A Day with a Homeless Dog

A Day with a Homeless Dog

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

One Dog at a Time

OVERWHELMING, the one word most used to describe the KCMO shelter.  The number of dogs is overwhelming, the barking dogs is overwhelming, the smell of 150+ dogs in one big room is overwhelming.  It is the feeling I get as I am driving to the shelter, wondering, how many volunteers will be there to help me.  After almost 4 years it is a feeling that is still there and probably won't ever go away.  

It was just this past Sunday that I became overwhelmed before I even left the house.  I only knew of one other volunteer who had confirmed she would be at the shelter to help (I can always count on Natalie).  That was two volunteers to try and walk at least 80 dogs, two volunteers to help the photographer get pictures of all the newest dogs up for adoption.  We would both be helping potential adopters and I knew at that point all the dogs weren't going to get out for a walk that day.  I felt overwhelmed having to choose which dogs I was going to pick and which ones I would pass up while they look at me with those eyes, telling me to pick them.  I hate that feeling and unfortunately it happens more than I want it to. 

I arrive at the shelter and Natalie has already started, it is always so nice to see people who have the same passion you do.  I grab my leash and despite my overwhelming feeling, I am happy I am there to help and give attention to the dogs.  The multiple dogs in the stacked cages all turn when they see the door open and my five hour volunteer shift has begun - One Dog at a Time...   

I constantly remind myself to focus on the one dog I am spending time with.  Learn his/her name, get to know their personality, give them the attention they have never had or are missing since arriving at the shelter.  Then I come across the first dog I picked; a potential adopter is interested in Nicole, a young Boxer/Lab mix.  She is shaking in her kennel, tail tucked as far under as she can get it and is hesitant to let me get her out.  Here comes that feeling again, not only for me, but for Nicole.  She is overwhelmed by all the other dogs and is nervous to trust me.  Once we get her outside, Nicole's personality completely changes.  The woman looking at her seems to instantly bond, taking her on a walk and cuddling her.  Fingers crossed, Nicole might just be getting a home...            
It didn't happen on Sunday for Nicole unfortunately, but just this past Tuesday, Nicole was on the adopted list.  She had found her people and she wasn't going to have to feel overwhelmed in the shelter any longer.

The day continued, one dog at a time.  I met so many fantastic dogs, all worthy of a wonderful home.  More volunteers showed up and we were able to help each other out, sharing stories of the dogs we were walking, working together one dog at a time.  We were able to get all 30+ dogs a fantastic professional photograph.  More dogs got outside to play than I expected and I was able to get 7 new videos of dogs that are available for adoption.

It was nice to see that despite the overwhelming feeling that most of us had, we all STILL came out to volunteer.  I understand it is hard and stressful and sad, but if we don't come out to volunteer, who will?  These dogs deserve the smallest amount of time we can give to show them love and attention.  If we all work together, support each other, it doesn't always have to be so sad and overwhelming.  How do we get more volunteers to stay involved and help each other out, so the same volunteers aren't always there feeling those feelings?

Please just remember this - it is one dog at a time!  
I can't share this quote enough - "The kindness one does for an animal may not change the world...but IT WILL change the world for that one animal!"        

Let's all continue to work together and help support our homeless animals and each other.  Please consider volunteering at the KCMO animal shelter!

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