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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A happy holiday season

Today will be the last day I write for a few days because of the hectic holidays that are fast approaching. This is my first Christmas at the shelter and there are certainly some smiles on everyone's faces at this time.

The past week has been down right crazy, with new dogs coming in and a whole lot going out. Because of the big holiday the shelter decided against bringing in any large number of animals just because our medical staff would get to overwhelmed especially since they are short handed.
The animals that did come in, mostly relinquishments, have all pretty much been adopted out. Not sure if it's Christmas or what but there has certainly been a run on adopting shelter dogs and cats this month.

All of the adoptions are special but one dog that we were glad to see find a home is a sweet heart named Rusty. When we initially brought him in we estimated his age at six to eight, but after doing some research we found out that he was nearly ten and a half! This is difficult because since we knew the age we had to divulge it and let's just say it's a lot easier to adopt a young dog rather than a senior. Luckily the miracle happened and a perfect family came in and realized that it was the perfect fit and just like that Rusty found his forever home.

I want to add a special thanks to all of the volunteers across the country that help out at shelters and everywhere for that matter. You all play such a imperative roll in making sure that these animals difficult situations are made easier until they find their forever home. I also want to thank all of the donors throughout the year that have brought in everything from blankets to beds and food to treats. To make a shelter work takes a lot more than an adoption counselor so thank you to all of you out there that play such a big role in helping animals. I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year and continues the mission of helping animals in years to come.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A whole lot of busy work, saying good luck, and one solid showing

After the morning cleaning I headed over to take care of the rabbitat. It was pretty routine as usual until I had to switch out a litter box for one of the guys. I went to the outside supply of the large plastic boxes and found one up on a top shelf. I was reaching for the stack when I noticed how heavy they all were, as I pulled it down I soon realized why. About four or so gallons of water came splashing down on my head completely soaking me. Luckily it wasn't to cold out and thankfully we have a industrial dryer. Other than the fact that it was pretty embarrassing it wasn't to bad. At least the rabbits got a clean box.

Once all of the cleaning was done the day was pretty routine. There were a few showings early on but I didn't get my first one until the afternoon. Then of course it wasn't a showing but rather a denial. On the profile it turns out not only did they have a female dog (we don't do female to female adoption due to history of such instances) and the big one was that they had a "prego" cat, or at least they hoped so. Now, I have no doubt that they are a loving family who take very good care of their pets but it goes against our mission to help control the pet over population and find animals their new forever home that is going to be a perfect match. I just wish people would not completely close their ears once I tell them I cannot adopt to them. Some are understanding but some seem to take it so personally.

My last showing was a good one with a younger couple that was looking at one of our staff favorites T.J., a collie whippet mix. The showing went well but I wanted the couple to go home and thing about everything that possibly could arise from adopting this animal. I have no doubt that they would love T.J. but I want to make sure that this is her forever home and not a temporary fit until they move. I hope they read the handouts I gave them and they come back to adopt.

Closing out the day we all got to say good by to Margie, aka Minnie. It's one of those bitter sweet moments where you are so happy to finally see her find a home but you of course are saddened to see her leave. I know that she will be a very happy animal and make her new owners feel the same. Thanks for reading as always and if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions feel free to send them my way.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A quick day

It was the usual beginning to my day, taking out dogs for their morning break, cleaning out their kennels, turing the heaters off, feeding them, and bringing them back up. Nothing too exciting except twice while I was cleaning I noticed a toy chihuahua walking aimlessly up to me. It turns out one of the new second chance dogs can dig and move rocks pretty well. This was my excitement for the morning. Luckily he followed me right back to his kennel and didn't run.

Once all of the cleaning was done it was a pretty typical day. Lots of cleaning and surprisingly a lot of showings. Early on their was a kitten showing and of course an adoption. After that I was called to help out with a dog introduction with our recently available one year old lab named Marley. The intro went great and not to any of our surprises she was adopted the first day she became available.

