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Monday, March 30, 2009

Being Short Handed Isn't So Bad

Today started with a bang, kind of. As I was putting on my dirty shoes, I noticed that there was only one other kennel worker there. It turns out that was how it was going to be today. I'm just glad it was our kennel supervisor that had the experience to know how to prioritize to make sure what needed to get done, got done.

It began with rushing all of the dogs down to their runs, always starting off with those that held it all night. During this time, it was decided that I would take care of the puppies which meant that I could not handle any possibly sick animals. Hell, I'm not complaining, I get to play with two cute little guys and get to keep my hands off of the ones with the explosive diarrhea. Just goes to show you that the team of kennel staff really cares more about the dogs than they do about how difficult their day might be.

After getting all of the dogs out into the runs, it was time to clean. With only the two of us there was definitely a feeling of urgency for the simple fact that I knew we still had the cattery and the rabbitat. After a whole lot of scooping poo, scrubbing, and rinsing out we moved on to the cattery. Thank goodness there was another employee helping out at this point and pretty much had the cattery under control. It always works best though when there is a team in there to knock it out faster. We got to changing the litter boxes and feeding when one of the cats started attacking another. We put the victim back in their kennel when the cat jumped up and tried attacking again. The attacker ended up only knocking over the litter box but it was damn near impossible to get this cat out of the kennel without getting bit. We tried food as a distraction but this cat was amped. Finally I caught her looking away and went for the scruff. Luckily I was able to grab her and put her back in her kennel. Once she calmed down she was once again a sweet loving girl who just wanted some love.

After all of the cleaning and feedings it seemed we were actually ahead of schedule. Wow, some time to relax and take advantage of a little extra time. We decided to see if we can't pair some of the dogs up and offer up some new play friends. It's always tough when these animals become so aggressive against other dogs and sometimes it is a good thing to introduce them to other dogs to show them that they are not a threat. It ended up we found the little terrier mix a good friend with a dog that just lost her brother last week. It's definitely the odd couple but it was so nice to finally see them with a smile on their faces. Sometimes it is so few and far between that when it does happen it is very special.

With only the two of us you would never know it. There were several staff members today helping out with adoptions and volunteers that truly do make a difference. Without the volunteers today would not have gone as smoothly as it did. The volunteers not only helped bring dogs out they also were able to get a few of them to the quite room in order to give them some peaceful time away from the shelter.

Of course there always is the calm before the storm. Just when I thought everything was meandering along at a slow pace I was called to an interaction. It was with this greyhound mix and a German Sheppard. It seemed the animals really got along well but the shelter dog was a little standoff-ish from the adopters. I think it was merely nerves because the guy is such a lover once you get to know him. Turns out the people loved him and decided to adopt him. Always nice to see people find the love an animal can give, both to themselves and to the big sister German Sheppard.

Finally I was able to get to some laundry. I started a load and next went to stock the cattery with some beds and towels. That was when a volunteer asked if she could feed a cat. The cats are on a strict feeding schedule but in this case it was necessary. The cat ended up flipping his litter box all over the food and the kennel. The volunteer was so nice to help clean up the mess and make sure the cat was taken care of. Once again, the volunteers play a vital role in the operations and success of this shelter. After everything was swept up I got a call on the walkie that I was needed to help with a cat intake.

The intake was a mother and her four kittens. These guys were so cute, just a month old and barely walking. The mother really seemed like a good one always keeping an eye on where her babies were at. For the intake we made sure her kittens were right next to her at all times. We weighed the mother, gave her the vaccinations, checked for fleas, and did a blood test. Once all of this was done we made sure there was a very large kennel set up for her and her babies. We stocked it full of some tuna and dry food and hopefully she will adapt quickly to her new surroundings.

With the day coming to a close it was simply busy work from this point on. Making sure all of the dogs were fed (puppies three times) and getting all of the animals out for their afternoon breaks. I started a final load of laundry and made sure the rabbits were all set for the night. After a little cleaning and taking out some trash the day was over. It was a day with a lot of anticipations and nervousness. It was good to see that we were able to adapt to being short handed and still get the job done. I didn't learn to much about dogs today but I learned that with a little determination, team work, and help from volunteers this place runs like a well oiled machine. Very good to know.

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