Monthly Archives: September 2011

Gimme Shelter. Part 2.


Recently, I made the decision to volunteer at an animal shelter. My brother and I had applied at the Bucks County SPCA a few months ago and never heard back. While I was somewhat disappointed, I wasn’t really upset as I know they are well- supported. But, I did kind of think, “who doesn’t take the time to even follow up with people who are willing to give up their time in return for picking up poop?’. Anyway, the timing wasn’t really right for me, but, I continued to visit and was able to help 2 friends find their new housemates there, 1 cat and 1 puppy. I felt good about that. However, at the back of my mind was this nagging thought…I can do more…I can do more. And, then, the thing happened that caused me to stop thinking it and start doing it.
I follow a group on Facebook, called Love Four Paws (you can “Like” them on FB, or check out their website at, based out of Philadelphia Animal Care & Control and over the past few months, have donated some treats and some toys. Whenever a plea has gone out, I have tried to give something…cat food, Kongs, soft dog treats for dog training. Through the course of these months, I have looked at photos of  the volunteers and dogs at events, playing together and in pleas for adoption or foster parents. I would sometimes post them on my own wall, would celebrate with others when a dog was saved and cry when they weren’t. A little over a week ago, I saw a post about a dog who didn’t make it, and though others have made me cry, this one, for some reason, really, really broke my heart. And, my decision was made. For me, the treats and the toys would no longer be enough. I have the time, I have the resources (2 arms, 2 legs, a car), and if it matters to me, there is no excuse not to do it. So, I emailed my friend who runs Love Four Paws, got the info. and 4 days later, went to orientation.
Today was my first visit back after orientation and I loved it. On Sunday, I hung out with 2 great dogs and today, I played with and walked with 5. Every time I thought I was ready to leave, I’d look at someone else and think…ok, what’s one more? If it sounds weird to say that the 6 hours I have spent at the shelter were the happiest I have been in a long time, so be it. Anyone who knows me, knows that I have had a helluva year and I will take my comfort wherever I can find it.
It may also sound weird that I find comfort at a high volume animal shelter, where they see about 30,000 animals a year. But, again, if you know me, you know that I love animals and that I have a philosophy about shelters. If you don’t, here it is: it is absolutely sad  that so many animals need homes, but, rather than focus on that sadness, something in me finds hope for them to be more compelling than the sadness. I have long visited shelters and spent time with the cats and dogs, because I feel like my sadness needs to take a back seat to their socialization and well- being. Turns out, I was on to something. An article I recently read, co- authored by Temple Grandin, stated that human interaction while in a shelter environment is very beneficial to dogs and reduces their stress levels. So, if you have ever thought, “I can’t go to the shelter, it’s too sad”, remember that: it might be sad for you, but it’s good for the dog…and likely makes them more adoptable. The less stressed animals are usually the ones wagging their tails and coming up for a sniff, and that openness is typically what appeals to humans. So, go visit, sit and chat with a dog (or cat!)….and you will be helping them in ways you probably didn’t think was possible. And, if you can, save your tears until you are back in your car.
If you can’t bring yourself to visit or volunteer because of the sadness (or the fear of wanting to bring them all home), know that there are ways you can help, always. If you are interested. If not, that’s fine. Everyone has their “thing”, this is mine. Adopt a shelter pet, don’t buy one. There are too many beautiful animals just waiting to be loved again. Donate treats, toys, $5 towards a spay or neuter. Share a picture I post on Facebook…..and, there will be lots more of those, so I hope you stick with me. I will gladly bring anything anyone wants to donate to the shelter. I will also gladly talk to anyone who wants to volunteer. I will also gladly talk to anyone who is thinking of buying a dog out of it 😉 Because, my new friend Sandy here is just a love, who likes fetch, knows  sit and knows a good lap when she sees one.


For Love of a Dog.


Today, we had to rush to the vet with Rocco. Thankfully, our vet’s office has open clinic hours on Saturdays, and though we had to wait a long time, it couldn’t be avoided. This morning he was bothering an area on his back right leg, where a small growth has been for a while. When he finally let me close enough to really look at it, I could see that it was red, swollen and bleeding a little. Seeing as Rocco is no spring chicken (he’s 11), I didn’t really feel like the trip to the vet could wait.
We made the 1/2 hour trip and took our place in the very long line of other drop-in patients. Rocco has a bad attitude towards other dogs on leash, so Paul and I took turns outside with him. I should mention that Paul, not I, dried Rocco off when he got really wet from the pouring rain. I was reminded again of what a good man I married. We were finally seen after about an hour and fifteen minutes and met quite the cast of characters along the way. During my stint in the waiting room, I befriended Kiwi, the barking-est Pomeranian on the planet, who was also incredibly sweet and Jack a 4 and a half month old pit bull puppy, whose  kissy- faced exuberance was interspersed with brief periods in the froggy-doggy position. We also shared the area with a gorgeous husky and the cutest little baby goat, who had a broken leg. Other than periods of crazy barking from the Pom (who was clearly in charge of making sure that whoever entered passed muster), for the most part, the waiting room maintained a pretty calm feel. That is, until the feral kittens arrived. Two women brought in a very large crate with 3 kittens and a small mama cat. The kittens were so freaked they were literally climbing the walls of the crate. The entrance of this little family changed the vibe and the husky went from seeming to want to just smell the goat’s butt to seeming to want her for dinner. The Pom and the Pit were straining to get at least a whiff of the kittens (who looked like the “Hang in there, baby” poster hanging from the wire) and these beautiful little kitties with the soft eyes let out devil hisses at anyone who came near them. They were not falling for the baby voiced humans, not at all. And, then…..the goat took a leak and a poop in quick succession right there in the waiting area and not to be beaten, the husky followed suit. The pit wanted to see what goat poop smelled like, so he was whining like a fool and all the while the Pom barked and barked and barked. Fortunately, everyone seemed to agree that this was all very funny and once the pee and poop were cleaned up, things calmed right back down. Shortly after, we were called back to see the vet, and honestly, that was the best wasted hour I have had in a long time.
Thankfully, it looks like the lump is no big deal. Rooco may have infected it by licking or biting at it, and the vet was hopeful that a course of antibiotics will do the trick. I pray that is so, because I have to admit that his age is always at the back of my mind and I don’t think I can handle anymore loss or sadness this year. Poor Savannah, who wore her furrowed brow when we left without her, was rewarded with a McDonald’s cheeseburger, the typical apres-vet treat around here. Rocco, of course, also got some french fries…..with a side of Cephalexin 😉