the top. Poor boy, he's so wide!

Kitten Update
June 30, 2009, 3:55 am
Filed under: Foster Kittens

Our foster kittens are all doing very well. They went back to the shelter today for a check up and they all have upper respiratory infections and conjunctivitis. They’re on meds now and will hopefully be all better in a few days.

Keesa is a lot bigger now. She started out as the odd kitten out because she was from a different litter. It’s very obvious now that she’s a week older, at least, than the other kittens. She’s very big and very much a bully. But she’s adorable and loves to be held and cuddled.

Kaydence is a mess! She’s a crazy little kitty and has learned how to climb up legs. I’ll be standing at the counter fixing their food, and all of a sudden I feel kitten-claws gripping my leg and moving upwards. It’s a little freaky, but she’s too cute to be mad at!

Kesler is growing stronger. We weren’t too sure about his neurological health for the first week and a half, and we’re still not entirely convinced he’s a normal little kitten, but he’s getting a lot better. He’s learned to use the litter box, though he still doesn’t like to (he’ll go as far from it as possible to do his business). We’re trying to think of a way to encourage litter-box-usage, but so far we haven’t come up with any brilliant plans. He’s eating well and playing with the other kitties, so we think he’s just a slow learner.

Callahan is my little baby. I love him! I didn’t think I’d like a kitten this much, but I really do. If I could adopt a kitten, I’d adopt Callahan. He’s such a lovey little guy. I’ll lay down on my stomach with my arms under my face and tuck him between my arm and my face and he’ll curl up and fall asleep. He loves to be cuddled with, but he also loves to play. He’s a great little kitty.

Magnus is now named Cooper (as in Mini Cooper, though he’s not really the runt anymore). He is identical to Callahan, except Cooper has bright green eyes and Callahan has bright blue eyes. Cooper is a wild little guy, but he’s fun. He doesn’t cuddle as much as his twin, but he really likes to sit on us. He’s precious.

More pictures will follow, but I haven’t taken them off my camera yet.

For the Love of Shelter Cats?
June 13, 2009, 3:37 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Since our foster puppies got parvo we aren’t able to foster puppies until next summer, at least. The shelter always has a lot of kittens that are in need of foster homes, so we decided to foster a litter of kittens. We picked up our 5 kitties today – three male and two female. One of the females is from a different litter that appears to be a week older, so we have 4 three week old kitties and one 4 week old kitty.  They’re really adorable. The males are named Callahan, Kesler, and Magnus (he’s the runt) and the females are named Kaydence and Keesa.

Little Keesa, the four-week-old from the other litter

Little Keesa, the four-week-old from the other litter



Little Magnus, sleeping on our kitten-care-guide

Little Magnus, sleeping on our kitten-care-guide

Little Kesler, not quite sure what to do

Little Kesler, not quite sure what to do

Keesa on the left and Kaydence on the right. So sleepy and cute!

Keesa on the left and Kaydence on the right. So sleepy and cute!

I’ll keep updating as they grow! We have them until July 20, so there will be many more updates.

Mariamme and I are heading an adoption fair tomorrow, so there won’t be any kitten-cuteness until Sunday or Monday. But check back!

Yard Sale and Adoption Fair
June 8, 2009, 3:00 am
Filed under: Adoption Fair

This weekend was the shelter’s second yard sale. For a couple weeks we’d been asking for donations from the public of items we could sell, so that all the money we raised could be donated to the shelter. We got a lot of donations, from clothes to CDs to sheets to various household items.

