For the Love of Shelter Dogs*

A Few Adoptions
May 21, 2009, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Adoptions

I wasn’t able to make it to the shelter for over a week, but I’ve been informed (via Internet) that a few of my favorite dogs have been adopted!

Craig was one one of the long-timers. He’d been at the shelter since maybe last July or August, and since he was super energetic and playful no one wanted to adopt him. He loved to run around and really enjoyed playing chase, especially when you wanted to put the leash on him. He was finally adopted last weekend!

Craig is a cute and happy Labrador Retriever mix. He is about one and a half years old, and he is nicely sized at about 25 - 30 pounds. Craig is very playful and fun. He likes to play with other dogs and he likes to meet new people. Craig will be neutered as part of his adoption fee.

Craig is a cute and happy Labrador Retriever mix. He is about one and a half years old, and he is nicely sized at about 25 - 30 pounds. Craig is very playful and fun. He likes to play with other dogs and he likes to meet new people. Craig will be neutered as part of his adoption fee.

Browny was also adopted. She’s such a sweet little girl who loves to be a lap dog. I saw her get surrendered a couple months ago because she’d just had a litter and her family couldn’t keep her (or the litter). She came in with her pups, and she finally found a home!

Browny is an adorable four year old shepherd mix. She weighs about 30 - 35 pounds. Browny is affectionate and gentle. She likes to be petted and snuggled by friendly people. Browny will be spayed as part of her adoption fee.

Browny is an adorable four year old shepherd mix. She weighs about 30 - 35 pounds. Browny is affectionate and gentle. She likes to be petted and snuggled by friendly people. Browny will be spayed as part of her adoption fee.

Darling was originally named Pucca (though I’m not sure why), but fortunately someone changed her name. She was really sweet, but I didn’t really know her until Caroline and I noticed she looked pregnant. We took her out to be sure, then called a vet tech to look at her. We really didn’t want to do this because the last dog I found that was pregnant ended up having her litter aborted (sad, but necessary because of all the dogs the shelter has). We didn’t want this to happen to Darling too, but we knew it was probably necessary. We asked the vet tech anyway, and she told us that they’d see how far along she was and how healthy she was, and then they’d make their decision. Well, Darling was missing from the adoption rooms for about a month, so I’m assuming they let her have her litter before they put her back up. Now she’s been adopted!

Darling is a pretty hound mix. She is about one and a half years old, and she weighs about 40 pounds. Darling is outgoing and likes to meet new people. She likes to go for walks and she tries to hold it until she can get out of her kennel. Darling will be spayed as part of her adoption fee.

Darling is a pretty hound mix. She is about one and a half years old, and she weighs about 40 pounds. Darling is outgoing and likes to meet new people. She likes to go for walks and she tries to 'hold it' until she can get out of her kennel. Darling will be spayed as part of her adoption fee.

Faulkner was another of my favorites, but he’s not listed online anymore. He was a big silly boy. He loved to play and loved to run around with his cagemate. He was adopted last Wednesday.

We pick up foster puppies tomorrow, if all goes according to plan. I’ll be sure to take pictures to post!


Construction, Puppy Countdown, and Adoptions
May 11, 2009, 1:46 am
Filed under: Adoptions, Foster Pups, General

The shelter is under construction! Well, not the whole shelter, just a little bit. They’ve been wanting to add a separate building where adopters can go to fill out the adoption paperwork. The lobby gets so crowded on the weekends that there is hardly ever room to move around, let alone walk dogs without risking fights, so the new building will be wonderful to have. The only problem? In order to build this building they had to tear down two of the front gravel exercise pens. Now we only have one exercise pen out in front of the shelter, and with all these dogs to walk it’s going to be difficult to juggle which dog gets to run when. But we’ve been told that they’re going to find a different place for the pens they tore down, and that we will eventually have more pens. So, we’ll have an empty lobby, a new paperwork area, and different pens. It won’t be that bad, and I’m sure all of us volunteers will be able to share that one pen nicely until they can put up the new ones.

Puppy Countdown: 14 days! Exactly two weeks until we can pick up our foster pups. I’m excited. Puppies!

