For the Love of Shelter Dogs*

A Rainy Saturday & A Nice Sunday
March 30, 2009, 12:42 pm
Filed under: Adoptions, General

It rained all day Saturday, so I only made it to the shelter for two hours. It was a pretty good two hours though; I helped some people take out dogs and I helped them adopt a couple dogs.

I was helping one couple out in the back exercise pens when a little terrier came running up outside the shelter fence. He was very cute, and very friendly. He had on a dirty yellow collar and a tie-out cable that looked like it had snapped. He hung around long enough for me to feed my extra leash through the chain-link fence and lasso him. I asked the woman to go get a guy with a Staff shirt on, so she did. The employee came out and gave me the weirdest look, like “How in the world…?” but he went out through the locked back gate and retrieved the terrier. The dog seemed very happy to see a person coming up to him. The employee brought the dog back down to intake, where I hope he’ll be processed and either returned to his owner or put up in adoptions. Someone will definitely want him. He looks like a Chihuahua mixed with some sort of wire-haired terrier. Very cute, and very sweet.

I went on Sunday with Caroline and her mom. We only stayed for 2 1/2 hours, but it was fun. We pulled up just in time to see Oliver, one of my long-time-favorite dogs, getting adopted. He was in one of the front pens with his adopters, and he was doing great. He wasn’t getting worked up and he was playing and sitting and following their commands. It was beautiful. He was one of my project dogs because of his tendencies to nip when he got excited, but he learned pretty fast that humans don’t like to be nipped, whether it’s excited-nipping or not. He’d been at the shelter since August because he was so big and strong and playful. People interpreted his playfulness and craziness, so no one wanted to take him out. I actually renamed him when he came in. They’d given him the name Costello, but it was such a mouthful that I wanted to give him a new name. I chose Oliver because one of the first times I had him out he picked up a water bowl and carried it over to me and reminded me of Oliver Twist, begging for more. He was such a sweetie. I’m so thrilled he finally found a home.

I helped a woman introduce her two little Chihuahua/Pomeranian mixes to a Boxer/Pit mix. Sandy, the Boxer mix, is aggressive toward bigger dogs, but she seemed to love the little ones. The little male wasn’t too sure about her though. The woman and her husband ended up adopting Sandy anyway, and I hope everything works out and the little ChiPom doesn’t try to boss her around too much!

Caroline and I didnt’ get much time to take out the dogs we wanted to. There were so many people at the shelter because it was finally warm and nice and sunny, so we spent quite a bit of time helping people. That was good, though, because we helped many dogs get adopted. It was a pretty good weekend.

And Congratulations to Ollie for finally finding a home! If his new owner emails me an update, I’ll post it here!

Oliver Posing

Oliver Posing


6 Hours, and an Adoption Fair!
March 23, 2009, 12:44 pm
Filed under: Adoption Fair, Adoptions, General

Well, it was a very packed weekend! On Saturday, Caroline, her mom, and I were at the shelter volunteering for 6 hours straight – the max we could possibly get in one day! It’s been almost a year since we’ve been able to pull off being there 6 hours; usually one or more of us has a prior commitment and we can’t stay longer than 4 hours. But this time everything worked out and we were able to be there to walk dogs and help people.

We took out a shepherd mix named Tammy as soon as we got there. I’d met her Thursday and worked with her Friday, and was anxious for Caroline to meet her too. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. She just came up to adoptions and she was so cute I couldn’t resist walking her, but when I took her out she started screeching and screaming like something was wrong with her. I did a once-over on her to see if she hurt something or had a cut or injury or something, but nothing was wrong. I tried to comfort her, thinking maybe she was just panicky from being at the shelter, but that didn’t work. I tried correcting her to tell her that screeching was bad (no one is likely to adopt a screeching dog) but that made her worse. Caroline couldn’t figure anything out either. We asked one of the shelter’s managers and a vet tech, and they watched her for a little bit and then tried petting her and calming her. Apparently she didn’t act so panicked back in intake, but she was very vocal about everything. They decided to take her out of the adoption rooms and try to find out if something is wrong with her. Hopefully they’ll find something that they can fix, and then she can come back! She’s a really sweet little girl, if she stays still long enough!

After Tammy went back to intake, we helped take pictures for the shelter’s website. The photographer always needs people to hold the dogs still for her. We helped her take pictures for half an hour, then she had to leave and we went back to helping people and walking dogs.

