A Day with a Homeless Dog

A Day with a Homeless Dog

Monday, September 22, 2014

Long Time, No Blog...

It has been way too long! Without making too many excuses, I did move into a new house, I got married and I enjoyed an amazing honeymoon. Not to mention work has been busy and I recently took on the role as President of our Kansas City media organization, Media Mix. With all this craziness going on, it's no wonder that I skipped right past my first trimester and didn't realize I was pregnant until I reached 15 weeks...SURPRISE!!

Initially I was completely shocked, then terrified and finally excited. While I am figuring out what I am supposed to be doing, not doing and preparing for a huge life change, I am very concerned about my passion for volunteering with KC Pet Project. Honestly I have already had a couple of meltdowns, darn hormones! I have been consistently volunteering at the KCMO shelter for over 6yrs. I have seen it at its worse and now at its best. Being involved with Kansas City's homeless pets has had a huge impact on my life. My favorite day of the week is Sunday. It's the day I've dedicated to spend time with the homeless dogs that need some love and attention. I rarely miss a Sunday and feel guilty when I can't make it. I am constantly sharing their stories on social media, helping friends with their pet issues and connecting friends with their new best friend. I might be a little extreme, but it is what I love to do.

Today was a huge reality check for me. I was again reminded how important it is that I come volunteer. Way back in the day, dogs didn't get outside unless volunteers came to walk them, playgroups were not even a thought. There were many Sundays I would leave the shelter crying because all the dogs didn't get out for just a short walk. It was horrible walking past dogs that were barking at me to get them out, but I couldn't get to them all. These days, having playgroups has totally changed the life of a shelter dog at KCMO. Dogs get out and interact with other dogs. We get to learn so much about them and their personalities. This is why it is so important for there to be runners for playgroups to help ensure all the dogs get some outside time. Today I was the only runner :( What if I hadn't gone early today to help out? To think about all those dogs that might not have gotten out for some fresh air. It took us from about 830am to 11am to get the available dogs out for some playtime. If we would have had a couple more volunteers we could have finished up sooner and gotten out some dogs that needed more one on one time. I really want to encourage volunteers to try out playgroups. It's an early morning activity so you can be back home and still enjoy most of your day. It's really pretty easy and knowing you helped those dogs get some fun time with friends is priceless. Check out this short video to see just how fantastic playgroups are and I am sure you will want to help...

I also make sure that all new dogs get photos taken on Sunday. I have been lucky enough to have a backup here when I can't make it. I do make it my goal to be there and not miss any new dogs. I mark the boards so the volunteers know which dogs to take out, I check with staff if I can't find a dog and I try my best to get bio sheets filled out on each of the new dogs. Again this is another easy way to volunteer. You really just have to run the dogs to the photographers and they do all the hard work. Then you get some one on one time with them and can enjoy their company. I do love photographs and being able to meet the new dogs and learn their story. I try to share them on social media when I meet them in hopes someone will fall in love like I usually do :-) Again this is an important part of my weekly volunteer work and the thought of not being there makes me sad.

When I left today all dogs hadn't gotten out for a walk. I put in almost 6 hours of volunteering and still wished I could have done more. I know this is just volunteer work, but it would be so great to see more faces at the shelter pitching in. Life can get busy, but the animals, staff and fellow volunteers would love to have some more help on site at the shelter.

My life is so flexible now and this whole having a baby thing will make it a lot harder. I am almost 18 weeks pregnant and plan to continue my volunteer routine as long as I can. I really want to encourage volunteers to try and make some time for the shelter animals. I know that will be my goal once this life changing baby comes along. Until then...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Leo: Shelter Life vs Foster Home

Dogs are amazing, especially my man Leo. Yes it is another blog about Leo and he continues to prove to me why I will never give up on him. Maybe you have read my previous blog about him and maybe you haven't. What you need to know is that all dogs deserve a chance and Leo most of all.

To make a long story short, Leo became a resident of the Kansas City Animal Shelter back on February 13th, 2013. He was just a young guy at 9 months old. All we knew is that he was abandoned and he would become a KC Pet Project dog. He grew up in the shelter environment for over a year. 

What we learned from Leo while he was a KC Pet Project dog:
  • His stress levels where high early on and he was easily aroused.
  • He didn't have any basic obedience training.
  • He did enjoy playing with other dogs, but his high energy and rowdy play style did overwhelm some dogs.
  • Leashing him and getting him out of the kennel was a task that was difficult for some volunteers.
  • He did not walk well on the leash, pulled hard and had to be harnessed.
  • He was very mouthy both when playing with other dogs and biting on the leash during walks.
  • He was jumpy and did not know how to greet people properly.
  • He showed signs of resource guarding.

I had experienced most of those behaviors with Leo. Yes leashing him up was often difficult. He wanted to be outside so bad. I always had to harness him during walks and would bring a rope toy sometimes so he could hold on to a toy while we walked. I did get him to sit, but he does like to jump up when he gets excited. He does love playing with other dogs and that is probably his favorite part of the day. He is great at fetch as long as you have two tennis balls. He did get a little mouthy once or twice when I had the ball.

Shelter life will make a dog crazy. Leo needed one on one attention, someone to work with him and who could be patient. Adopters constantly passed by his kennel. He wasn't a good fit for someone with small children and he really needed someone who was dedicated to training him and giving him the physical and mental stimulation he needed.

Fast forward to Apri1 1, 2014. Leo finds his angel! Audrey, a KC Pet Project volunteer, took on the task of bringing Leo into her home. We needed someone to find out how much his behavior could improve if he was in a home environment. I don't know if she knew what she was getting herself into, but I am so glad she said yes to Leo. I have been getting updates and I know the first couple of days Audrey second guessed her decision, but the many volunteers supporting #TeamLeo encouraged her to stick with it and I know she is glad she did.