The shelter is having a half-price weekend, where all pets over 1 year old are half off! We had quite a few adoptions yesterday and today, including Tonka and Tom-Tom. Tonka has been featured on my blog before (remember him?) and Tom-Tom has been one of my favorite dogs at the shelter for a couple months.



Tom-Tom, not too sure about the camera

Tom-Tom, not too sure about the camera

Hooray for new homes!

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!

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!

Lorenzo, Bella, Bella, Oliver, and Adoptions!
February 25, 2009, 1:44 pm
Filed under: Adoptions, General, Photo Day

Yesterday I brought my camera again, but the battery died within the first few minutes, so I was only able to take pictures of one of the Bellas.

I worked with Lorenzo again. He did pretty well. I was trying to get him out of the cage and one of the employees walked by and said “It’s like trying to leash a bear!” which is so true! Lorenzo is great once he’s outside, but in his cage he jumps and bites at the leash and pushes against you because he’s so impatient and just needs to go outside and relieve himself. He did really well once outside, though. I gave him a refresher course in “Sit, Shake, Lay Down” and he picked up on that quickly. The only quirk is that he’ll only shake if I offer the hand that has the kibble in it. Strange, but cute.

Bella was the next dog I took out. She’s relatively new and very cute. She’s a little bigger than the other Bella, so they’re easy to tell apart. She’s so sweet! All she wanted to do was get attention and belly rubs. She kept rolling over! Even when I tried to just pet her head she figured out a way to roll over and prop her body up on my legs. It was so cute,  but very strange looking.

I took out the other Bella next. She’s also very sweet and very submissive. She’s a little more playful though. She loves to get belly rubs, but she wants to play too! I took a couple pictures of her (and then my camera yelled at me to change the battery pack). Hopefully one of them will get accepted to iStock! I’m going to submit a few, and if they get rejected I’ll post them here. I have a folder for all of my images that have been rejected on Flickr. (

I also took out Prince (now renamed Ravi!). Ravi is Sanskrit for Sun. He’s kind of yellowey-sun colored, so I decided it fit. He’s doing a lot better. He’s come out of his shell and will come up to the door when I open it. He still cowers and shakes when I go up to him outside, but he’s getting better!

I took out Oliver (Ollie) right before I left. He’s one of my Damaged Dogs I’m trying to rehabilitate/train. He was doing really well a few weeks ago, then he had a breakdown and reverted. He’s a sweet sweet boy, but he gets himself so worked up and so frustrated he starts nipping or trying to grab my arm in his mouth. He doesn’t do it aggressively. I’ve also reported it to the staff and they know about it. They also know I’m working with him. We got him on the Neuter list for Friday, so hopefully “he’ll” be an “it” by the weekend! I think that’s a big part of his problem. Since he’s never had the opportunity to mate (he had just turned a year old when he came to the shelter as a stray) he’s got pent up frustration and urges that he can’t fulfill (as weird as it sounds, it’s true). It’s driving him crazy. So hopefully when he gets neutered, his frustration levels won’t build up any higher and I’ll be able to rehabilitate him.

Anyway, so I took Ollie out yesterday. I was kind of nervous (I usually leave bleeding from scratches after I take him out – not too much blood, but it’s still not pleasant), but I decided that it wasn’t fair for him to be stuck in the cage just because I was a little afraid. I’m not actually afraid of him. I’m afraid that if they see him go nuts, they’ll be forced to make the decision to euthanize him. He’s a good dog and deserves a chance, but if he gets used to the nipping, they may decide that his time’s up (and with good reason; the shelter can’t worry about a customer getting injured and suing).

I went into his cage with my back to him. I see other people try to leash him, and he gets worked up and starts nipping (they go at him face-first). He didn’t jump up at all on me because I didn’t acknowledge him until he was calmer (not calm-submissive, but it’s extremely difficult to achieve calm-submission inside the shelter). I slipped the leash over his head and tightened it up agaisnt his ears without looking at him. I opened the cage door and stood there facing the cage until he was calmer again. He tends to jerk my arm and drag me out of the kennel (he’ll walk pretty well on the leash after that initial jolt). Not this time! We walked side by side out to the door, where I made him sit, and then through the door and through the lobby and then outside to the pen. I had to let him stop to pee (he tries his best to hold it) and then we went (calmly!) into the cage. I let him off and we went about his business.