We had out one dog (I don’t remember exactly who!) when a woman came up to the gate and looked at us like she needed to ask us something. We went over and asked if she needed help.
“Well, my daughter told me not to come here,” she said. “I have a depression problem, and she told me I wouldn’t be able to handle it, but I just lost my pound puppy and I want to give another one a home.”
“Well, if you tell us what you’re looking for,” I said, “We can find a dog that fits your description and bring it out here to you.”
“Okay, I’m looking for a big dog, because I hear that big dogs don’t get adopted as quickly or as often as little dogs. I also really love boxers.” Caroline and I thought for a minute, then remembered the Akita mix named Zeus. He’s 7 months old and already the size of a German Shepherd.We suggested him, and she wanted us to go get him. We didn’t know he was only 7 months old, though, and the 7 month old pups aren’t allowed on the grass, so we couldn’t bring him out. We went  out and told her, and she said she’d just come in. Caroline and I waited while she signed into the visitor book in the lobby, and we could tell she was nervous. She told us (jokingly, of course) to drag her outside and call her daughter if she started crying or she fainted, and this put Caroline and I on edge. We’d never had to help someone who wasn’t sure they’d make it out and still be conscious.

We walked her back to the middle row of Dog Adoption 2 to see Sandy, a little Boxer mix. We took Sandy out and she completely ignored the woman, for the most part. We put Sandy back in and walked the woman all throughout both Adoption rooms. We watched her closely to make sure she wasn’t breaking down. She stopped quite a few cages and talked to the dogs inside, but she didn’t want to take anyone else out. She thanked us and left. Helping her was surprisingly nerve-racking, but I’m glad we were able to walk her through the rooms and help her be able to handle it.

Towards the end of the day, around 5:30, Caroline and I took Zeus the huge Akita mix puppy out back. No one was out there, so we closed one of the back gates and let him loose. He had more room to run, but he still made his way back to the smaller exercise pen. We called him out and grabbed a tennis ball and played monkey-in-the-middle with him. It was really cute, and he got a lot of exercise!

On Sunday, Caroline’s mom led the adoption fair at PetSmart. We helped, of course. There was another volunteer there too, to give us a total of four people to hold dogs. We brought three dogs so one person would be free to clean up messes and hand out donation slips. We brought Max, an Australian Cattle Dog/Boxer mix who is still 8 months old and has been at the shelter since November; Pup-Pup, a sweet Corgi mix with bright blue eyes, 4 years old, and was surrendered to the shelter because her owners were allergic to he; and Spud, a Border Collie mix, a little over 1 year old, and has been at the shelter since August. No one got adopted, but we got a bunch of donations.

Caroline and I spent the entire adoption fair with a dog in our laps. And I mean the entire dog. Pup-Pup really liked sitting in Caroline’s lap, and Max enjoyed mine. Max is pretty big for a lap dog, so it wasn’t the most comfortable situation, but he was just too cute to move! One family seemed really interested in Pup-Pup, but they couldn’t adopt her that day. They took her I.D. number, so hopefully they’ll come back to get her!

A few dogs were adopted over the weekend, including little Lulla Belle. She’s a sweet shepherd mix who had Heartworms when she came to the shelter. She was treated, and that increased her adoption fee from $95 to over $100. It’s not too big of an increase, but it’s enough to put people off. She finally found a home with a nice family, where she’ll be loved!

Lil Bear, TomTom, & Dallas
March 16, 2009, 12:41 pm
Filed under: General

It rained here all weekend, so I only got to the shelter for two hours on Saturday. It was enough to meet some new dogs though! As we walked the aisles, we noticed some new faces, some old faces, and some long-timer faces.

We took out Lil Bear first. He’s a black, white, and brown Aussie mix. He’s a sweet sweet boy, but whoever owned him before over-fed him a bit. He’s not terribly overweight if you feel his sides (you can still feel the ribs, you just can’t see them), but if you just look at him he really does look like a little bear! He’s a chunky little boy. We had him out for a while and spent some time loving on him, and he’s a real sweet boy. It was raining pretty hard, or I would’ve brought my camera and taken pictures. I’m hoping to get to the shelter tomorrow (Tuesday) with my camera (it’s supposed to stop raining later today!) so I’ll try to post pictures on Wednesday.

After Lil Bear we took out Tom-Tom. As we walked by his cage and noticed his name, both of us stopped and looked at each other and said “Not another Tom!” There was a Tom at the shelter over a year ago (a shepherd mix), and we were remembering him. We absolutely loved the first Tom (I called him TomTom). He was energetic, kind of crazy, and loved us (in a not-so-polite way). We always tend to adopt the crazy cases, so we decided to try to teach Tom to not jump and not “love” us or other customers. We succeeded in teaching him to ‘sit’ but he was a stubborn boy and kept trying to jump. He was also a lap dog! If we sat down in a chair, he’d come over and jump into our laps and relax. It was really sweet. After a few months at the shelter, he became kennel-stressed, and started acting aggressive toward other dogs. He’d go nuts if they walked by his cage, and he’d spin around and bark and whine and yelp like he was hurt. All of us volunteer tried to get him out as often as possible, but we were only there so often, and he spent most of his time in the cage. I had a breakthrough with him about a week before he was euthanized. We were out in the front pen and another volunteer walked a dog up to say hi. Tom ran over to the fence, and I followed him. I’d started watching the Dog Whisperer recently, so I tried to be calm-assertive and own the fence. I didn’t know if it was working or not. Tom started getting worked up, and I tapped between his ribs and his back leg with my foot. He jumped and looked at me, then looked calmly back to the other dog. I was amazed. It worked! The other volunteer and I spent a few minutes talking while Tom sniffed his new friend, then I took him back inside. I was so excited. Unfortunately, the shelter just couldn’t keep him any longer (it had been almost a year since he’d come to the shelter) and the next weekend he was euthanized. I could feel it coming. Every time I saw an employee walking the aisles that I didn’t usually see, I’d follow behind him/her quietly, pretending to look at the kennel cards. I saw her go up to Tom’s cage, jot something down, and walk away. I knew that was it. I’d had him out already, so I walked by and slipped him a treat. When I went by an hour later, his kennel card, the colorful signs that adorned his cage, and Tom himself were all missing.

