Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Day of Divine Intervention and Bedlam

Yesterday was one of those days, where your heart sinks, the day that you dread as a volunteer for a shelter. Early in the morning, my phone rang, with my friend on the other end calling to tell me that the day had that we had all been anticipating with great sadness and anxiety, knowing it was out there on the horizon. We had finally been at more than capacity for too long, and three dogs were going to be put down. We only have 6 dog runs at our shelter, and we have been at 12-13 dogs for a long time now. We just double up on the runs, and put one dog in the makeshift run behind the shelter. And we had been doing this for a month and half now, scrambling like mad to get our dogs adopted before this day came.

Fourth of July weekend is a bad weekend for dogs. We get so many lost and stray dogs due to people having backyard parties and leaving gates and doors open, or the actual neighborhood fireworks scares dogs so badly they leap their fences to try to get away from the noises. Dog that were never fence jumpers or runners find themselves now on the run, lost, and disoriented by all the explosions going on around them, like all of a sudden being thrust into a war zone. This is a very traumatic day for a lot of animals, and even the local shelters who don't often have dogs fill up this weekend every year. Which brings us to our overcrowded pound, on a holiday weekend known for large numbers of intakes.

One dog scheduled for the short list has always been a volunteer favorite. He is a dalmation/great dane mix, whose owners gave him up to us three months ago because he got too big for them. Why they didn't think about this in the first place before they adopted him, I don't know. This is something that happens alot, as well as people giving up their animals because they are moving, or because after five years they develop allergies and don't want to take medication. But, I digress. The other two dogs have just as tragic back stories, including a 7 month old boxer-pitt mix who had lived her entire life in a crate in a basement, before being given up to us because the people were tired of her. She has absolutely no training, and is basically like a giant, friendly, wild dog. Her owners have ruined her, and it will take a great deal of love, patience and rehab to make her a pet, and unfortunately, those homes are hard to find.

So, I was not looking forward to stopping by the pound yesterday afternoon. I had to stop in to drop off a key to my friend, and I was fully expecting sadness and grim expressions. Instead, I walked into a pound with an uplifted, joyous mood, the kind of feeling that you get when you escape something big and frightening by the seat of your pants. It was borderline euphoric, and everyone had giant smiles beaming from their faces. Three dogs had been adopted, including one of our death row dogs, the dalmation/great dane mix! This freed up cage space and left breathing room for our other dogs, at least for a little while. So, while the day had begun as the kind of day that you hate when you are a volunteer at a shelter, it ended as the type of day you love, the kind where the most needy dog finds a loving home.

My own home right now is chaos! We currently have Penny, our dog; Maggie, our cat; and Sassy, my brother and sister-in-law's dog. They all get along quite well, that is not the problem. The problems arise at feeding time, and at bedtime, believe it or not. Penny and Sassy both have special dietary needs, prissy little girls that they are, and have specific food to address these needs. Maggie is eating kitten chow, which is not that great for adult dogs, who usually get sick if they eat it due to the higher levels of fat and protein that is in food for young animals. And of course, they all want to eat each others food, and not their own. I have to chase Penny away from Maggie's bowl, and Sassy away from Penny's bowl, and Maggie away from Sassy's bowl! It is like a circus meets feeding time at the zoo around here at mealtimes. Added to this, Sassy does not want to eat really at all, because she is still getting used to our house, and is feeling a little bewildered. This morning I had to put Maggie and her food bowl on the ironing board, and close the door to that room; next I put Penny in the hallway with her bowl, and gated that off; and finally Sassy ate in the kitchen, after I added a tiny bit of Penny's bland wet food to her bowl to temp her into eating. But once they were all chomping away in unison throughout the house, I had to smile at the situation, and the fact that I absolutely love having a houseful of happy, loved animals.

Sleeping is another story- the past two nights Billy and I have gone to bed and woken up with two dogs and a cat in bed with us. Good thing we have a large bed, is all I have to say. Of course, Maggie has to sleep right on top of me, knowing somehow in her little cat way that I am allergic to her. She is too cute to push away though, so I just suffer slightly for her.

All in all, yesterday was a good day - dogs were adopted, my animals are doing well, and for one dog, who had been downtrodden and was at the end of his rope, he finally found freedom on Independence Day.


  1. This was very well written article. Tugs at the heart strings. These animals need so much and there are so few volunteers. This author really lets the people out there know how much she loves and cares for these wonderful souls.

  2. You did a great job with this blog, and I appreciate you for taking the time to not only sit down and express yourself, I appreciate all that you do for the shelter, PAWS and animals in general. It is people like you and the others who give so much of themselves for the shelter and PAWS that make our "animal" world a better place! Keep up the good work!

  3. I have tears in my eyes! I don't know how you do it, but I'm glad you do!


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