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!

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Buddy, Jitter, and Carol Anne
September 4, 2009, 12:52 pm
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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!

Buddy!

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

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



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

Callahan

Callahan

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!



Puppies, and Shelter Happenings
June 5, 2009, 3:54 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Our other two foster puppies ended up getting parvo. Malia had to be put to sleep on May 28, and Keanu made it to May 30. I miss them, but I’m glad they’re not suffering.

Mariamme and I met their mother (or the dog we’re pretty sure is their mother) on June 2nd. It was my birthday, and I was thinking that morning about how, if I couldn’t still have the puppies, I’d at least like to meet their mom. I was so happy she made it up to the adoption rooms! Her name is Shea (I think I’m spelling it the way they spelled it) and she’s a 5 year old Retriever mix. She’s a short  and stout junkyard-looking dog, but she’s adorable and sweet. She likes to just sit by our feet and get petted. I really like her, and I hope she has more luck at getting adopted than last years’ foster puppies’ mom, CoCo. She was adopted a few months ago, then returned because she was too active. It’s pretty obvious that her people didn’t give her much exercise; she’s a chubby little girl. Hopefully she’ll find a permanent loving home.

Shea

Shea

Shea

Shea

We’re going to be fostering kittens in a couple weeks. Since our pups had parvo, a highly contagious disease for which their is no cure, we can’t foster any puppies for another year. Kittens can’t get doggy-parvo. I’ll post pictures when we get the kitties!

Construction is coming along nicely on the new building. Well, they haven’t actually brought the building in yet, but they’re working on clearing the land and leveling the land. It took forever for the necessary parties to agree on where to put the building. Where the shelter wanted it, the county said no. Where one group of TPTB wanted it, another group didn’t. Everyone finally settled on a nice place that isn’t too close to anything, but close enough that it won’t be a ridiculous walk for people. And it’s not going to be a paperwork building anymore; now it’s going to be offices for staff. Many of the shelter staff members have lost offices due to overcrowding. One woman gave up her office so there could be one more cat adoption room. All of the staff sacrifice a lot to help the animals, so it’s only fair that they have their own offices.

They’ve promise us volunteers that after the building is in and as soon as they have the time/funds, they’ll put the extra front pens back up. I can’t wait!

I’ve been watching a lot of Dogtown lately, and I’ve noticed that every time they get in a medical case, the narrator always says something along the lines of “If this dog had been taken to a regular animal shelter, he/she would have been euthanized almost immediately. But here at Best Friends…” This is starting to annoy me. At first it didn’t, because a lot of animal shelters don’t spend money on the trauma or medical cases. But after a while, their stereotyping of all animal shelters has started to irk me. Our shelter isn’t anything like the animal shelters that keep dogs for three days and then euthanize them. We keep dogs in intake for three days, then do a medical evaluation, assess any issues/behavioral problems they may have, and then put them up for adoption if there’s nothing too serious. If there is something serious, like heartworm, we treat it.

Being a county animal shelter, we have to take in whatever is brought to us. Animal Control, the police, and citizens all bring in strays they find, and owners will bring in their pets if they can no longer keep/no longer wish to keep them. We treat what we can, but unfortunately we must humanely euthanize the rest. We treat more than most shelters, though. Take Cindy, a beagle mix, for example. She was found by a lady after she was thrown out of her owner’s car onto the road. The woman picked her up and brought her to us. Cindy had a  broken back and many other medical issues. The woman paid for Cindy’s major surgery (which cost $4000), and the shelter paid for the rest (which ended up being about $2000). Cindy recovered well and was put up for adoption. She lasted only about a day before someone took her home. Now she’s happy, loved, and healthy. We help dogs with broken limbs, gunshot wounds, and various other issues. So the stereotype of “No shelters spend money on a dog’s/cat’s/creature’s medical problems” now annoys me.

I’m not criticising Dogtown. I’m criticising whoever wrote what the narrator says. Dogtown is a wonderful place because of what it does for the animals. Their education program is great, their rescue program is fantastic, and they are very committed to the dogs. I’m hoping to visit there someday.

This Saturday is going to be full of shelter related activities: yard sale in the morning and adoption fair in the afternoon. I’ll let you know how it goes! Hopefully we’ll get both dogs adopted out. We’re bringing Zed, a lab/pit mix, and Tess, an adorable shepherd mix. They’ve both been at the shelter a long time, and we’re all really hoping they’ll be able to find a great forever home.