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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Day 1 - Jumping right in

Traditionally I have always thought of a first day at a new job as paperwork and more paperwork. Not the case today. From the moment I walked in the door at 8:30 I felt as if I was a pledge in a fraternity, along with everyone else working there. "Here is your leash, treat bag, and radio", lets get to it.

I was partnered up with a senior kennel staff and was basically expected to know the job since I had volunteered at the shelter. The first words I can remember coming out of my trainer's mouth was you picked the toughest and busiest day to start working...I soon knew what she meant.

Approaching 8:45 I was told that Saturday's are kennel disinfecting days (I thought all 40 of them?). Did I mention that these kennels were about the size of my first dorm room? The system that they have is a very fair and effective one when it comes to getting the job done. You basically move all bedding, toys, ect. out of the area, spray them down with a disinfectant then proceed to scrub the hell out of each one on your hands and knees for about two hours then rinse, spray down again with disinfectant then rinse again. My thoughts during this were pretty minimal...I am going to get buff doing this.

I do have one other thought during this time and that was Explosive Diarrhea! I have never seen anything like it. This poor shepppard basically sprayed the entire kennel and managed not to step in it. I felt horrible for the dog but he seems to be doing a lot better now. Hey, at least there was another new person there that got stuck with the task of cleaning that one up.

Moving on to bringing the dogs back from their potty breaks. Pretty uneventful exept for those animals that are reactive to other dogs and your arm almost gets pulled out of socket trying to hold them back. Those and the door dashers are always fun. I think my reflexes aren't what they used to be. After all the dogs are back in it's time for some food, not me of course, but the dogs. I always thought just shovel and go, once again I should never assume. Almost every dog here has a speacial "request" when eating. From Macie who will only eat out of a plastic bowl, to Tommy that eats so fast that you have to put his meals in giant kongs to slow him down, to Mandy who gets a special mix of dry puppy food, adult food, and a little wet food as well. I hope my memory can handle all of this. The one thing I loved about this was actually going into the kennels and bringing something good to these wonderful animals.

11 o'clock and opening time. The show begins. Just when I thought I had some time to relax the next sheet of "chores" gets shown to me. This one has everything from laundry to checking on the rabbitat and cattery. I don't think I have ever seen so much soiled laundry in my life. The laundry is an ongoing thing that needs to be checked about every hour with a sign of sheet saying who checked it.

Along with all of this, and taking out garbages, washing dog bowls, giving medications, and of course continually picking up poop there are showings going on for these wonderful animals. A showing consists of an extensive application being filled out to make sure that the animal is going to a safe and comfortable place. Once that is evaluated the adoptors are questioned a little than introduced to the adoptee. The one that I sat in on was for a cute little female rat-terrier that had been returned to the shelter twice for various reasons. Not a bad dog just a whole lot of energy. The couple loved the dog but the next step was introducing their dog to her. The shelter dog was fine but the other was a little pretentious. The couple wanted it so bad but they just didn't seem to get along. As we're doing this I hear over the radio "we have four showings waiting". Time to get back to it and push this one along. There is always something to do.

After this I was told that there was a dog that was male reactive. What that means is that when males approach the animal gets very nervous and growled. Well, since I have a beard they said I was the perfect guine pig to test this out. I just kept thinking, he can smell fear just play it cool. I say this because this dog was not little. In I walked and was greeted with a wagging tail. I amazed that this dog could have shown aggression in any sort of way, and happy he didn't bite me too. This is just another reason that I love working here, giving these loving animals the opportunity to live and love again.

When things finally slowed down, for about 10 minutes, I was shown a sheet of dogs that needed extra loving. There were animals that were stressed and uncomfortable with the shelter. I loved this part. Just to sit down and see their faces was amazing. The reward of this job is knowing that these animals are getting another chance.

I had assumed that this was a pretty lax job with a whole lot of dog loving, I assumed wrong. There is so much that goes into running a successful shelter that there is never a moment that someone isn't doing something. It's more of a choreographed dance than people working. And I have to say, I am a little soar and pretty tired but I cannot wait until tomorow.

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