Ollie loves to play fetch. It’s the only way I can (safely) drain his energy at the shelter. I picked up a tennis ball (two, actually) and made him sit. I held it for a while until he wasn’t completely focused and obsessed, then I threw it. It’s taking him less and less time to unfocus himself from the ball. He raced after it, picked it up, and brought it halfway back. He never brings it all the way back. Usually I end up chasing him around, but I decided to just let him do what he wanted this time. He brought it back eventually, and I made him sit and relax before I’d throw the next one. We did this for a while, then he laid down and started chewing on the ball. Usually I don’t let him rest (he has SO much extra energy I need to drain, and I never have enough time to drain it), but I thought it would be good to just let him be. I went over to the lawn chair and sat down. I never sit down with Ollie in the cage. That makes him nervous, or something, and he gets himself worked up into his nipping phase.

He was still chewing the ball when I sat down. He looked up at me like I was a target. I sat up straight (and tried  to project calm-assertive energy) and he got up and played with the ball a while. Then he ran over and looked like he was about to jump up. I held up my hand and said “Shhht.” He sniffed my finger, then backed away.

He played a while longer, then I walked him calmly back inside. There were other dogs following us in, and while he was nuts about them, I could tug his leash and he’d turn around and not nip at me. He wasn’t socialized right as a pup, I think, and any kind of touch (petting, correction) usually makes him nervous and nippy. He did really well, and didn’t nip! I’m so proud of him.

So that’s my inspiring story for the week! I’m taking the rest of the week off (I’ve been really stressed out with my classes, so I need a break from everything and I need to sleep), but I’m hopefully going to be at the shelter Saturday and Sunday.

One last little bit of happiness: There were many good adoptions over the weekend! Nickel (a lab mix who’d been at the shelter since June) finally found a home. LadyBird (a sweet, calm hound mix) who’d been at the shelter since May got adopted. There were other great adoptions, but I’ve already made this blog too long!

Sir Corey & Sir David, Zed, and Starlight
February 9, 2009, 3:22 pm
Filed under: Adoptions, Photo Day

I took my fancy camera (Canon Rebel) to the shelter on Sunday to take more pictures for iStock. I had a model this time! I took wonderful pictures, but unfortunately I can’t upload them here because I’m waiting to hear if they’ve been accepted to the iStock database.

The first dog I photographed was Zed. He’s a sweet lab/pit mix (I’m pretty sure he’s got a little pit in him because of the way his head is shaped). He’s afraid of cameras and phones and any sort of shiny metal thing. Poor Zed. I still got a few good pictures of him. He’s such a sweetie! He loves to play and get attention, as long as the person petting him doesn’t have a camera. I wonder why he’s so afraid of them…

Sweet Zed

Sweet Zed

My next subjects were a pair of dogs – Sir Corey and Sir David. They’re really sweet. Sir Corey is a flat coated retriever mix. Sir David is a yellow lab mix. They get along pretty well, but Sir Corey tries to be dominant and Sir David doesn’t stand for it, so we can’t really let them play. Poor babies..

Sir Corey

Sir Corey

Sir David

Sir David

The next dog I photographed was Starlight. She’s a sweet shepherd mix (maybe mixed with hound?). Her paws are cracked and sore, so we had to carry her outside and lay her in the grass. We petted her and loved her (and I took her picture) and then we carried her back inside. We wrote her up for her paws and the vet techs looked at her. They’re going to fix her up.



Titus got adopted on Saturday! I was so excited. I gave his adopters my email address, so hopefully they’ll update me and let me know how he’s doing. They seemed really nice. And Titus is such a sweetie!

McLovin got adopted on Sunday. The people also seemed nice (I handed out my email and asked them for updates, too).

Kitty (shepherd mix), Bently (hound), Betty (border collie mix), and Colby (lab mix) also went home. Kitty, Betty, and Colby had been at the shelter for quite a while, so their adoptions were exciting. Bently is a loud (loud!) hound, and he’s really strong, so we didn’t think he’d find a home as quickly as he did (after a stay of about 2 months).

Overall it was a really good weekend.