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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wow, there are a lot of dogs in our care

I got to work a little earlier than usual today and was able to pick and choose what my morning cleaning duty would be. Luckily I am still assigned to dogs because in all honesty I am not the biggest fan of cleaning up after the cats. It's not that I don't like my feline friends it's just not that much fun to scoop a bunch of litter with animals that are literally scattered across rooms at the shelter. Now the downfall right now of not cleaning cats is cleaning the 40 or so dogs that are in our care. I know that it is really nice to be full but you kind of forget how much work each dog is every day. Taking them down to their yards is a task in itself let alone feeding and cleaning up after them.

Once I got my last dog up after changing their bedding, getting some food down, and giving them some fresh water it was already opening time. It was surprising for a Monday but there were already customers walking in the doors, not to mention about 20 campers that hang out in the education center for the week learning about animals and the services we provide here at the shelter. It's nice to have a full house except when I want some peace and quite in the bathroom and I have 20 kids pounding on the door seeing if there is someone in there.

From the get go there were showings. I noticed the first one coming down to the yards just about ten minutes after we opened. I was surprised because we were still cleaning out the yards and taking care of the poop buckets when I saw the family come down with an adoption counselor. It was a surprise only because usually Monday's are pretty nonchalant and we are able to take care of all of the cleaning without too many distractions. I guess since it is summer now all the kids are at home and a good way to get out of the house is to go down to the local shelter to look for a new pet. I personally think that it is the best time for families to get a new animal for the simple fact that people tend to have the most time to handle the new situation and train the animal while they are at home. Hopefully this holds true and we can have a ton of adoptions these next few months.

For a Monday it really did fly by today. I did have a few showings with one standing out. It was with a little terrier mix named CiCi. She was super sweet and loving in the showing and the woman absolutely adored her but we still had to do a showing with her male Maltese. The initial intro went well with some butt sniffs and walking together so we decided to put them in a yard together. Overall they were just ignoring each other and marking all over the place. There didn't seem to be any guarding which was good but then CiCi the female mutt decided she was going to hump the little guy for the rest of the showing. Whether he was running after a toy or trying to jump up in a chair, there she was humping away. It was really unfortunate to see, especially when he tried humping her and she immediately attacked him. That was when I said the showing was over. The sad part was the woman absolutely loved CiCi but when you got her with the Maltese it was a completely different dog. Not sure if it was the Napoleon complex or what but such a dominant female might need to be an only dog.

Moving on there were more and more showings being called over the radio. There were a few adoptions but my concern seemed to be making sure that everything got done. Of course the laundry was close to being caught up when at the same time both the dryer and the washer seemed to be down. Luckily I was able to find the breaker to reset the washer and the dryer I had to crawl into the lint trap to find the "mysterious" reset button that is hidden behind a screen and under a screwed down metal box. I thought it was hot today until I got underneath there, I literally came out covered head to toe in lint and it stuck to me well since I was sweating so badly. Hey, at least it was working and no piles and piles of laundry were flowing out the door.

No matter what you do in a day here at the shelter you can always go home and say that it was a good one when there is an adoption. I can rightfully say today was a good day not only for that reason but because our little friend Harry the sick puppy continues to improve. You can really see it in his face when you walk up to his kennel and rather than him not moving he runs up to the front to greet you with a big smile on his face and his entire rear end wagging back and forth. I am not going to lie, like any other job there are things that I don't like about this place and decisions I don't agree with, but there is no other job like it out there. It's funny when you don't even think about what you get paid because the reward comes in so many different ways.

I do have to add a small picture for everyone. This is the caterpillar one of our staff decided to save because he was right near a nest of birds. She even knew what type of butterfly he was going to become. No matter what type of living thing is out there, the compassion the people here have is truly a unique characteristic I look up to. Thanks for reading everyone and I look forward to your comments.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Back to it

I tip toed into work today for one very big reason, I didn't know the update on my little puppy friend Harry. When I asked about him I have to say I was pretty tense with my fingers crossed, that's when the news came. I couldn't believe my ears buy Harry's temperature had dropped to 100 and he seemed to be doing extremely better minus the upper respiratory infection plus the confirmations that the little guy has ehrlichia. Just so you know what the tick borne disease is all about here is the explanation of it from

Ehrlichiosis can have three phases. Signs of the acute phase of the disease usually develop 1-3 weeks after the bite of the infected tick. The acute phase of the disease generally lasts 2-4 weeks. The Ehrlichia enter white blood cells and reproduce inside of them. In addition to the blood, these cells are found in the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and bone marrow. Platelets, the small cell fragments that help blood to clot, are often destroyed, as well. As a result of the infection, the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen are often enlarged. Anemia, fever, depression, lethargy, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, joint pain and stiffness, and bruises are often seen. Many dogs will be able to fight off the infection. If not, they enter the subclinical phase.

In the subclinical phase the animal may appear normal or show only slight anemia. During this phase the Ehrlichia live inside the spleen. This phase can last for months or years. Ultimately, the dog either eliminates the Ehrlichia from the body or the infection may progress to the chronic phase.

The chronic phase can be either mild or severe. Weight loss, anemia, neurological signs, bleeding, inflammation of the eye, edema (fluid accumulation) in the hind legs, and fever may be seen. Blood tests show that one or all of the different blood cell types are decreased. One cell type, the lymphocyte may increase and be abnormal in appearance. This can sometimes be confused with certain types of leukemia. If a dog becomes chronically infected, the disease can keep coming back, especially during periods of stress. In some cases, arthritis or a kidney disease called 'glomerluonephritis' may develop.

A decrease in the number of platelets (platelets help the blood clot) in the blood is the most common laboratory finding in all phases of the disease. Changes in the protein levels in the blood are common. The most common protein, albumin, is decreased and other types of protein called 'globulins' are increased.

Since one tick could be infected with and transmit more than one disease (e.g.; haemobartonellosis or babesiosis), it is not all that uncommon to see a dog infected with more than one of these diseases at a time, which generally causes more severe symptoms.

Now I know that it looks pretty serious but we think that we caught it pretty early and have been treating him with a massive dose of antibiotics so hopefully he won't progress any farther. All I know is he was up and about with what seems like the closest thing to a smile a dog could have.

After the good news it was time to get to cleaning. I was amazed to walk through the shelter and actually see how many dogs we had ready for adoption. When I had written last we had just gotten in ten dogs from another county shelter and when I came in today there were about ten more in addition to those. Apparently there were a lot of owner relinquishment while I was off. I know we will find homes for these animals quickly but it is a very sad thing to know that so many animals are having to be given up for economic reasons.

After cleaning it was time to take care of all the necessary tasks from garbage, to dishes, and just a small of amount of laundry that was dirty since everything had pretty much been washed. Once everything was caught up the showings started rolling in. I unfortunately really didn't have any to do though since I first helped out the front desk which was a little short handed. I was amazed at how hectic it can get up there with people and how annoying they can be. Anyways, after a few minutes of that I was ready to get back to picking up poo.

I did get my first and only showing later in the day. It was actually with one of our own staff members. It went fine but there were a few concerns one being that the dog would left alone for eight hours or more a day. It's an issue that needs to be addressed and my total cop out was saying "everything looks good, the time alone might be an issue but management will still have to take a look and have the final say".

While I was busy with the daily do's there were showings left and right. I was happy to see some long term cats go home as well as a few dogs. In fact I was called over the radio to help grab a couple of cats that were going home. I got the kennels and said my goodbyes to the felines and while I was walking out here comes an 80 pound dog running around the corner with no one in sight chasing him. Luckily there was another staff member next to me who was able to handle the problem and sure enough here comes a volunteer strolling behind trying to untangle a leash with what seemed like not a care in the world. I know that volunteers are a huge part in this shelter and I truly appreciate all of them but you have to be aware that it is a danger to have the dog running loose and you need to make people aware rather than keeping it to yourself. I also think that you probably shouldn't wear flip flops with three inch soles either, just a thought.