There were a few more showings but nothing panning out as far as adoptions go. The rest of the afternoon was busy filled with feeding kittens and puppies and of course giving a little love to some special needs animals. I have to add a picture of Chica, one of my favorite dogs here right now. I was able to sit down with her today and spend some quality time with her and even scratch her ears for her.

Closing out the day I was told that there was a squirrel in need hanging out at the shelter. We think it might have either been attacked by another animal or gotten into the rat poison because there was something definitely wrong with it. I'm just glad we have people that are qualified to take care of this so I don't have to.

Sorry for the short length today, I spent most of my time cleaning up poop my own dog left for me. As always though thanks for reading and I truly appreciate the comments. I also have to close with a picture of Margie, aka Minnie, our deaf chihuahua that finally gets to go home.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A complete reversal

With all of the sad and stressful times this past week I was ready for a rebound, and today it came. The day started off as usual with lots of cleaning and making sure all of the animals were fed and as soon as the doors opened I was in a showing.

The first showing I had was with a tiny little kitten with the fitting name Itty Bitty. The woman had been in yesterday but because she came so close to five we were unable to show the animal. Luckily she wasn't deterred and came back first thing this morning. The showing went great with the adopter asking all of the right questions. The adoption was a go and this new kitten has a new place to call home.

The day seemed pretty routine for a Monday after my showing. There was lots of cleaning and of course preparing for the new batch of dogs to come in through our second chance program. Usually they arrive with our behaviorist around one but today she was running a little late and wouldn't be back at the shelter until after three. This was good news because now we had a little extra time to set everything up for the new arrivals.

While all of this was going on our med staff was taking care of some new cat intakes, more specifically five rag doll kittens. We've had a run on cats and kittens lately and the cattery has seemed pretty empty so over the next few days there are going to be a lot of intakes.

Now on to the highlight of the day. I was called to do a dog introduction with our longest of long termers Margie, aka Minnie. She is a super sweet deaf Chihuahua that is going to need an extremely patient home. The poor thing has been at the shelter upwards of six months because not only is she a special needs dog she is also pretty aloof. Luckily though she had already gone through the showing and it was already onto the interaction with the potential adopters dog. I was honestly amazed to see them interact. A little of Margie's bitchiness and jealousy came out but we were able to calm her back down quickly. Better to prepare the potential adopter of everything than adopting out a dog that could potentially get returned very quickly.

After we let them get used to each other we put them in our quite room with the family and two adoption counselors. By the end of it Margie was actually giving the other dog kisses. It was so great to see and the potential adopter felt the same way. It was also great to hear how her new family plans on working with her and her disability. After a solid hour the adoption was a go. I almost couldn't believe it but our Margie has finally found a home. Did I mention also that her new adopter is deaf, you want to talk about a perfect fit. We are such a lucky shelter that we have the ability to wait for the perfect adopters rather than just putting as many dogs out there as possible.

Later our behaviorist arrived with the new batch and was a little disappointed to see Margie still here. She had known about the showing when she called to tell us she was going to be late. Then of course I told her that Margie will be going home on Wednesday because her new family wants to prepare the house for her. It was nice to see some tears of joy, it really is amazing the group of people here and how much they truly care for these animals.

I'm truly uplifted after today and glad I get to share it with everyone. All the new pictures are some of our second chance arrivals that came in today, I have no doubt they won't be here long once they are available. As always, thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comments about animal shelters in general I would love to help.

Monday, December 14, 2009

There is the emotional labor factor

I seem to always here people say I wish I could have your job and I understand why, but there are those difficulties that tend to get over looked because the job, at times, is so rewarding. People typically just see working with loving dogs and finding them new homes and forget about the ones that aren't adoptable. In addition to this there are some other things in this job that can certainly bring you down.

One thing that I dealt with last week that I really didn't feel like writing about at the time was taking in a D.B., if you don't know what that stands for it's dead body. Being a shelter we dispose of the D.B., this I'm actually used to, but typically they die of old age and are covered up. This time though it was a young dog that was in an open box that had been hit by a car. Sorry for writing this, but it helps me deal with the sadness to put it out there. The even sadder part was trying to console the owners. In any case, it is quite a depressing thing to experience no matter what side you are on, I'm just glad that I can talk to people at work about it so get it off of my chest.

