Recently I put a thingy on our Facebook page that said something to the effect that volunteers don’t get paid because they are priceless, not worthless. As I was going about my business at the shelter today I looked around and realized exactly what that meant.
It is spring break for our kids here and two of the boys who chose to donate their off time to us and spend it with our orphans were crushing cans so we can recycle and make some ‘critter money’. LD and Austin, you know I am talking about you. I know I come across as rude and crude sometimes but don’t think for one minute that I don’t respect and appreciate what you are doing. Our girl who chose to spend her time likewise, was in the cattery loving and brushing and talking to the kitties. Sharla, you are the cat’s meow. We had a school teacher sweeping floors after walking dogs and spending quality time with our newest and very scared kitty Jewel. Amy spends whatever time she can spare with us and we love her. I looked out into the yard are and there is the vet assistant, Amanda, scooping poop. Amanda works with us five days a week and is amazing with anything to do with animals. Jane is our power walker and you can see her zipping around our walking path giving the guys and girls a work-out. Ms. Debbie is there six days a week most weeks. She does some of everything and is indispensable. Thank you Debbie.
I know there are a dozen or more volunteer heroes (they are heroes to me and the orphans) that I haven’t mentioned. Debbie C. has a full-time job but comes Sunday early to help me clean before going to church. My night folks, Chris and Paula and sometimes Debbie---they take a load off when I don’t have to do bed check. The other girls who come on weekends when they can get here. Ashley, Jordan, Hannah, Hannah, oh shoot -- I know I can’t remember them all.
Not only do they donate their time, but more often than not they also donate supplies and treat etc. WOW is all I can say.
I just had to put my feelings about them out there. Our villagers are an amazing bunch of folks and I don’t know how to tell them how much we all, four and two-legged, appreciate them. I have to mention Jane W, who lives out of town now, but still spends one week a month with us. -----You are all what makes this place rock and I am humbled.
. . . from working with our critters at the shelter.
Patience - they are just as grateful for breakfast if you feed them first or last. Our Ms. Annie somehow always is at the end of the line, be it for food or to get out into the yard. She waits very patiently and quietly and when her turn comes, she is just as excited and happy as if she had been first.
Tolerance - I have watched some of our bigger and older dogs tolerate the most rambunctious puppies. To watch Bella get down on Calamity’s level and let her romp all over her is worth the watching. If she does get a little rough with the pup, one yelp and she stops. Calamity is a busy little girl and I don’t see how Bella keeps from being annoyed, but she tolerates.
Trust - I have learned to trust their instinct when it comes to people. (No, I have not learned to trust people.) These guys can quickly tell more about a person than I can. If our dogs indicate that they don’t like someone who may be looking to adopt, they won’t adopt. On occasion even the most even tempered of our kids have let me know in no uncertain terms their opinion of someone. I have learned to tell the difference between ‘my space-don’t invade’ or ‘you are a stranger and I don’t quite trust you’ and ‘oh hell no, I ain’t going home with you!!!’
I have learned that people who are compassionate toward animals are also compassionate toward other people --- and definitely that those who mistreat animals will mistreat another person in a heartbeat.
Perseverance - a dog or cat will keep on keeping on now matter the hand life deals. They will make the best of whatever circumstance without complaint for as long as they can. DeeJay (and Spirit) did the best they could with what there was. They didn’t give up, didn’t get mad, didn’t complain. I am learning.
We should strive to be like them. Accept things because ‘it is what it is.’ Skip the drama, be honest, be thankful, be loyal and live in the moment.
We proclaim ourselves to be a ‘No Kill’ shelter. There are those who will argue that there is no such thing. To some degree I would have to agree. They would question what happens to the animals we turn away because of lack of room.
I say that the animals in our care are safe. They will remain in our care until such time that they are adopted into their own family and home. I say that we make every effort to give the best care possible to each individual in our care. They are well fed, they are all spayed or neutered, they all receive personal attention daily from our amazing volunteers. We try to keep them socialized and adoptable.
If we overload we would not be able to take proper care of them. We have to consider not only space, but manpower and finances. Yes, we could possibly double up in some of our kennels and have done that on occasion, but that is not something we like to do. Not only does manpower come into play here, but these guys are on their own many hours a day. Should they have disagreements with no one there to intervene, the very least it would cost is a vet bill--at the most -- a life.
We have had volunteers who chose not to work with us because we don’t take each and every dog or cat in need. I hate to lose volunteers but reality is if we were to take 200, there would me 500 more out there in need. To use a well used cliche--we can’t change the world, but we can change the world for one dog or cat at a time. We trudge along trying to do just that.