Overall it was a great day today with so many animals being adopted and the health of my favorite little puppy looking on the up and up. As with any day there are those moments that you hold your breath and wait for the outcome but luckily they all turned out our way today. I want to thank everyone for reading and posting their comments and remember, there are so many ways you can help out these animals in your community from volunteering to donating.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Some good call backs

I'm going to keep it pretty short today and skip all of the nonsense about me cleaning. I'll move right on to my task of helping our our little distemper puppy Harry. Each day only one person is assigned to the cute little guy and therefore can't handle any of the other dogs for fear of contamination. I have to say that the time I wasn't cleaning, doing laundry, or handling some showings I was laying on a blanket in the isolation yard with the sweetest little puppy that would just curl up right next to you for some comfort. He is still eating but his fever is still fluctuating with a range from about 103 degrees to close to 105.

If everything goes perfectly we will keep his fever under extreme temps and try to keep him from any permanent damage. Our vet staff is continuing his fluids every day along with antibiotics and a non steroidal anti-inflammatory injection. Hopefully he is strong enough to battle on because I really don't want to get a call on my day off to come up to the shelter to say my goodbyes. In this case no news is good news. Here is a pic of the little guy curled up on my lap just so you can get an idea of how special he really is.

Just because I couldn't handle any dogs doesn't mean that I couldn't get them adopted. The woman that I had shown Ellie Mae to a few days ago came back in with her dog Lucas who was a beautiful greyhound mix she had adopted from the shelter about five years ago. Initially she wanted to think about the adoption and it turns out she felt that it was a perfect fit. We did another introduction with the two dogs and saw that they were getting along fine so it was a go. I am always glad to see an animal here go home to a wonderful family but I am even happier knowing that the adopter has thoroughly thought about this big decision and it ends up working better both for the animals and the owners.

Later I was called over the P.A. system that I had a phone call holding for me. Usually I am a little skeptical when I hear that but I had a good feeling especially after the showings I had the previous days. It turns out it was the couple that was looking at our dear cat Libby who has been here going on seven months. The family decided that she was a perfect fit but wouldn't be able to get her until Saturday. Usually we steer away from adopting over the phone but since this was such a special case we decided to adopter her out and the new family can pick her up this weekend. It was great news and everyone was happy to hear the news.

The rest of the day paled in comparison to the adoptions that preceded. I had one other showing with some adorable kittens but the family had a tough time making up their mind. All I know is we had some great animals find their forever homes today and I also got to spend some unbelievable time with a very dear puppy. I will keep everyone updated on the sweet little guy and I hope everyone says a little prayer for the guy because he needs all the help he can get.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Seemed like it took forever

Today was one of those days that just about every task I did seemed like it took up hours of the day when in reality only a few minutes had passed by. It started with the cleaning of the cats. Once I started cleaning I realized that I had left my phone at home which doubles as my watch. The problem is when I don't know what time it is I have this idea that it is actually later than it really is.

Anyways, I cleaned the North cattery and moved onto the kittens who were not allowed food for the last twelve hours due to their surgery that was coming up this afternoon. I was actually surprised at how smoothly the cleaning went. There were a few issues with having to round up some kittens that liked to hide in the most random places but overall the task was pretty easy. Once I took care of the assigned cats I moved into the isolation unit which housed a cat that was relinquished this past week. He is a sweet cat buy has some really odd numbers when it came to his blood. We'll find out more from the vet today on treatment.

Somehow I thought it was already opening time when I finished up with the cats when in reality there was still like 45 minutes before the doors opened. I figured either I was really on top of things or I was just doing a half ass job, in any case I moved on and took care of the dishes and a load of laundry before the clock struck eleven (at least I think). I was able to sneak out of taking out the garbage by occupying myself in the kitchen but the staff member that did take out the trash had the right idea, just pile it up. I say this because yesterday I loaded up the garbage and found that the dumpster was about a foot over capacity and needed all 140 pounds of my weight pushing down on the lids to get it locked.

Once all the morning tasks were done one of our staff members and our behavioral therapist headed out for the short drive to a county shelter to give some dogs a "second chance". It was just like our trip last week but today they were staying in town rather then trekking out for four hours in the desert. I like the fact that they have just about every staff member be part of this to give everyone the experience to know how it is done.

My first showing of the day pretty much took up the whole day, and this time I knew it was taking forever. It was with an older man and his eleven year old son. Everything on their adoption profile looked good with a few exceptions about where they would keep the dog when they were away. I went over my concerns and it turns out they are a really good home that had more questions about dogs and their behaviors than I probably had answers. Once we went over the basics it was time to check out some dogs. The father had put down that they were just looking for the right pet for their family with no specifics so it was up to me to figure out who could be a good fit for the family. It ended up being some pretty specific criteria from size to demeanor so I was able to narrow it down to a few dogs that we had here at the shelter. I was also very adamant that we are always getting in new animals so there is no need to rush and you want it to be that perfect fit.

I showed the father son duo a few dogs and moved on to our latest batch of second chance dogs where I had one more possibility left. It was a little girl named Ingrid who is the sweetest little thing that just wants to be with her humans. The only downfall with her is even though she only clocks in at about 25 pounds and a foot tall she can jump and climb a six foot fence. This was a concern that I had to really talk a lot about but if she is not being left outside it shouldn't be a problem. Anyways, the family was very nice and had a million questions for me which I like, it means that they have thought this process through and are not going to have any surprises down the road. After about an hour and a half long showing they asked what the next step would be. I informed them that everyone in the household needs to meet and that the mother/wife would have to come in and make sure that it is a good fit for everyone. They were pretty excited about this dog so the husband was able to get the wife to head up to the shelter on her lunch break (in about fifteen minutes) and ended up falling in love with Ingrid as well. They decided to adopt and were a little disappointed that she couldn't go home today but because she hasn't been spayed she will need to stay with us until the surgery is performed next week. I am really happy that the showing took a while, it lets me know that this family has their concerns and know that it is not a small commitment to have an animal, I just hope that it is the right one because there are always those fears that I have now that the animal will be returned. Just so you know what Ingrid the beagle/shepherd mix looks like I have added a picture below.

This was the exciting part of my day, the only adoption at the shelter, and the one thing that actually made the day go by a little faster. Once the showing was done it was back to everything taking forever. We were able to catch up on everything with cleaning and laundry but after we took the dogs out for their afternoon break and I started washing the dishes we ran into a small problem. In the laundry room we sprung another leak. What that meant was we had to shut off the water which made washing clothes and the pet dishes (water is all connected in this building) pretty tough. Luckily our on site maintenance guy was quick in action and was able to plug it all up in time for us to finish the laundry and wash the dishes before we had to bring the dogs back up to their kennels.

Now I didn't get a good look at all of the new faces that came in today but I do know that there are some cute ones, once they get a good scrubbing and get the odor off of them. Apparently a few of them are a little rough around the edges when it comes to behavior but that is why they are here, for us to work with them. Hopefully they will all be healthy and available for adoption as soon as possible and we are able to find them their forever homes.

On another note Harry our little puppy with possible distemper had a slightly lower fever than yesterday. Now I am not getting my hopes up because apparently that is what distemper does but the good news is it really never spiked to cause any brain damage so that, however scary it sounds, is a good sign. It was pretty awkward though seeing the little guy with a huge bulge on his shoulder making him look like the hunchback of Notre Dame. Don't worry, the vet injects fluids under his skin to try to bring the fever down, they are trying everything to make sure the little guy has the best chance at making it. Everyone keep your fingers crossed for Harry and light a candle if you have one. I'll keep you all updated as I get the news. Thanks for reading and keep the comments coming, I love to know your thoughts. And Holly, I agree that dog poo really does smell worse than any other poo :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A bit of irony to end the day

The schedule said I had dogs today, fine with me, less sneezing and I get to be outside. I do have to say that it was a pretty easy cleaning day today with the small task of moving all of the dogs to one side of the south kennels. I was informed that our behaviorist would be heading to another county shelter in the next few days to give some animals a "second chance" at our shelter.