Along with this tragedy there were a few other not so great times this past week. Two of which were dog returns. One was completely understandable and it truly was the best thing for the dog, but the other I still have a few questions about because I was the one who did the showing several months back. The dog apparently has too much energy for the family, which, surprise surprise, is exactly what I told them when she was being adopted. Now I understand that they gave it every effort they could but it still makes me upset knowing that this animal is coming back to us. At the very least we will have a better idea of the perfect home for both of these dogs and their next adoption will be their forever home, not just a temporary residence.

Sorry for being so negative today, but there is a highlight to everything. I finished my day today with a showing of our little wiener dog Pee-Wee. The showing was with a loving couple that had lost their pet on Thanksgiving and decided there home was empty without him. Rather than go back to a breeder though they decided to look at all of the shelters. Amazingly enough they made it to us after ten stops and found their new little man. It was a perfect fit and if the family had tails, I know they would have been wagging.

It can be tough at times at this job, but that's just about everything you do in life. I want to thank everyone for reading and of course your wonderful comments as well. Hopefully I didn't dishearten you to much today, but there are times that I have to get things off of my chest. Thanks again and I look forward to your comments. I thought also that all of the happy pictures might brighten up your day, or at least put a smile on your face.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Busy day, sort of

I love those days that when you arrive at work you hit the ground running. Today started out just like that. I began by tackling the South side dogs and making sure all of their kennels were clean with lots of warm blankets when all of the dogs returned. Once I got all of the food down I started to bring up all of the dogs. There were a few that a volunteer brought up because she was actually giving them bathes. You might think it strange to do this in cold weather but it was the mange puppies that needed their weekly shampooing.

Next it was time to tale care of the dishes, surprisingly though someone had already started to soak them. This meant that my job was that much easier. Once that was taken care of it was time for the crates to be cleaned. This is a daunting task if you do it alone but thankfully there were two of us. They really weren't to bad except for a few litter boxes that were literally caked with cat poop, not my favorite smell in the world.

At this point in the day I had almost forgotten about poop buckets. We usually do them on Monday but since the rain halted that they needed to be attended to today. I was actually pretty surprised that they weren't worse. Not to much water had leaked in so it ended up being like it always is, full of a lot of poop. There are still a few rules that you should always follow when doing this, never breathe in when you are opening up a can, always quadruple tie the bag, keep an eye out for spiders, and of course don't snag the bag on anything. Simple rules, but if they aren't followed, disaster is around the corner.

Before I knew it the day was flying by. I finally had my first showing in the late afternoon with a little rat terrier mix. He is a super sweet little guy who definitely has some fear issues. Amazingly enough though he seems to be coming out of his shell and the showing went great. There are still a few concerns before he can go home, like meeting his potential big brother who can be a bit dominant. The woman has hope though and she should be back in the morning to do the dog introduction. Hopefully it works out because we want to send this dog home to a household with another pet to show the little guy the ropes.

I did have one more showing, or denial later in the day. It was for one of our little chihuahuas that came in last week. Everything on the profile looked good except for the fact that the little man would be left outside during the day. The reasoning for this was because of the house's alarm system. Rather than chastise the potential adopter I went into ways of dealing with an alarm system and a pet at the same time. Not sure if he is going to take my advice but the fact that I told him all of our dogs are indoor dogs gave me my easy out rather than telling him he is a bad pet owner. I really do believe his dog has a good life, but sending a tiny chihuahua to live outside just doesn't make sense to me.

That about wraps it up for the day. On a sad note though we did get a return, a sweet huskie named Sasha. This is one of those rare instances that I don't blame the family because they did everything they could, unfortunately it just wasn't the perfect fit. I'm just glad she didn't bite anyone or get physically hurt.

Sorry for the lack of pictures today, I didn't realize how fast the day went before it was time to go home. As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wow, this kind of sucks!

