After six years of spending my Sunday morning volunteering at our local animal shelter you would be forgiven for thinking that I’d be ready for a break. It’s true that some Sunday mornings it is a struggle to get out of bed at 6am and it would be easy to roll over and go back to sleep, but those thoughts don’t last long because I love my Sundays. They keep me sane. It is hard to resist smiling at the little faces, boofy heads and wagging tails that greet you, they’re so excited because they know that it is their time for pats, walks and most importantly, breakfast. For a few dogs, the interaction with volunteers and staff is the kindest that they’ve ever had and being in a shelter is the safest place they have ever lived. Their stories will break your heart, you want to take them all home, save them and love them but it is just not possible. Thankfully there are good people out there who will adopt shelter dogs, some visit the shelter regularly looking for the right dog for them and their situation and others only ever adopt dogs from a shelter, returning when one has passed or if they feel ready to add a second dog to their family. I am grateful for those people, they know that taking home a dog without having the details of their past means that they may take time to settle. They understand that puppies require work and that training is an essential. Yes there are people who are clueless, they ignore the advice of shelter staff and they expect that a dog should be toilet trained, quiet and easy to walk without any effort. In time the dog returns to the shelter, for one reason or another. I would like to think that for the most part people do the right thing and I try not to focus on the cruel and the stupid because it makes me sad.
These are some of the wonderful creatures that I have been able to spend my Sundays with, most of them have been adopted and the others, well the staff and volunteers will keep on loving them until the right family comes along.
Mason had a hard life before finding his way to the shelter. A calm and sweet boy who loves to cuddle.
Wolfie puppy, one of a small litter.
Good mannered Paso the American Staffy X
A sweet little boy, Ranger was scooped up quickly by some lucky family.
Beautiful puppy Neo, she is going to be a big dog with her mastiff genes.
Red is a calm, well mannered senior dog. He is still waiting for his forever family which is hard to believe given his nature.
Benji loves to play fetch and destroy tennis balls.
Dear Captain had a hard start in life, at 3 years of age he looked more like 6 or 7 when he arrived. Thankfully, with lots of love and care he blossomed and quickly became a favourite with all the staff and volunteers.
Sweet Ella didn’t stay at the shelter long, such a smart and friendly girl.
Pretty and sweet was Daisy.
Jess the Boxer x was another favourite of staff and volunteers. A shy, gently girl who loved to cuddle and she had the cutest derp face.
Stella was the last of her litter to be adopted. We couldn’t understand it, she was sweet, placid and barked very little. We were happy when she was adopted after a few weeks at the shelter
Most Sundays you will find me at our local animal shelter, I volunteered originally as a dog walker but with so much to do, cleaning pens and feeding the dogs has also become part of my role. I love it! When I get home I am covered from head to toe in dog slobber, dirt, hair and poo and I stink, my own dogs don’t know where to start sniffing first. This morning I worked with one of the other volunteers to clean the row of pens containing lots of puppies and small dogs, trying to clean a pen filled with 8 week old puppies can be a challenge, they are like a swarm and follow my every move. At the moment there are six Shar Pei puppies waiting for their forever homes, they are the cutest, wrinklest, funniest little things and I couldn’t resist taking lots of photos as well as a rather shaky video – it is hard to film puppies when they insist on jumping all over you. Shar Peis aren’t for everyone, they’re high maintenance dogs thanks to a myriad of problems cause by their wrinkles, however, if you’re willing to put in the effort (and this really goes for all dogs) you will have a loyal friend for life.
I’ve always wanted to work with animals in some capacity, as a little girl I wanted to be a vet but then I discovered that science was not my friend and without it there was no chance of me becoming a vet. Growing up we always had animals around us, sheep, cows, horses, dogs, cats, ducks and chooks until I went to University and moved away from home. Now, as an adult with my own home, the void has been filled with two black dogs, Maxi the dalmatian cross and Bundy the staffordshire bull terrier cross. There is much joy in having a dog, they provide company, an exercise partner and plenty of laughs with their crazy antics. It is not all fun and games, you have to put in the time and effort to make them sociable, (reasonably) obedient and well behaved – it doesn’t just happen but it is well and truly worth the effort.
As much as I love and obsess over our two black dogs, there are lots of dogs out there that don’t have homes because their owners either don’t want them or can’t have them anymore. Don’t even get me started on the irresponsible dog owners who refuse to get their dog desexed so they keep roaming and procreating and voila! more unwanted dogs. Anyway, I’ve always been a fan of supporting animal welfare groups and our local shelter has an great volunteer program which provides people like me with the opportunity to walk dogs, cuddle cats, foster the young, sick and elderly and help with fund raising. Today was my first day as a volunteer dog walker and it was excellent, I walked dogs of all shapes and sizes and the affection and appreciation comes back at you in spades. It would be easy to walk away feeling depressed about all of the animals that live in the shelter and it is sad that they don’t all have forever homes, yet I walked away feeling good that I was able to help and that each dog I walked spent half an hour less locked in a kennel. My pants were covered in slobber, my t-shirt covered in dirty paw prints, our two black dogs sniffed me from head to toe when I got home and I can’t wait to go back an do it all again next weekend.