Once I got all of the bedding, toys, and water bowls moved I got to spraying. It didn't take long at all and in fact it probably took longer to transfer the guys to their new kennels than it did to actually clean them all. After they were all squeegeed out I moved on to making their breakfasts. There was one less to make this morning since the adoption yesterday but of course I had to add one for the sweet lab that was returned to us because of some unforeseen circumstances.

Moving on, we took the garbage out and got the dishes washed but of course there was another error code with our commercial dryer so that had to be dealt with before any more laundry could back up. It was the same error code that had come up a few weeks ago so we were at least glad it wasn't anything new. The problem was to reset it you have to open up the lint trap, literally crawl in, unscrew a small metal box in the back of the machine and hit a reset button. After a gnarly shock and completely getting caked in lint I was able to reattach everything and get the machine working again.

Before I knew it we were open. I was a little disappointed that my showing from yesterday didn't come back to do an introduction but if it wasn't right it wasn't meant to be. We did have some women come in and ask to see their little Betsy which they had adopted on Saturday but wouldn't be able to go home for about another week until after she is spayed. The was uplifting to see the smiles on these women's faces when they were able to spend some time with the little black and white mutt. This little dog really does look like something out of a Disney movie, I wasn't surprised at how fast she was adopted.

Today being Monday meant it was poo bucket day. Luckily we aren't running at full capacity when it comes to dogs so there were a few yards that were still empty. We were able to knock it out rather quickly leaving the first four yards for last since we didn't want to cross contaminate anything. We loaded it all up in the wagon and headed back to the dumpster. Unfortunately it was already pretty full and once we got the enormous load of poo in the dumpster I had to climb on top in order to actually close the thing and lock it. Not so much fun.

Luckily my next task was a showing. It was with a teacher who had adopted from us a beautiful greyhound mix about five years ago and her other animal had passed after about 15 years and felt that she would always need two. Rather than her going out and looking at all of the animals she explained what she was looking for and how her dog reacts to others and wanted our suggestions. After getting a good feel for her puppy I had a few suggestions for her. The one that really stuck out to the adopter was a pointer/border collie mix from Gulf Port, Mississippi. She is just under a year, super intelligent, and loads of energy. Once she calmed down the woman really got attached to the sweet dog. It was decided it was time for an interaction. We were a little skeptical of how it was going to go since her dog can be a bit of a handful and we felt the same way about the shelter dog. After the initial intro you could tell both dogs were very nervous and on edge. We decided to walk them together to get them a little more comfortable with each other. That seemed to work pretty well, so much so that we moved them down to a yard. Surprise to us was that our little Mississippi girl was completely submissive. She wasn't uncomfortable but she would roll on her back pretty quickly. She was still curious and would continue to "investigate" the smells of the greyhound but it wasn't until about fifteen minutes into the showing did we see some great play play bows and a whole lot of running. I thought that it would be a good fit but like anything in life it would have to be monitored and of course would take some adjustment time, for both of the animals. I told the woman how big the decision was and she agreed and would sleep on it. I really do hope that she comes back though because the fact that the dogs got along so well and she is out for the summer with the time to get them acclimated makes this home a very good one for our Ellie Mae.

After the longest showing of my life I had one more to attend to. It was with a sweet cat that has a whole room to herself in the new cattery. It pretty much works on seniority since the poor girl has been here going on seven months. After I read over the adoption profile I realized that there really couldn't be a better home for cats. It turns out that they have been looking for about the past two weeks for a new feline friend since they lost their last one a month ago after 24 years. It was a real heartfelt showing with a lot of emotions and a few tears. They asked if it was ever too soon to replace a pet and of course my response was I will never go a day in my life without an animal. Once I came back into the room where I had left them with the cat they told me they absolutely loved her. I was also glad to hear that they were going to think about it. You never want people to make hastily decisions when it concerns something that could possible be a 24 year commitment. I do hope that they come back and take our long term kitty home because I truly thing that it would be a mutual benefit for the couple and little Libby the cat.

Closing out today I learned that a cute little stray had been turned in to the shelter. Unfortunately he wasn't chipped or have any tags so we had no way of finding the owner. Surprise to all of us the owner called the shelter hoping he was there and once he was identified the owner was on his way down. I the poor little dog was so frightened I had to coax him out with a trail of treats. The funny thing was, once I got him out I was told to bring him back to the medical office because the owner wanted to chip him. Now this is the kind of funny/kind of sad/kind of scary part...we decided to muzzle the dog because he was so fearful and before we could get it around him he was intent on biting one of us. Luckily our med staff is pretty experienced and like a cowboy riding a bronco she was able to wrap the muzzle around his head and get it attached. Of course the little guy was so scared that not only did he pee all over her he pooped the nastiest smelling poo I have smelled in a while. The ironic part is the person that was doing the chipping was being nice in staying late to help out and she ends up getting pooped on for the car ride home. The good part is he got his chip, he found his home, and no one got bit.

Hopefully we have some return showings tomorrow and we can get some animals into some new homes. I am not a big fan of not having any adoptions but it was good that we at least had some showings.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Some good times, some bad times

For some reason I was actually looking forward to cleaning today. Not sure if it was the set task at hand, the fact that only one of the dogs actually went to the bathroom in their kennel, or just because I got to jam to some music. Anyways, I was able to finish the south side kennels pretty quickly, I returned all of the dogs for their breakfast and went over to help out with the rabbits. That was pretty much handled but I grabbed a few carrots from the fridge to hand out some special treats.

Beginning today as my Monday was a lot different than starting my week on Saturdays. It was nice to have a slower start but there are a lot of things that I miss about working the entire weekend. Sundays can be pretty busy but there is no comparison to the flow of traffic and the number of adoptions that come through on Saturday.

After all of the morning tasks were done I was asked to help out take a little puppy's temperature. It turns out that one of the second chance dogs we brought back last week might have a case of distemper. If you're not familiar with it you really don't want to be. It is a viral infection that affects the central nervous system, respiratory, and the gastrointestinal system. The very unfortunate part is that it is usually fatal and incurable. The little guys fever was still very high but it was a good sign that it did not increase from yesterday. Hopefully he can pull through and I am also crossing my fingers that the other young dogs that came into contact with him aren't showing any signs of the disease any time soon. So keep your fingers crossed everyone because this little guy is incredibly sweet.

Once the medical stuff was done and I was washed from shoulder to fingertip I was able to spend some time with my Mississippi friend Liza. It is really amazing how different she is in her kennel compared to being out in one of the yards. She is completely different when she is running around wither her K9 friends wagging her tail and truly enjoying herself. This is reason that we are not going to be sending her home unless there is another dog there to help her come out of her shell. I just hope that we find her a match sooner than later and she can get on the road to recovery away from the stress of the shelter.

Usually around this time I am running around like the rest of the staff trying to play catch up but today everything was under control. I even had time to run to Walmart (I know, shame on me) to pick up twelve bags of kitty litter.

I was called to a showing with a little chihuahua named Moose with two gentleman that would make a perfect home for the timid little guy. They really like him but there was still the step of introducing the little Moose to their pug Stella. If everything goes accordingly tomorrow we can slap an adopted sign up on the cage, get the little guy neutered, and get him on his way home.

I did learn that a showing I had done last week with one of our long termers was back. I was afraid that they had decided against my good ole friend Lady Bird but it turns out they had actually come back twice in the time that I wasn't here and they were on there third trip back with the man's wife to meet the pretty lab mix. I brought them all down to the yard where she was hanging out for her afternoon break and I was completely surprised at how much the woman liked Lady Bird. Initially I was expecting the woman just to say "she's alright, she'll be your dog anyhow" or something like that but it turns out she was throwing the ball with her, taking kisses from her, and really seeming to enjoy her company. They all discussed it and decided that she was the dog for them. They went back to the office to take care of the paperwork and go over the details. She is all clear so she was able to go home as soon as everything was doen up front. Here is a picture of her waiting in the office to go home.