I have been so spoiled by the weather with the worst being an occasional hot day, well, I was in store for something different today. I got to work a little early and realized I should have brought about three different changes of shoes and socks. The amount of pooled water walking into the shelter was quite a site to see.

Because of all of the rain it was decided that the dogs would only go out to specific covered yards that have fake turf rather than going out to the normal ones that were completely flooded. This made things a little easier on us as well since we did all of the dogs in two shifts. Luckily this wasn't the first time this has happened at the shelter and there is a system for everything here. We all paired up to get the dogs done quicker so we could move into the cattery where it was a little warmer and dryer.

By this time though my efforts to avoid the puddles have failed, my socks are soaked to the sole and the water has been steadily climbing up my pant leg. At least there was a box of rain jackets that helped out a little though. Now aside from my own discomfort, I had to remember that the poor dogs were out in this as well. The shelter is designed for pretty much all types of water though with heaters over head and built into the floor. The roof is also made to come forward from the kennels with a nice slope that no water splashes in. All I have to say is luckily there was no lightning and thunder because that really would have freaked out the poor guys.

Because of the rain today showings were at a minimum. There were a few though and even an adoption of our little three pound Tina. I was glad to see that people stuck out the weather to come and save a life.

Since there were fewer showings we decided to tackle some organizing issues today. I started in the pet kitchen where I made sure the smell didn't make you gag when you walk in. While I was doing this other staff tackled the cattery and doing a little spring cleaning in December. Once all of this was done it was time to sweater up all of the short haired dogs. So many people think that it is for vanity, but in reality it is to help keep the little guys warm. Of course we had to take care of the poor mange puppies first. Here are some pictures of the little guys.

That was about it for the day. I did think about changing into scrubs and putting all of my clothes in the dryer but then what would I have to look forward to when I got home. I do know I haven't played in the rain like this since my Marine days and I was sure looking forward to getting home and taking a shower. Thanks for reading everyone and following on Google and Facebook. Take care and I will be back tomorrow.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Counting on some adoptions

Back from a few days off I learned that there were a few adoptions but less than expected, with that news all I could focus on was adoptions. After the morning ritual of cleaning the day actually started off pretty slow.

The first thing that I found myself doing was helping out another staff member deep clean our kitchen. You would be amazed what you could find when you actually move stuff out of the way to clean behind them. I'm not going into details about the mess but it was pretty nasty, and coming from a kennel worker you can imagine it was pretty bad.

Once this was done it was on to the odds and ends of the shelter. I started by taking care a load of laundry, something I like to do now that it is cold outside. It's nice when you get all of those warm blankets out to fold them, a lot better doing it now than in the dead of summer. After that I decided to fix a plank in one of the wooden gates that for some reason I always snag our wagon on. Unfortunately that took all of three minutes so once again I had to find something else to do.

Luckily there was a call over the radio for a showing with one of the recently available second chance dogs Lilo. I was a little disheartened though when I went over the adopter's profile and learned that of the two dogs that were in the household one was not altered. This means an immediate denial since it kind of goes against our mission. I was surprised to learn though when I went into the showing that the two dogs actually live at the woman;s daughters house and the reason that only one of them is altered is because she found them on the streets and got the female spayed first because she was pregnant. I have to say this was pretty unusual but this along with the fact that the woman had adopted her previous dog from us made it one of those exceptions. The showing ended up going great, I'm not sure however that the family actually listened to everything that I had to say since this dog has some potential medical issues. Hopefully everything checks out when we spay her and she will be able to go home sooner than later, in any case, it was a nice adoption and my first in quite a while.

The rest of the day was pretty busy as well, the rest of the staff all had showings and of course more adoptions. A total of five in total today, not to bad. In addition to this we even had a familiar face come and visit, it was Jack and Sweetie's adopter who came in with some donations. It was great to hear how well the duo was doing and to see the smile on the adopter's face when he spoke of them.