Who makes the decision on when to take in a dog or cat? I do! No one else has to be responsible or feel guilt. How do I make the decisions? I follow my heart and my gut. I don’t keep a waiting list because too many unexpected situations occur. The pups who somehow wind up in the median on 231 are in much greater need and danger than the one John Doe is trying to re-home because he is moving in a few weeks.
We have been criticized for not pulling dogs from the pound. I say we take them before they go to the pound. We still occasionally take kids from there but usually don’t get the opportunity.
I feel comfortable about what we do and how we do it. I also feel comfortable with making the decisions. I am also ok with those who disagree with me, that’s what makes the world go around. The POOP
We have inside cats and we have outside cats. The outside cats range from friendly to feral. They think they are from Masterpiece Theater because we have Upstairs and Downstairs cats.
The Upstairs bunch will eat just outside of the kitchen area. I count every morning. 5 tuxedo -- 4 of them shorthair. Two of them are twins, one is Checkers and the other has been there for years and I still don’t know who it is. They are not procreating, so all is well. One of the twins will drink out of her paw, the other just has to have her paw in the water as she drinks. One of the other two will roll around and twitch and make you believe she is seizing until you go to check on her and she will take off. The long-haired tux is Shilo. She is our stalker and will follow you around if she can. She also greets all the new puppies and explains to them why you shouldn’t tease an old cat. They learn quickly from her. Kim and Flash are gray tabbies and then there is Conan. Conan is compact like a little tank. He was spoiled when Ms. Linda was working with us and he has to have some canned food on the A/C unit every morning. When he is finished with that he heads Downstairs.
Downstairs is the outside cat safe area and feeding station. Ms. Purrfect is a brown, puny tabby who has been here longer than I have. She will meet me on most mornings when I take the food. T-Rex was gone for about a month before we saw him again after releasing him. He is certainly there to stay now. Kimba is a beautiful Siamese mix who wants to be tame but can’t figure it out. By the time I get to them Conan is already poised to raise a stink down there, after he ate Upstairs. I have to scold him every morning.
So --- 8 and 3 ----- 11 outside cats, and all is well. These guys know when they can ramble in the dog enclosures and when they can’t. If the dogs are locked inside because I am cleaning, some of the cats will explore but they know enough to leave before we LET THE DOGS OUT -- woof woof.
All creatures are amazing. I could go on about just our outside bunch for hours. They hunt, they play, they are alert and see and hear things we never do. They love each other and they fight. They can hear you rattle a bag of treats from miles away. ----- I wonder where they go, I wonder how they think and what they would say to us if we could only understand them.
Share some cool cat stories (comment below), please --- I know you have them and we won’t think you are a crazy cat person. The POOP
Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Sunday everyone. I spent a few hours at the shelter as the only human today. That always let’s the mind wander. It wandered around where the volunteers may be this day and I know that almost all of them were in Church.
I also go, every morning. I get there while it is dark and see the sun rise. When I stop for a break I look up and see the trees dance. I watch for deer because they sometimes bound across our dirt road. I check out the birds. Other than blue jays, mockingbirds and cardinals, mourning doves have taken up residence close by and love annoying the dogs by utilizing their yards while they are kenneled. The robins seem to have moved on to wherever they go this time of year.
I recognize the miracle when I watch DeeJay take a running start and roll Annie in play. This is DeeJay whom we had to carry out of the woods close by because she had no use of her back end at all. She could not stand and certainly not walk. To watch her run and play and wag her tail is a miracle to me.
I see it when I watch Trouble sort of bound across the yard. He was given up on by the owner but the doctor wasn’t ready to give up on him. He is taking meds for thyroid problems and a diuretic to keep fluids of his little heart. He is a happy little man’s man. He has personality and attitude that won’t stop and every day he hangs around is a blessing.
I feel the miracle when the dog who played so rough with the volunteers that we had torn shirts and scratches---turns out to be the perfect dog for the perfect family who adopt her and can find no fault at all in her.
I just thought I would share why I love doing what I do----Amen
Blog they said. You are The Poop. Earning the title of THE POOP is like getting a peeeightchdee from the University of Poopery. Anyone who works with animals probably understands this. We have four-legged tail-wagging (or tail-swishing) machines who make it. We give them a bowl of material to work with and they promptly begin processing it. All we have to do is pick it up. There is some finesse to pooper scooping and at some point I got really good at it.
I also learned to read it, like some folks read tea leaves. I haven’t gotten to the point of knowing the depositor’s age or breed just yet. I can however discern an array of health issues. If all of our canine guests leave tootsie rolls, it is a good day.
I promise I will never write about this again, but did want to explain why I am proud to carry this title. It is better than being made a ‘Lady’ by the Queen. Now all that remains is to figure out a way to recycle and profit.
~ THE POOP
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ODCHS • PO Box 2502 • Ozark AL 36361