Like any day at the shelter if you over analyze things you are always going to find some good times and some not so good ones. It is always tough when you hear about animals that have some pretty serious conditions but all you can do is hope, pray, and work as hard as you can to solve the problem or make them as comfortable as possible. I hope that my little buddy we rescued last week pulls through and that no one else contracted the infection but today I am not going home and thinking about it, I have to leave it here because the more I think about it the worse I feel. Instead I am going to go home, know that a great dog got adopted today and take things one day at a time when I head back to the shelter in the morning. Thanks for reading everyone and I look forward to you comments.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Now I know!

Today is the first time I have worked on a Wednesday and it really is a little different than I am used to. It started with me volunteering to clean up after the new second chance dogs, big mistake on my part. When I actually walked out to see the dogs I saw what a little giardia and a diet change can do to dogs. I really have never seen, or smelled, such a mess in my entire life. I immediately regretted signing up for the west side kennels. I took a picture so you can get some idea of the poor stomachs of these second chance guys.

I was able to clean up all the kennels pretty quickly but I had a few setbacks while I was scooping. The best way I can explain the smell is a mix between diarrhea, urine soaked cedar chips, and split pea soup. I made it through all of the kennels and moved on to the final one with Maria the greyhound mix. When I entered I immediately gagged and had to take a quick breather before I attempted it again. I finally got it all cleaned out by disinfecting it with a sanitizer, twice, then spraying the whole thing down with bleach. Not sure if it was the initial smell or the combo with the bleach but it was the first time I have thrown up in a good two years. I'm just glad I didn't eat oatmeal this morning and there was a two liter of soda hanging out in the fridge.

Once I regained my composer I helped finish out the rabbitat and moved onto the dishes and laundry. I have to say that my first Wednesday working has been a bit of an adventure when usually I'm hanging out with my dogs enjoying the ocean breeze. I'm happy that we have a solid staff working to get all of the necissary tasks done at the shelter.

Moving on in the day we as a whole have a new system to make sure that all of our special needs animals are getting the extra attention that they need. Recently I have been assigned with my Mississippi friend Liza who we are trying to get used to human contact. We have noticed she is coming out of her shell but still has a long way to go. The crappy part is today I couldn't spen any time with her because Wednesday is surgery day and Liza was slated for a dental and would be in the vets office for the majority of the day. I'm just happy that I know my next few days off she will be worked with and I am looking forward to seeing her progress later in the week.

The day started a little slow and we as a whole had a lot of time to do some deep cleaning. I headed into the cattery where there was already another staff member hard at work. I was able to find a shop vac to finally clean out the door rails which had a plethora of everything from cat hair to food to litter. Once that was done it was time to dissenfect everything from the doors to the super dusty tops of all of the cat kennels. I am not always the biggest fan of cleaning but it was good to make the time go by and know that it actually got done.

I was told that Wednesday's usually ential a lot of showings but up until the late afternoon there had been none. Right when I thought it was going to be a no adoption day adopters started arriving. The first few that I did were more of just going over adopter profiles since they were interested in the second chance dogs that weren't being shown until Saturday. It's really just a way of weeding people out in order to make things a little less complicated when the dogs do become available. Both adopters seem like they will be a good fit for several dogs but one couple in particular stood out. They were looking at a little beagle that I had shown a woman yesterday that was a perfect fit. It is one of those situations that you feel torn, both adopters are perfect fits and since we work on the first come first served basis it all depends on who walks through the door first on Saturday. I did explain to the new family that an elderly woman who lost her beagle of 15 years had been in to look at her and fell in love. Luckily the man today said that if she wants him and is there at the same time he wouldn't feel right taking the dog home.

Unfortuanetly I didn't get any dogs adopted but while I was in a showing with another dog I learned that a family that was looking at our little guy Rex had come back to adopt. I can never say it enough but when you know that these animals are going to a good home it really does make you feel good and accomplished. We spend so much time with these animals that we truly do becom attached and only want the best for them.

Even though my stomach never got quite right today I have to say I went home with a smile on my face. I feel like we as a shelter got a lot accomplished today. I am a little sad that I am off this Saturday because I know all of the new arrivals are going to find homes very quickly. Hopefully when I go back to work there will be lots of empty kennels and some great stories about the homes that they found. Thanks for all of the comments everyone, it really does help when the tough days come around. I also hope the picture doesn't gross anyone out too bad, just trying to share every experience I have.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Now I know what real diarreah is...

When everyone arrives in the morning there is a sign up sheet for which area of the shelter you want to clean. It used to be a first come first serve thing, then it moved to a complete team cleaning, and now it is assigned either cats or dogs which both carry a little more duties. This morning I was a little behind in signing up for the duties so I ended up having to clean the new dogs as well as the ones on the east side of the kennels which ended up being a total of about 15 dogs. Not to big of a deal until I made my way over to the second chance dogs that we rescued yesterday.

When I arrived I was overwhelmed by the smell. Every single one of the kennels had both piles and piles of poo and well as pools and pools of diarrhea. There was even a kennel where one of the dogs jumped on top of his crate to poo in privacy, that was actually a little funny. Anyways, it took me a good five trips with a huge popper scooper in order to even begin to clean up the mess. Once I spayed some disinfectant and scrubbed for a while I was able to get most of the smell out. Once I got all of the food set up I was able to bring all of the dogs up. I did have to split up the two young puppies because it seemed that one had a lot worse poo than the other one. Of course as I was washing dishes I learned the reason the youngsters were so messy was because they both have coccidia, a parasite that lives in the intestinal track. It's nothing too serious but will require treatment for a while and they will have to be quarantined to their own special yards.

After the dogs were up I moved onto the rabbitat. Went pretty fast once I was in there but another staff members started to help and noticed that one of the little bunnies seemed to be underweight. She got the scale and found out that he has lost about a pound since being at the shelter which is a huge percentage of his weight. She got some special pellets and a whole bag of carrots and went at it. I have never seen an animal go after carrots like that, it was hilarious. Anyways, hopefully he'll put on some pounds because he is my favorite rabbit out of the bunch.

I had some quite time to spend with my treeing coon hound Liza and she is so hit or miss it scares me. When I get there in the morning she is wagging her tail and ready for some contact but as the day progresses it seems she gets more and more frightened. She'll eat treats out of my hand but as soon as someone walks up to the kennel she will cower and run to the back corner. I'm not sure what to do now but I do know that she loves to go down to the yards with other dogs and romp around so hopefully that will help her come out of her shell.

I was called to a showing with a family that I had seen walking around the shelter. I went over the profile and noticed that they were home most of the day but at night would keep the dog in the garage. This was a big issue because it can tend to cause some behavioral problems. The other thing I noticed on the paper was that the family had never owned a dog before. My plan of action was to curtail the question about the outside thing and find out if they really knew what the meant. The mother really had no idea the problems that could come out of it and was open to keeping the dog inside but it was something that would have to be discussed. I respected that and decided to show them the dog. It was one of our Mississippi guys who is really just an energetic kisser. The showing seemed to go well but I explained that it was a big decision and the notion of keeping the dog inside at nigh as well as during the day would need to be discussed. I am glad that the family is taking this seriously because so many families and individuals come in here not realizing the commitment that are about to emark on and end up bringing the animals back or pawning them off on someone else.

Overall it was nice to get back to the grunt work after yesterdays trip. I am glad to hear that the second chance dogs are all doing well, aside from a growler that is staff only now waiting for evaluation. I probably shouldn't have named so many after my family members or past and present dogs because if something happens I am really going to be affected. Here is a picture of a special one to me that I named after my mom, Maria. Thanks for reading everyone and I look forward to your comments and of course telling you a few more uplifting stories that a few that I have shared this past week.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Second Chance Dogs

Like I was saying yesterday, today was a bit different than any other day at the shelter. It began with me waking up at 6:30 in the morning and heading to the shelter a little over an our before the rest of the staff got there. I met our behavior therapist in the parking lot where she had already packed up a van with crates and whole bunch of donations for a county shelter that we were about to head out to.

