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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Some Ups and Some Downs

Saturdays always start the same, the only variance is who I am going to be sanitizing the kennels with. Today it was with a guy named Jeremy. I had met him a couple of time before and knew that he was a Marine that will be deploying to Afghanistan within the next two months. It seemed that the cleaning flew by with the stories we shared about training and transitioning into civilian life. No matter how long ago anyone has been in the Marine corps it seems it is still the biggest frat in the world. It was a good start to the day getting someone's opinion on the war, politics, and why they were working at the shelter.

After cleaning I got some very disheartening news. Mandy, a one eyed dog that had been in the shelter for quite a while had been put down. I really wish I could have found out towards the end of the day just so I wouldn't have had to think about it every time I walked by the empty kennel. It's pretty simple, this is a no kill shelter, however when there are health or behavior issues and the animal is unadoptable there is the option of euthanasia. It turns out there were no medical problems with Mandy but she did show some aggression. She had started as a sweet and loving dog early on, but as time progressed the shelter environment wore her down. She began showing some signs of aggression towards other animals due to her new lack of depth perception. She was being worked with the last time I worked and always seemed very friendly towards humans. What I learned my first day back this week was that somehow she escaped from her kennel and when a volunteer walked by she attacked biting the person's leg and doing some serious damage. With that type of behavior and unpredictability there were no other options than to put her down. Really not a good way to start my day out.

After the emotions the crowd started arriving. I had almost forgotten it was Saturday and the busiest day of the week. I sat in on a few showings and tried picking up some tactful ways of asking people some pretty serious questions. One showing involved a Rat Terrier that was the sweetest dog but had been returned twice due to behavior issues. The new adopter was for warned and took at as the third time is the charm. She had a German Pointer and really wanted a smaller dog with the same energy level. It seemed like a perfect fit so our little friend hopefully found the right home this time.

Later in the day I was shadowing a showing for a kitten to two young adults that lived with their parents and about 20 other animals. On their paperwork that put the animal would be an indoor/outdoor cat. Unfortunately it is the shelter's policy not to allow kittens to live this way since they have no way of defending themselves. The staff member wanted to make sure that the people understood the question on the paper before telling them that we can't adopt to them. Of course they said they wanted what they put on the form and we informed them that we cannot adopt to them. I had almost forgot what maturity was when I saw a true lack of it. These people threw a hissyfit but we stood by our ground and apologized. It's good to see a place that stands by what they believe in rather than folding under the pressure to apease a client.

After this is was feeding time for the bottle fed kitten. This was my first time ever doing this. I held the little black 14 day old on my shoulder and put the tiny nipple in his mouth, boy was he hungry. After he finished I burped him and comforted him for a while. I was then taught how to make them go to the bathroom buy taking a cloth and rubbing those areas until it basically just falls out. Kind of an interested experience because I have never been fond of cats, but they are slowly growing on me.

During the usual aspects of the day, from doing laundry, picking up poo, and loving on some dogs, two strays had been brought in. Both were very good looking and healthy animals and one even had tags on him. We contacted the number and left a message, then of course we had to call county. The shelter is very specific about the animals it takes in. Since it is a private shelter it has the ability to do this, unfortunately the strays that do come in are transfered to county. Hopefully the owners will find their animals soon before they are adopted out.

Overall the ups and downs of this job are what make it interesting. Yes a great dog had to be put down but four more found thier forever homes. There is some hard work but the rewards are certainly fullfilling. I'm looking forward to tomorow and the Ugly Dog contest that I will be working as a representative from the Human Society.

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