The day ended with a dog introduction with two gentleman that had adopted a dog from us about seven years ago. I let another staff member take our dog out for the intro since she had more experience with her. From what I hear it went very well so cross your fingers for T.J. and hope that she finds her forever home soon. Oh yeah, the two pictures are some of our recent second chance dogs, I love the one of Larry peeking his head over to the next kennel.

Thanks for reading as always and I look forward to your comments. And remember, as Bob Barker used to say, "help control the pet population, have your pet spayed or neutered".

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Some quality time

Amazingly enough, today I got to spend some truly quality time with a few animals. Aside from the usual cleaning there were very few showings, in fact, none that I did myself, so it left time to hang with some of our residents.

After I did a load of laundry I decided to stock up the cattery with some towels and cat beds. Of course while I was in there I decided to hang out with one of my favorite cats Molly. The cattery is a funny thing, it kind of works on seniority in there and if you have been here for a while the cats tend to get more space to roam free. Such is the case with Molly who has her own room with a giant window to gaze out at the world. I'm not exactly sure how long she has been here but I do know that she is the friendliest cat I have ever met, sometimes a little too friendly. When I went into her room she immediately started talking and when I sat down she jumped right up in my lap and started purring. Then came the cleaning of my jacket. I have to say a cat's tongue on a wind breaker is pretty similar to fingernails on a chalk board. She ended up just laying in my lap for a good fifteen minutes and purring until I figured there had to be something I could do at the shelter. Overall it was incredibly relaxing to hang out with my favorite feline friend Molly, here is a pic of her laying on my lap, a little blurry but it's tough to get a cat to stay still when they are trying to clean you.

The rest of the day was pretty routine. We, as always, needed to make sure that all of the special feedings animals got taken care of as well as all the rest. Wednesdays you always have to make a little extra to put aside for the surgery dogs that haven't eaten in the past twelve hours but nothing else special about dishing out the food today. It is pretty funny to see customers faces perk up when they think a dog is barking at them just to learn that it's actually because the food bucket is making its way around.

Closing out the day it was time to bring all of the dogs out for their break. For some reason though we had a lot of "LOOSE DOG" calls. It seems when it rains it pours. I think I counted a total of about five dogs that got out today. On top of this, at one point I was carrying a small chihuahua from the new second chance dogs while holding another two on leashes, as I was trying to get out of the yard where they were kept another staff member was taking care of the other three. Unfortunately my chuck taylor's snagged on the bottom of the fence, tore a huge hole, and of course I went flying backwards straight on my butt. Luckily no dogs were harmed, just my ego. Lots of excitement for a simple task of bringing dogs up from their break yards.

Of course it wouldn't be a Wednesday without some cute surgery pictures. These are a few of the guys that got altered today and were still not quite sure what the heck was going on. Thanks for reading everyone and I look forward to your comments, oh yeah, I had to add another picture of my favorite little mange puppies and their mom in the world.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Not the way I like to start the morning

I usually don't start out with a picture but today it seemed fitting. When I first came in today I figured I might as well get right to it and as soon as I saw the first kennel I was about to clean I nearly gagged. Apparently the 65 pound dog that was staying there got a little jumpy last night but not before pooping a few times. What this means is that there was some nice artwork painted all over the kennel, as you can see from the picture. Just be thankful that computers have yet to perfect the smell o vision because it was pretty rank.

Once all of the morning cleaning was done it was time for, you guessed it, more cleaning. There are those Tuesdays when you are incredibly busy with showings but unfortunately today was not one of those days. Even though I would have loved to have seen some adoptions it was nice to have the time to catch up on the necessities and even get to spend some quality time with the animals.

The next thing on the to do list for cleaning on the day was to disinfect all of the crates that our behaviorist had used the day before to bring back the second chance dogs. This can be a pretty daunting task but luckily we had three people attack it and knocked it out rather quickly. There were those nasty parts those where you would find some swollen ticks and of course a little vomit from the four hour long adventure to make it to the shelter.