The drive wasn't to bad at all, it took about three and half hours or so and seemed to fly by as we were discussing everything from Caesar Milan to the reasons why people need to feel dominant over their animals. After a short restroom break and a stop for 130 dollars worth of gas we turned the corner and were at our destination. It was a county shelter here in California that is usually completely overrun with animals. I have to say I went to the shelter with low expectations but the facility was better than I had imagined. It was however still very difficult to see so many animals just running around and even more crammed into a few kennels.

Once we arrived it was time for some evaluations. There are definitely some requirements for the dogs that she picks because there is no point putting a dog through the stress of this trip if it is only going to make them worse and even less adoptable. She proceeded to go to each kennel checking both age and a little background info before she would step in to each kennel to assess the dogs. One main stipulation that I had no idea about was that any dog under four could not be taken back to the shelter. I guess they had some health problems in the past with some youngsters that they are trying to avoid now.

With all of the evaluations were done we were able to narrow the search down to about a possible 15 dogs that we could take back. The only problem is that the limit is ten so some decisions are going to have to be made at this point. The behavior therapist said that I could suggest some dogs if I would like but my problem with that is then I feel responsible for the ones that aren't able to make it to our shelter. I know that sounds pretty weak but when you see all of the dogs just giving you those "help me eyes" you can't help but want to take them all home.

Once the dogs started getting narrowed down to good possibilities they were written up on our list with information about their breed, age, sex, and of course their color. It's really amazing how you can get so many dogs confused. I do understand why it happens though, there must have been like 20 chihuahua mixes running around who all looked like they could be related. As we made our way around the kennels the tally of dogs grew who were going to be coming with. They all ranged from beagles, puggles, and of course all of the chihuahua mixes. That's when I noticed two very large dogs and one was barking pretty crazy like. The thing was the other one seemed sweeter than any dog I have seen in a while. I'm not sure why but I had to point this dog out to my fellow staff member. She had noticed the dog earlier but was hesitant to enter the kennel with the other one being so protective but had calmed down a bit since we first arrived. She decided to go in and the dog seemed like she would be a good fit for the shelter. Of course it's all on me now if anything goes wrong which I am completely will to take responsibility for. I'll post a picture of the sweet girl who I named Maria in honor of my Ma.

All of the dogs had been picked, oh yeah, and our limit of ten turned into eleven since the little five pound chihuahua really doesnt count. After a little bit of paper work and getting all of the vaccinations straight it was time to load em up and head on out. Surprisingly the drive went increadibly smoothe. I was able to eat my lunch, read a book, and even discuss some world issues with the driver. There was only one instant that a few of the dogs barked when we were climbing in elevation and the poor little guys might have felt some pressure if you know what I mean. We were both amazed that when we got to the shelter around 2 and took the dogs out to their yards for their first break in their new home none of them had made a mess in their cages. Of course a few ticks had fallen off but that was about it.

Seeing all of the dogs running around was amazing! After a long break from the car ride they were paired up and put into their kennels where food, water, toys, and a warm bed awaited. Oh, and did I mention that rather than wait for intake the med staff decided to give them all their vaccinations and micro chipping today. They felt that it would be easier on the dogs and also on the med staff as well. I helped out by holding all of the animals and it seemed to go o.k., of course there were the few that took it like champs and those that squirmed and tried to bite you.

Today was a good day, it was interesting to learn how we recieve our second chance dogs and the criteria we have for making sure that they have a good chance of getting adopted. One thing that I hope for is that we have a few adoptions this weekend so that we are able to go down again on Monday to get some more dogs. I can only cross my fingers that this will happen and some of those young puppies left behind will loose those baby teeth so we can call them at least four months old.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Back and forth

It’s one of those days that you go from being happy to sad and on and on. The day was pretty typical with me signing up for the South side dogs. I have to say that it is a quick job when there are only five kennels to clean and a total of fewer than ten dogs that need to be taken care of. Once I got all of the guys fed and back in their kennels. It was nice to get done quickly and take my time with some of the dogs including my favorite little girl Liza, the treeing coon hound, that is finally coming out of her shell. I sat with her after I put her back after her break and she even walked right up to me and started eating her food which was a first as far as I know.

Luckily we had a full staff and all of the morning tasks were easily taken care of. I was able to help out a little since I had so few dogs to take care of. I went into the cattery and loaded up all of the garbage and also took care of the dogs in iso which consisted of three with kennel cough and one on bite quarantine. Of course there was always the laundry and dishes that needed to get done as well.

As I was taking care of food donations that are left out in front of the shelter I heard one of our front desk associates ask me through the window if it was alright if she opened the gate since there was a crowd forming out front. Of course I said it was all good and here came the crowd. I was completely thrown back when I saw an old blind dog being led up initially thinking she was going to the dog park when I realized it was the EBR appointment that had been scheduled. It broke my heart to see the old girl bumping into things and also the family that was waiting around to say their goodbyes. Once again I am content with not being certified in the process because I really don’t think that I could do it. Unfortunately it was my job to help and get the 120 pound body and transfer her to the freezer for later pick up. I know it sounds horrible but she went quickly and peacefully.

From sad to happy, once I did the duty I went back to the office and learned that the final puppy Jefferson had been adopted. It was with a wonderful couple that had spent a few hours with him yesterday but still needed to get rental agreement in order to adopt. Of course they were here right at opening time since we work on a first come first serve basis. They handed over the paperwork and were able to take home the little guy today. We did have to explain some of the medicine he was on for kennel cough and a little soft poop, but other than that it seems like it should be a smoothe transition.

The rest of the day was pretty usual, except for a little bit of news. Our little guy on bite quarantine was discussed by the higher ups and it was decided that his aggressive tendencies made him un-adoptable. I cannot explain the feelings that came over me. It was a cross between anger, anxiety, and utter sadness and despair. I grew so attached to the dog that I couldn’t even imagine that he was not going to be with us anymore. I thought about merely taking him when no one was looking but I really don’t have the guts for that. I did offer to foster him but that wouldn’t change the outcome and the emotional attachment then would be even worse. The only thing I could do was to make him as comfortable as possible while he is still here. I was able to get him and three others down to a big yard down low and had basically an all out play fest consisting of running, jumping, humping, and running some more. It was nice to see them all getting along so well and it took my mind off, at least for a few minutes, of the outcome that is coming in the morning.

I think because of the fuss I made I get to do something a little different tomorrow that is completely new to me. I am going to be part of the caravan that is taking the four hour trip to pick up more dogs at a less fortunate shelter. I’ll be heading out early morning and loading the guys up and hauling them back. I am curious to see the process in action and a little excited that I am going to be able to help name the little guys. Hopefully the trip will dull my mind and I can take my mind off of what is happening back at the shelter.

I want everyone to know that when an animal is put down it is never taken lightly. There is a process that covers all the checks and balances and if there is any possibility that an animal can be helped there is no hesitation in doing so. It is always an unfortunate thing when it happens but when a dog bites and continues to bite without inhibition it is a very big issue. The one comfort that I have is that it is a quick and painless process. I am just glad I’ll be on the road and not partaking in it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Behind for a reason

The title of this blog will be better explained in the last paragraph, just wanted to give you a heads up. I was tasked with the cats today since our new hire still is only trained on the dogs and the rabbits. It was pretty easy to get everything done on time and a little entertaining at the same time. I took care of one room of cats and then moved into the kittery where so many kittens assumed my legs were trees to be climbed. It was pretty funny to have five kittens literally climbing up my pant legs while the others ran around like maniacs. I tried getting a picture but they were just too fast for the shutter speed of my camera.