What we have learned from Leo while in his foster home:
  • He has shown no signs of food aggression. Audrey can take away the kong, his food and doesn't have a problem.
  • He has improved leaps and bounds with his leash manners. He has is moments, but for the most part it is a loose leash.
  • He has become far more patient. He will sit and stay and has learned to lay down. He doesn't jump to take the treat or toy from your hand. He is getting better with this every day.
  • He can actually be calm and lay down and just relax. He is not so aroused and stressed.
  • He sleeps with his foster mom in the bed at night and he is a big cuddle bug.
  • He pretty much hates being kenneled and it takes some effort, but he will go in with some work.
  • There is still work to be done with his jumping and mouthing. She is working with him so he can learn how to greet properly.

Audrey has become dedicated to helping Leo become a more adoptable dog. She has fallen in love with his cute face and wrinkly forehead. She wants him to succeed just as I do. We are both very determined to find him a place where he can continue his training. Maybe it is a rescue group who can help him even more with the one on one training. Maybe there is an adopter out there who can continue improving his behavior and work with him. We both want what is best for Leo. He has waited far too long and now that he has began to show improvements in a foster home, we want to see it through.

I write these blogs because I care about every dog I meet. Leo has a piece of my heart and I can't say thank you enough to all the staff and volunteers who WILL NOT give up on him. He has what it takes to be an awesome dog, who will give him the life he deserves?

Friday, March 21, 2014

One on One Doggie Time!

There are so many ways to volunteer with KC Pet Project. One of the most important of course is just walking the dogs and working with them one on one. It isn't very often that I really get to focus on one dog and really get to know them. Most Sundays I am there organizing photos to make sure all the new dogs get photographed by a professional. In between I might be helping other volunteers or potential adopters. I am always running around trying to get as much done as possible. I have also been trying to get to the shelter early so I can help with playgroups. It is such an important part of volunteering. I love making sure as many dogs as possible get outside to play in the morning so they are more relaxed in their kennels when potential adopters come through. It is a race to get them all out, and honestly I meet them I know their names, but I don't get that one on one time to really understand their personality. Today was a little different.

It was so great to see four ladies helping run dogs to Leslie during Sunday morning playgroups. I decided to get some one on one time with the dogs that don't do so well with playgroups. These dogs might be best as the only pet, or they may do much better with dogs once they're out of the shelter environment. Either way, I wanted to spend the day getting to know these dogs and let them have a good time outside with me. If you click their picture you can see a video of our time together.

Fresca is SO SWEET and so adorable. She actually arrived at the shelter back in December, and I am sad that I didn't get to know her until now. Looking back at her photos she looks shy and scared, but this girl is far from that. She also seems to have gained some weight (she could still use a few extra pounds). We went outside to play and she had fun. She would take laps around the yard and then come back to check in. She sat for treats and was so gentle. Fresca took in all the attention I gave her and leaned in for more loving. She is a great dog and I hope someone sees how wonderful she is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAeJySNBbxY&list=UUC0_xTL7sgVRniPAfeALGwAKona! What a handsome little boy. He has spunk, personality, and energy. I could tell while watching him in his kennel that he might be a handful. He was ready to jump out from the top kennel =) Good thing he is only 35lbs! He is totally fun. I think the kennel is just stressing this boy out and he wants to be with people. He came right up for more attention, and loves to run around and play with the toys. I couldn't get him to sit because he was a little distracted, but I know he wants to learn. I hated putting him back in his kennel, he's such a sweet little guy. I hope that adopters take some time with him outside of the shelter to see how cool this dude really is.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aH1IsdCk1tc&list=UUC0_xTL7sgVRniPAfeALGwATango looks tough, but this guy is a cool dog. His athletic build and cropped ears might make him look a little intimidating, but he is a sweet boy. He listened really well and did great at ignoring the rowdy dog in the play yard next to him. Tango wanted my treats and sat for me. He ran for the tennis ball and then played with every other toy he could find. He has a lot of good things going for him, and although he might be best as the only pet it would be totally worth it. I am pulling for him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKJJ5UM6jeU&list=UUC0_xTL7sgVRniPAfeALGwAFaster than a speeding Bullet? That is not how this guy got his name. Bullet actually came to the shelter with a bullet lodged in his neck, close to his ear. He is pretty amazing and so is the vet staff at KCPP. They were able to remove it and Bullet didn't seem to be fazed by it all. He is a pretty awesome boy and funny too. He LOVES any and all toys. He goes straight for the toy box and picks out every toy to play with. He loves to see how fast he can shred the stuffed toys. He loves to roll down the turf and scratch his back too. If you are looking for entertainment, Bullet is your man. He is strong and beefy, but is easy peasy when it comes to play time. He can entertain himself with all the toys. I really hope someone will consider this big guy. The volunteers love his personality and can't wait to see him in a happy home.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjcwW_EO9Lw&list=UUC0_xTL7sgVRniPAfeALGwAI fell IN LOVE with Kennedy. This precious girl will melt your heart. Her gentle eyes and sweet face are just too much. She prefers to be close to you and getting loved on as much as possible. Her sweet spot is under her neck, you could scratch and massage her for hours and she is one happy girl. She sits and I heard she is an angel in the car. Kennedy would be perfect for someone that is looking for a best friend that she can spend her days with. Naps on the couch, cuddle time while watching TV, car rides on a nice summer day. This girl is too great to pass up!

It was really a great day on Sunday. Being able to focus on one dog and giving them that attention they need. Dogs just want to be loved and I am so glad I spent the extra time getting to know these dogs. I will share their videos and pictures in hopes that someone will see them and adopt these special pups.