So when we saw this new TomTom, we were astonished. Of course, he looked almost nothing like the first Tom. He was a smaller, lab mix who looked like he may have a little pit in him, but not much. He also seemed a lot calmer than the original TomTom. We took him out (just couldn’t resist) and realized that he had pretty much the same attitude as the first Tom, minus the awkward “loviness” and kennel-stressed attitude. This TomTom is playful without being crazy and sweet without being awkward. He’s everything we wanted the first Tom to be, and everything we tried to teach him to be. So, needless to say, TomTom is a new baby (a dog that we fall in love with and take out whenever we’re at the shelter). He’s also shedding, so we spent most of our time with him brushing and scratching him. He enjoyed the attention, and I’m sure it felt good to get all that itchy hair off!

It was almost time to go and we were trying to pick who our second to last dog would be when we saw Dallas. H’s a purebred Akita, and he’s huge! We couldn’t resist taking him out. The purebred dogs we get are usually small-breed dogs, so a large-breed purebred is an opportunity we can’t pass up! We took him out back under the covered area because it was raining. The shelter recently took down a few dividers in the small kennels out back to make them bigger for customers, so we took him in one of those. It was great. We played with him for a while. He’s a mouthy boy! He doesn’t bite or nip or anything, but he likes to put his mouth around your hand or arm and just stay there. It’s strange. He tried to jump, and since he’s so huge I lifted my knee to block him. He could’ve easily knocked me over! When he ran into my knee he backed up, play bowed, and started to hop around. It was so cute! I’m pretty sure he won’t be at the shelter for long.

I’m hoping to get to the shelter tomorrow, and blog again Wednesday!

Walker, Peabody, and Lorenzo
March 4, 2009, 1:54 pm
Filed under: Adoptions, General

I only made it to the shelter for two hours yesterday after not having gone in a week. It rained and iced all weekend and finally turned into snow on Sunday. The shelter was closed Monday (so was school) and it reopened Tuesday. I went with a friend.

The dogs loved the snow! Every dog we had out romped around like it was just the best thing ever. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera so I couldn’t take any pictures. Just know, it was so cute.

We took out Walker first. He’s a hound mix (looks like a pointer, but he’s got hound in him too). Apparently, according to his card, he was found by some people and they brought him in because they couldn’t keep him. He has “CHC 00” on his side. We can’t tell if it’s been tattooed there, hair-dyed there, or just drawn there, and we don’t know what it means. He’s a sweet dog; loves to jump on your lap and get attention, likes to half-roll-over, and really likes to just be near people. He’s afraid to walk through the adoption rooms, though. I think the barking dogs freak him out. We’re doing searches on Google and Yahoo to see if we can figure out what CHC is. All I’ve found is the “Marshall Telemetry Foxhunt held at the CHC meet in Bakersfield” (the link on the page is broken, but here’s the link to the page where the link can be found). I’m not even sure what that is.

We took out Peabody next. He’s an Australian Shepherd/Smooth Collie mix. He’s so sweet, but he’s kind of nuts! He loves to play and he just loves to chase and herd things. It’s in his genes. We were playing with him (and managed to teach him to sit instead of jump when he wants attention) and we noticed his foot was bleeding. It wasn’t anything major, just a little blood, but we got a vet tech to look at it and make sure. She said he was fine. The bleeding stopped and we put him back in his cage.

We worked with Lorenzo next. Remember how he’d been improving recently? Well, that’s when I worked with him alone! He wasn’t used to having another person in the cage with us, and he got all worked up and reverted back to his jumping and nipping behavior. We leashed him and worked with him a while (tugging the leash when he’d do something wrong, relaxing tension when he’d relax, and so on) and in only a few minutes he was laying by my  side, relaxing. It was great. Of course, he got worked up while we walked back inside, but with all those barking dogs, who can blame him?

Oliver was neutered last Friday! I’m so happy. I really hope this helps ease his frustration. Hopefully now someone will want him.

I’m not sure if I’ll get to the shelter before next week. I hope I will, but between school and work, who knows? I’ll write an update if I do!

Edit: Ravi (formerly Prince) has been adopted!