Once the cats and the rabbits were done it was time to haul out the garbage. It's always fun to balance a whole lot of bags on a wagon as your hauling it through the shelter. I have to say it is a good thing there is teamwork in this place otherwise it would have taken several trips to get rid of the trash. Of course after that was done we were assigned a few necessary jobs to get things in order. Myself and another attendant took care of the iso yards, kennels, and all of the crap you could possible imagine building up in a storage area for the past five years. It was good to see the difference when we were done though and hopefully it won't go back to chaos too quickly.

Now it was time to move on to the fun part of the day. Showing after showing for all sorts of animals on this busy Saturday. Unfortunately my first showing wasn't a showing at all but rather a denial. It wasn't a bad denial because the couple would have made a great home for any animal except maybe an eight week old puppy. The reason I say this is because the couple both works full time and is away daily for more than eight hours and we tend to want the youngsters not to be alone that long because some behavioral issues tend to arise. The couple was very understanding and appreciated the time and having their questions answered.

My next showing was with a puppy once again. Everything looked good on the application except for one little detail. The couple was renting and the weight restrictions on animals was stated as being 50 pounds. It's not a huge problem but the only thing we know about these puppies is that their mom is about 40 pounds and they are very good sized for eight weeks old. I explained the issue and they understood but we decided to go ahead with the showing anyhow. The immediately fell in love with the little guy and his temperament but were concerned about their lease agreement. Luckily they have an understanding landlord and I was able to speak with them over the phone and explain the situation and the possibility of have a very large dog on their hands. The landlord explained it was more for specific breed restrictions than weight and confirmed that they could adopt even if the dog ended up 60 or 70 pounds. After a little bit of paper work the puppy was on his way and the couple was happy they did everything by the book.

There were a few other showings later in the afternoon with one of them ending great and the other having a really crappy finish. One showing was with one of my favorite little Mississippi dogs who is a sweet little brindle girl that looks nothing like a hound dog until you hear her bark. I wasn't in the showing but apparently it went great and the little girl got to go home this afternoon. The bad showing was pretty bad, it was with a four month old puppy that has been here for quite a while. Everything was going well until the dog started getting to aggressive and ended up biting the adoption counselor several times on the hand. What this means is another one of our little guys is on bite quarantine for the week.

Overall it was a good day. We got a lot done in the area of cleaning and organizing and also got some great animals adopted. It's amazing sometimes how the shelter seams so empty with so many adoptions but we will be getting in another ten this Monday. Hopefully the long term animals will find homes soon as well because there are a few of them that have been here far too long. If you want to read what happen last week in the blog I skipped continue reading below, it is a little sad so be fore warned, that was the reason I skipped it last week, I needed a little time before I relived it through this blog. Thanks for reading and keep the comments rolling.

For those of you who actually follow this blog you might have noticed that I skipped a day last week. It wasn't laziness I promise, it was more not wanting to deal with it and me trying to get over it as quickly as possible. The reason I skipped a day last week is simple, it was a very tough and difficult day to deal with so rather than live through it again immediately following it I decided to post pone it until today when I could be a little bit more composed. I am not going to go into to much detail about that day except for the fact that a dog that I had adopted out was returned because he had bitten someone unprovoked. It was a horrible thing to have happen because not only did he do this but he can also jump fences which makes him a real threat. After his bit quarantine and evaluation it was decided that he was not adoptable and that he would be put down. It is such a horrible thing to experience especially because one grows so attached to these animals. Because I was so attached I decided to hold my old friend in his last few moments. I cried as usual (not something normal for a former Marine) and talked to him the whole time. He went very quickly but it was incredibly hard for me to experience.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Some good news

There are always those days that you think there possibly can't be anything else that needs to get done but of course something always comes up. It seemed like today was one of those days. It began with some surprisingly good news (it's amazing what we get excited about), most of the dogs in the shelter had some solid poop last night. It might not seem that important but when you have parasites floating around and you have been constantly treating the guys for oatmeal like diarrhea it is a nice surprise to finally see them clearing it out of their system.

I cleaned the south yard and for some reason wanted to put my little treeing coon hound friend in with another dog just because she has been so scared and stand offish the entire time she has been at the shelter I figured it couldn't hurt. Once all of the dogs were in there yards it was time to clean. I finished up rather quickly and when i went back to bring the dogs out I was amazed to see my introverted dog wagging her tail with as close to a smile as you can imagine. She even jumped up on me and gave me a few kisses. I couldn't believe that this was the same dog as even yesterday who would barely eat in front of me let alone come up to me. It was a great way to start off my day and I can only hope that she continues to come out of her shell. Below is a short clip of her playing in the yard. You can barely tell that this dog is completely fearful of humans.

After all the morning chores were done it was time to get to work on the poop buckets. Weekly cleaning duties are always fun but when you team up to do them you can knock them out rather quickly. I'm just glad the dumpster wasn't overflowing this time and we actually had room to throw away a whole bunch of poo. Once that was done it was on to the laundry room. Since we have had our washer out of commission for a while we decided to thin out our inventory of not so great towels and blankets. It was good to see the massive pile of dirty laundry whittled down to a few loads.

Not too many showings today but there was an early into with one of the sheppard puppies. I'm guessing it went rather well since another staff member came back with an adopted sign to put on their kennel. I am actually surprised that more didn't get adopted today since it was the first time they became available. I just hope their mom can get adopted as quickly, I would hate to see all of her puppies find homes and her be stuck in the shelter.

Later I got asked to help out with some photos of a few of our animals. It was the local paper again who come in every three months or so to feature ten dogs, cats, and rabbits. It's nice to get these guys a little added publicity and to get the word out about these great animals that are up for adoption. The one thing I don't like is I have to pick the dogs that get put in the paper. I try to get the ones that have been here the longest but I always have this guilty feeling that I left someone out. I just wish we could do more adoptions but I understand that sometimes it isn't always the fastest process.

Well, the day is coming to an end, I had already clocked out and was making my way out the gate when a woman pulled in with a stray. I took the animal and went back inside to check for a chip. Luckily he was chipped but unfortuanately the chip was only registered to a county shelter which was a little wierd since the animal was not altered. The woman who found the little guy was very helpful and she was willing to hold on to the dog hoping that she could find the owner. I gave her the information from the chip and said thanks for helping him out. I am happy to see that people are as caring for animals as I hope I am.

Monday, June 8, 2009

At least there was one today

The morning started just like every other one. I threw on the headphones and got to cleaning. Once the dogs were back in their kennels I headed over to the rabbitat where I was met by another staff member. We changed the rabbits bedding, threw in some fresh hay, and gave them fresh water and we were done. I was about to walk over to the cattery to help out when a woman stopped me and said she had found a stray. He was a cute little wire haired mutt with a huge under bite and probably weighed in at a whopping five pounds. I took her into the office where she could fill out some quick paperwork on where she found the animal. Unfortunately the little guy wasn't chipped so we will end up calling county. The woman was concerned that the animal would be euthanised but we informed her the procedure at county, a five day hold to make sure the owner has the opportunity to find the animal and then the animal would be placed for adoption. It was also good for the woman to hear that in the last three years no animals have been euthanised in the county due to space or time spent. Heck, that even comforted me. After the woman left I took the dog and set him up in a kennel in ISO, of course as I am bringing him back there is a call over the loud speaker saying "Nick, just so you know that dog is infested with fleas". Not that it makes any difference now, but it was still a little surprising and funny at the same time to hear that.

Today was really laid back compared to yesterday. The only thing extra we had to do compared to Saturday was laundry. It was good to see the old beast working again and nice that we can finally get caught up on laundry and not have to worry about it breaking down again. The fix for the washer consisted of pulling the machine out, ripping out the concrete, laying re-bar down, pouring fresh concrete, then bolting the machine into the concrete. I have to say it seems like it is a permanent fix but I am sure eventually that damn thing is going to shake itself apart.