During the week there is always the weekly cleaning assignments. Today was no different but at least a little easier, and more pleasant, than Monday poop buckets. The assignment today was cleaning and organizing the cattery. This includes vacuuming out the sliding door tracks because litter accumulates very fast, washing the windows, and organizing the cabinets. This sounds like it can be done very quickly but with three separate rooms it took up quite a bit of time, luckily though we had a few staff members tackle it together and get it done in a timely fashion.

Personally I didn't have any showings today, I did however help out a Spanish speaking gentleman with some cats. I am always amazed that I am the one that speaks the most Espanol her at the shelter because I really can't speak it that well. Luckily though as long as you try people are willing to work with you, and if I speak a little Spanish and they speak a little English we can usually get our messages across.

With everything pretty much done I had some time to hang with the animals. Of course I am going to hang with the new guys to see how they are but there is only so much bad smell that you can take. I know that sounds horrible but being gone for so long I think I got my sense of smell back.

One dog I payed particular attention to was a little terrier mix that literally looks like Benji. The only bad part is we had to separate her to ISO because of the amount of nasal discharge that she has. This could mean several things but until we can separate her and monitor her eating habits it might be tough to see what direction of treatment and testing is necessary. I do know that she is incredibly sweet and loves to be loved so hopefully we can start some sort of treatment on her soon and get her adopted come Saturday. Here are a few pictures of the cutie just so you have an idea of why I became so attached.

Well, hopefully tomorrow I can write about some great adoption stories and not about cleaning, but it is what it is. As always I appreciate your comments and keep them coming. Thanks for reading and of course thanks for helping out the animals.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A week away but it felt like a month

Well, I am finally back from my vacation and back at it again at the shelter. It's tough coming back to work after being off for so long, especially trying to play catch up on all of the new adoptions and animals. I think the toughest thing though was getting used to the smells again.

The first thing I did when I got in was read the board to learn that there were a lot of cat adoptions while I was gone, I think the total was about five. I also found out that a few dogs got to go home as well. It's nice to see so many adoptions on a holiday week, I just hope that all of those adopters kept their animals close during the holiday and didn't leave them unattended while they adjust to their new homes.

My first order of business at the shelter, besides cleaning, was to find out what new animals we have. I learned quickly that we were pretty low but our behaviorist was heading out to round up a new batch. I did see a mom and her three pups in one of the kennels. This was not your typical family though, apparently all of the puppies have a form of mange that isn't contagious but certainly needs some attention. Aside from being pretty pink, having little hair, and a few scabs these little guys seem very happy and they are certainly growing on my. Here is a picture of the group below.

I felt today that I never got into a routine. After being off for so long it seemed like everything was new. Luckily it was a Monday and we were pretty slow otherwise I'm sure I would have been more flustered. I was a little nervous going into my only showing of the day. For one thing I didn't know to much about the dog I was going to be showing and the other I hadn't even thought about doing a showing for an entire week. Luckily the potential adopter would be a perfect home for any of our animals. She ended up wanting to see out bull dog mix Chica who came to us from another shelter. The showing went great but the tough part is yet to come, an introduction with her pit mix.

Later in the day the woman returned with her dog. We did the initial interaction and everything seemed fine. Once down in the yard both dogs were pretty much ignoring each other. After a while though they did show some interest and Chica even play bowed before trying to dominate the woman's dog. When all the hair on both dogs backs were standing up it was time to calm them down. What I got from the showing is that Chica just has no idea how to play, probably because of under-socializing but there could be something else there. I don't think the interaction was a complete loss, I suggested that the woman come back again and try it on another day when both dogs can be a little more at ease.

Closing out the day our behaviorists arrived with the new dogs, fourteen of them to be exact, a new record. As usual all of them were incredibly cute and seemed like they had good temperaments. I'm looking forward to hanging out with them tomorrow and getting to know them better.

As always thanks for reading everyone, I look forward to your comments and of course thanks to all of you out there that help out the animals. I had to add this one last picture I took last week of the hair dog our med staff made after brushing one of the new guys, check out the hand next to it for scale.

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