On Friday night, the day before the yard sale, Mariamme and I went over to help organize all the donations and get everything ready to set out. Right off the bat I was assigned the task of examining and “sniffing” the sheets, blankets, towels, and other made-out-of-fabric donations. I wasn’t too thrilled about this, but I did it anyway. Most things didn’t smell worse than would be expected for a yard sale. Occasionally I came across something horrendous, usually smelling of cat pee or sweat or feet, but most of the donations were great. There was one blanket that will haunt my dreams, though. It was at the very bottom of an otherwise clean and stink-free bag. I pulled it out by the corner, just in case. It unfolded to reveal dried vomit, probably from a cat. I threw it and squealed the very stereotypical “girly scream” and backed up against the wall. The woman, Carolyn, who donated her yard for the sale and Mariamme both looked over, saw the vomit, and squealed along with me. Now, we’re not a very squealy bunch, unless there’s something with thousands of legs skittering around our feet. Carolyn said “Yeah, we’re throwing that one away.” I squished myself to the wall more and said “I don’t want to touch it again!” She came over and wrapped it in the plastic garbage bag and carried it over to her trash can. We had to ask, though, who would donate something covered in vomit (pet vomit or otherwise) to a fund-raising yard sale? I can only hope they didn’t know it was there, though I’m not sure how they could have missed it.

That was the most disgusting find of the night, but there were a couple of interesting ones. Someone donated a green leather jacket that looked like either a bad biker’s jacket with a weird dye-job or something from a Michael Jackson music video. Of course, I couldn’t resist trying it on. It looked pretty unworn, so I figured it was probably safe. It fit me pretty well, but I don’t think I’d have any use for a green leather biker-meets-Michael-Jackson jacket.

Someone donated a pair of silver-sequined shorts that, I’ll admit, I was very tempted to buy. I resisted, though. The last thing I need is silver-sequined shorts. For one, I don’t wear shorts, and for two, I don’t think I’d ever wear any pants or shorts that were covered in sequins. But then again, styles do change. They could come in handy some day in the hopefully very distant future.

Mariamme and I left Carolyn’s house around 10:00. We got to her house around 7:30 the next morning to help set up all the stuff. The yard sale wasn’t supposed to start until 8:00, but when we got there her driveway and garage were packed with yard-salers. We asked her and one of TPTB from the shelter how early people started coming, and they told us the first person showed up around 6:45.

Mariamme and I got to work unloading items from the shelter van. Apparently someone who works with Pier 1, maybe at a warehouse or something, donated a whole bunch of stuff. We had one of those mini-storage-places full of donated Pier 1 goodies. Mariamme and I unloaded the truck and watched the stuff get snatched up within a few minutes. We thought that was the end of it and whoever came later was just out of luck and missed the really great stuff, but another van-load came that we unpacked and set out. The second batch disappeared really quickly as well. Unfortunately we had to leave before the third truck load arrived. We had signed up to lead an adoption fair and had to grab a quick lunch and head over to pick up the dogs.

We ended up bringing Zed, a lab/retriever/pit mix, and Tess, a shepherd mix. They were great dogs to have. Zed is a little shy, so he likes to sit quietly near you or flop himself across your lap. Tess was happy to be sitting next to you, greeting the people, barking at the dogs, or laying in the shade. She tended to get worked up when a dog walked by that didn’t come close enough for her to sniff, but she was easily calmed down.

Tess is a smart girl. She already knew how to sit for a treat. I managed to teach her “lay down” and “shake” within a three hour period. Mariamme managed to teach Zed “lay down” and he could’ve learned shake if he hadn’t been startled by every car that passed.

We didn’t get many donations and no one got adopted. Tess got seriously considered, but the woman decided to go home and think it over for a day or so. Hopefully she’ll decide that she really loves Tess and wants to adopt her.

Overall the day went pretty well. We gave attention to needy dogs, taught them some tricks that may help them get adopted, and spread the word about the shelter. We corrected a lot of misconceptions. Everyone always asks us how long we keep the dogs at the shelter, and they’re always surprised when we say “We try to keep them as long as it takes to find them homes.” We always hear “Oh, so you don’t just keep them three days and then euthanize them?” That’s the popular stereotype. True, a lot of county shelter are horrible places for dogs and cats to end up, but our shelter isn’t like that. I wish more people knew that not all shelters are the same. I want people to realize this. A lot of people are afraid to go to animal shelters because they think they’ll be dark and dirty places, filled with suffering and death. If we can just teach more people that not all shelters will be depressing or frightening I’m positive we’ll be able to find more homes for pets.

Zed, cautiously accepting a treat

Zed, cautiously accepting a treat

Sweet sad Tess, patiently awaiting her new family to come and find her

Sweet sad Tess, patiently awaiting her new family to come and find her