Once all of the morning chores were taken care of I decided to go and spend some time with the Mississippi dogs. I was lucky enough to have my fiance come volunteer today so I was glad to go hang with her and a few puppies. She decided to sit with our little Tot who is the sweetest giant schnauzer mix puppy that has the best temperament. I couldn't believe how fast she fell in love with this dog. She added that we should think about adopting. Not only do I always want to take these animals home now I have the added voice of my best friend telling me we should do it as well. Definitely not making it any easier.

Of course the one actual showing I do today was with a mother and a daughter who drove about 45 minutes to see that same dog. They had seen the little guy on the website and he reminded them of a dog they once had. The application looked good and the showing went very well. Tot was running around with the puppy coordination and just having a ball. I warned them on all of the time and energy needed with puppies and it seemed that they really understood. The one concern was that they have a cat at home and our little guy hadn't been tested for that. Luckily we have our special needs cats that love just about everything out there so I took the puppy back to the med room where he showed some interest, a little nervousness, and eventual ignorance. The adoption was a go, of course I'm sad we don't get to take him home but I am glad we at least had this one adoption today and can know that he will have a good life.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. We had a few applications for the puppies that will be available in the next few days. It's always funny when you tell the people that it is a first come first serve basis and yet they still try to put a hold on the little guys. What we have been doing is merely a screening process and eliminating the people that will not be a good fit for the eight week old little guys. The people that do qualify will have to call and see if the puppies are available and be the first ones to walk through the doors because once they are gon they are gone.

It was a nice day today, good to find at least one dog a good home. I just hope that the rest won't be sitting in their kennels for too long.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Back from three days off

It's always nice when you can go into work with a refreshed attitude and a big smile. Unfortunately after about three hours today it seemed to wear off. The day began with me being told that I would disinfect the south yards and kennels, by myself. Not a huge task but the first time I have ever heard it being done by one person since I began working here. I started by taking all of the dogs out to their yards. Next I scooped up all of the poo, which seemed to be worse than better since the last time I took care of these guys. After that I sprayed down all of the kennels with a mix of water and a green foaming cleanser. Once that had sat in there for a few minutes it was time to start scrubbing, and scrubbing I did. From top to bottom and even on my hands and knees I had to make sure there was no inch not covered because all of the dogs came back clean for hook worm and we had to make sure that they weren't going to catch it again. Once I scrubbed I rinsed and then continued to spray the entire kennel down with a bleach solution, but this time I have smelled poo, disinfectant, and now bleach...not a good combo when it comes to odors. After the bleach solution sat for about ten minutes in each kennel I rinsed it out again and squeegeed out all of the water.

Luckily at this point a staff member had come out to help and she was able to set up all of the beds and help me get their morning breakfasts. Once all of the food was down it was time to bring the dogs back. I started with the first two and when I was about to put them in their kennel I turned around and there were two of the dogs that had apparently gotten so excited and jumped so much they were able to lift the latch on their gate. It's not unheard of but it was funny that they ran right to me and there was no need to chase them around everywhere. After all of the dogs were back in their kennels and eating their breakfast it was time to disinfect the yards that the dogs go to breaks in. We have to make sure there is no chance that any parasites can be transmitted again so it was time for a little more bleach and the pooper scooper.

Time to move on to the rest of the days tasks. It was now past eleven and the public was filing in. There were already showings in progress so I decided to take out the large number of garbage bags and empty bleach containers. Once that was done I headed over to the "pet kitchen" where I washed the already soaking dishes and tried getting the place organized. I know Saturday's are hands down our busiest day but I felt like today nothing was getting done. I do have to say at least we don't have to worry about the laundry. It turns out the machine will be up and running tomorrow after they replace the concrete beneath the machine in order to keep the whole building from being shaken down in the washer's spin cycle.

Once all of the morning chores were done the shelter had slowed down quite a bit. It was nice that I had some time to go and spend with a few dogs. I started with a friendly little guy named Spud who is a mix of some sort of hound and something else with a really big head. He is so sweet though when you go into his kennel and all he wants is attention. The only problem I have is that he is a real kisser and if you give him the opportunity he won't hesitate to plant one on you. After a few minutes of his attention seeking behavior he calmed down a bit and began to relax. He ended up falling asleep next to me after I rubbed his belly for a while. I can't even imagine the lack of sleep all of these animals have do to the incredibly stressful environment that they have been thrown into.

I learned later in the day that one of the adoptions that I had done about a month ago got returned. He was a sweet guy that I would best describe as a majestic animal. Well, it turns out they kept him in the garage and because it was hot one day they had it raised up a bit to let some air in. Well, apparently someone was walking by and the dog came out of the garage (not leashed) and ended up biting the individual. It was very unfortunate but it seems the dog did go out of his way to do this and from what I am told it was unprovoked. I really don't want to say anything else because I will really get upset but hopefully after a quarantine and some observation he will be good to go.

Finally I have a showing. It is with a beautiful black shephard mix that a family was eying since her arrival at the shelter. This is actually one of the Mississippi dogs and today was their first day that they were available for adoption. The family seemed like a good fit from their profile and we decided to head back to the south yard. Immediately I could tell the dog was very intimidated. She would cower and run over to me. I know that they haven't had that much interaction lately but this was still a little unusual. After a bit she got more comfortable and started interacting a bit better. Everything was going well until she got spooked by the young 10 year old son. She even showed a little aggression and was barking very loudly. At that point I decided that this was not a good fit and this would be the end of the showing. It was unfortunate but better to see here than having it happen in someones home.

That's about it for today. Sorry I could have had a little more to talk about rather than cleaning but that's the way it goes sometimes. I'll also have to update you on the adoptions today because I have no idea myself how many or what type of animals got adopted today. I do want to say thanks for reading and commenting. You never know if anyone is actually going to be reading this but for those of you that are thank you, and spread the word and educate others on the importance of altering your animals.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Back to normal

Well, my solidarity towards the Mississippi dogs has come to an end. Today I was back to handling our other animals and couldn't even touch the new guys because of the fear of cross contamination. The good part is, I actually get to spend some time with some guys that I have really grown attached to.

I started the day a little different since I was assigned to clean the cats this morning. Luckily the air system is working well and my allergies didn't get to me too bad. I do have to say though there are a lot of cats! It may not seem like a lot but when you have to feed, clean, and care for about 40 cats it takes up a little of your time. I'm just glad that all of them went in their boxes this time and I didn't have to worry about breaking out the rubber gloves. There was one though that seemed to have thrown up his special duck and pea diet which was quite a pretty picture. The kittens hands down are always the most enjoyable to deal with though. We do have a couple that have a cold but hopefully they will all be medically released soon so we can get them into a loving home.

After the cats I noticed that the rabbitat hadn't been started yet so I got on it. While I was cleaning, another staff member had finished up their tasks and joined in the fun. Right while I was finishing though I was informed that we had an all staff meeting. I'm not going to lie, it was the same old same old with a little added fun of a bank coming in trying to stir up some business. The sweet thing was there were some nice donuts we all dug into.

Once the garbage was piled up (still can't take it out because the dumpster is overflowing) and the laundry started it was time to asses the day. I gave our behaviorist a break down on what I experienced with the Mississippi dogs the last three days since I had spent so much time with them so hopefully that helped. I do have to say that I missed spending some time with the stinky little guys.

Since it was a slow day I got to hang out and give some love to a lot of guys I haven't been able to touch the last few days. We even have some new puppies which are super fun to hang out with. There are four of them and their mother, we're calling them shephard mixes and in a few weeks when they are available I am sure they will find homes very quickly. Here is a picture of one of the little guys, sorry for the blurriness, it's tough to get a puppy to stand still.

While I was hanging out with the little guys I got a call to do a showing with a little chihuahua mix that was relinquished this past week. He is a funny little guy that is a little shy at first but once he gets to know you he is a trip. He actually will bring his better over to your lap and start to hump it. I didn't open with this in the showing but it was certainly discussed if they took him home and he proceeded to do the same thing. The possible adopters were a perfect fit. They actually still have a dog that they had adopted from us about three years ago and it was good to see them come back. The showing went well and the next step was to do an interaction. It went alright but the couple wanted to think about it. Hopefully they take their time and truly think it over because it is always a big commitment when getting a new pet. I'll keep you updated if they come back.

Later on I found out that one of the kennel staff members found a little kangaroo mouse on their desk. You could tell he was a little sick and we expected he might have gotten into one of the poisen boxes that are located around the shelter. She cared for the little guy very well and even got a cage for him with fresh food, water, and even a running wheel. He seemed to be doing fine and running along but later in the day we went into the office and noticed that he had passed on. It wasn't a total shock but it was very sad to see. He was given a nice burial and hopefully he had a good life. Does make me think about the poisen boxes and the actual purpose of them.

The last bit of good news on my Friday is that volunteers can now go and spend time with all of the Mississippi dogs. The staff has certain precautions still in place to thwart the spread of disease but I am glad that these little guys can get some more human contact and quite time. For now the majority of the volunteers aren't taking them to any yards but rather spending some time sitting in their kennels with them. I hope they are doing well and I can't wait until they are available so we can make this tough journey that they have been through worth while.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Getting to know the dogs

For the past few days I have been tasked with caring for the quarantined Mississippi dogs that arrived at our shelter after a long three day road trip. At first I was a little disappointed because if you are involved with these dogs you are unable to deal with the rest of them due to their illnesses. But after today doing the same thing I really feel like I am bonding with these animals.

The cleaning has even gotten easier. I guess the medications are working because fewer and fewer of them have that horrible diarrhea anymore. By no means is it clean but it is really a lot better since the first day I cleaned them. After clearing out all of the poop and switching hoses, that's right, a new hose that doesn't get you soaking wet after you use it, or so I thought. The new hose was one of those non kink things that took a good ten minutes just to untangle. Everything was going well, no leaks or kinks, but when I started rinsing out the kennels the sprayer would fly off and I would get drenched. I was at my wits end after the sixth time of this happening. I know I'm no rocket scientists but I was pretty sure I was putting the thing on right. Hopefully we can get a new nozzle because I was seriously getting frustrated at this point.

Once I got all the guys food down I went back to their yards to spend a little time with the special dogs. They all get along with each other pretty well but you have to keep their "doggy skills" up while they are under quarantine. You also have to make sure that they are getting more and more used to humans handling them because the less time you spend the more fearful they will become. Out of the bunch there are certainly my favorites and a few that are a little difficult to handle but once again they are all very friendly animals. One I have been paying particular attention to is a mix beagle that is just about double the size of a traditional beagle. She is still really fearful and I have to use a mentor dog in order to get her out of her kennel. She is getting better though, I think I even saw a happy tail wag when I went in her kennel this morning rather than the nervous tail to the left I have gotten all week.

Once all of the dogs were taken care of and fed I headed over to the rabbitat where another staff member and myself were able to knock it out very quickly. Soon after it was on to the rest of the duties. Unfortunately garbage couldn't be taken out because our dumpster was overflowing but laundry was still backed up. Of course the dryer was on the fritz again but at least this time I could call the service number. Turns out the thing was overheating and I basically had to climb inside the lint trap to find the thermostat reset button. After being covered in fuzz and I found the button and the thing seems to work fine now. Of course once I fixed that I find out that the water has been turned off because the water heater is being replaced. There goes getting caught up on the laundry.

After all of the "chores" I headed back over to my animals and got them fed. I feel horrible for them because you can tell that they were kenneled with quite a few other dogs and they litterly scarf down their food faster than I can put it in their bowls. After feedings I headed back to the office for a quick adoption denial. It was for a puppy that the adopter would want to keep outside while he was away and also at night. The man was understanding when I explained to him about not only the safety concerns for the animal but also the behavior issues that will arrise. I just hope he doesn't go somewhere else and get a dog that he is going to keep outside all day. Quickly after that I was called to do a cat showing as well. I wanted to immediately deny it because their last two were indoor/outdoor cats and were killed by coyotes and they once again wanted an indoor/outoor cat. To my surprise though they had moved and were in a new location so that made it a little bit better. The only thing was the cat that they had seen through the window was an indoor cat only and I would not be able to show him. She got a little frustrated at our "military strictness" but I explained to her why and she seemed to understand.

Once all was said and done I got my guys out for one last break. I got their areas cleaned and organized and decided to spend some time with my beagle friend. She is finally eating out of my hand and seems to be getting a little more comfortable but she still has a long way to go. I am looking forward to these guys getting cleared in order for the volunteers to start socializing them better and not to mention finding them their forever homes. And if you didn't guess already, the picture at the top is my new friend that I have been spending so much time with. Thanks for reading and keep the comments coming, I love to know what everyone is thinking.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mississippi Dog's caretaker

I was a little disappointed that I volunteered to take care of the Mississippi dogs today for one reason, I would not be involved in any dog showings or adoptions. For some reason I thought the main reward for this job was finding the perfect forever homes for these dogs but today I found out that wasn't necessarily true. The affection that you get from some of these animals is amazing. When I first show up in the morning and they all recognize you as the man with the food they really do seem happy to see you.

I started off by dawning the protective gear (hook worm would not be fun to catch) and I took the dogs out to their dog runs. I was surprised to see a little less poo this morning but it was still a whole lot compared to most days. I have began learning all the little nuances of these sweet Mississippi dogs. They are all so happy to see you when you go into their kennels and looking for some affection, but if you make any sudden movements they cower and freeze up. I'm not sure the experiences that these poor dogs have had (maybe the three day car ride) but overall they are so loving. I'm not going to lie, I have my favorites already but they are all growing on me. Especially a little beagle mix that is so timid I have to have another dog walk in with me in order to get her out of her kennel. She is incredibly sweet but definitely fearful of humans. I brought her some chicken jerky and see took it so gingerly then set it down on the floor, once I left she went back and ate it. Hopefully she will gain a little trust because she is such a sweet girl (and potty trained) that she will make a great companion once we get her off of quarantine.Once I got all the dogs their medicine for the morning, their food bowls filled, and their kennels spic and span I headed over to grab the garbage. Like I mentioned yesterday the dumpster was completely overflowing. It turns out that they couldn't pick it up this week due to the driveway being tarred. Well, unfortunately it is the only dumpster where any sort of "poo" can go and two weeks of it at a shelter can be quite a bit. I actually needed help to make sure the balancing act of poo bags five feet over the dumpsters edge didn't fall.

After the trash was taken care of it was time to get the laundry started. To my surprise now the dryer was on the fritz. For some reason an error code I had never seen before was blinking. I went into the office and went through the ten year old manual but was unable to find anything. I went online and was able to find a more detailed version, all I ended up doing was unplugging the thing, hit a tucked away reset button and away we went. First thing I dried was the laundry already in the dryer but also my bleach soaked shoes and socks. It was so nice to put on some toasty shoes compared to the usual dripping wet ones.

Believe it or not the whole dryer thing actually took me quite a while to figure out. The rest of the day was pretty routine with me doing some laundry and missing out on some showings. There weren't any dog adoptions today but there were three cats that found their forever homes. It really has been slow when it comes to cat adoptions so this was great to hear. I just hope that more of them can go home sooner than later.

After my afternoon feedings with the Mississippi I spent some time with them in their kennels. I learned one submissive peas and another gets a bit mouthy and jumpy but I also confirmed that all of these animals are incredibly sweet and loving. Even though I didn't do any adoptions today I was glad to be the care taker for such great and appreciative animals. The sad part is I learned about them coming out from another staff member and she told me the driver brought a total of 35 dogs to California and while he was loading them up another 50 came into the shelter. We have to do something about this problem. Dog and cat overpopulation is a huge problem but it can easily be fixed if everyone would have their animals altered. Trust me, if you could see the faces on these dogs you would understand why I think this way. There are too many of these wonderful guys not making it to their forever homes for the simple fact that there aren't enough homes. Here are some sweet faces I was able to capture during the Mississippi dogs afternoon breaks.
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