A Day with a Homeless Dog

A Day with a Homeless Dog

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Letter from Leo

To my forever family...

Leo is such a happy boy!
I know you are out there somewhere and you just haven't found me yet. My name is Leo and I have been waiting a very long time to meet you, 10 months to be exact. I arrived at the shelter back on February 13th, when I was just 9 months old. If you did the math, you can see that I have been living at the KCMO shelter for more than half my life. It has been a long wait and my wish this Christmas is to finally find you.


Leo when he first arrived 2/13/13
I am not exactly sure what happened with my first home.  One day my owners decided to leave me with the neighbors and they were going to come back for me. After a few weeks the neighbor realized they weren't coming back and she had to find another place for me. I don't think I did anything wrong, but I was just a pup. I guess I would rather be at the shelter where people will take care of me and volunteers will spend time with me. The shelter labeled me as a Pit bull, Chinese Shar-Pei mix. Sounded good to me until I found out that lots of places have a ban against Pit bull mixes. Doesn't seem fair, but I guess that is how it goes. I was pretty confident that someone would find me and love me even if I was a Pit bull mix.

When I first arrived the trainer did an evaluation on my behavior to make sure I was adoptable. It was apparent that I had a lot of energy. Since I was so young, I didn't really have any manners and didn't know any basic commands. I jumped up to greet, I took treats roughly and had a hard time focusing. Since I wasn't aggressive and didn't have any issues with guarding my food or toys, I passed the test. The trainers made a note to make sure and let anyone who adopted me understand my needs and high energy.

I have to tell you it has been really hard for me to adjust to shelter life. A guy like me, with high energy, absolutely needs daily exercise and an outlet for my energy. I was invited to try playgroups when I first arrived and from the very beginning the staff could see how stressed I was. In the kennel I was constantly jumping and barking at people. Out in playgroups I was overwhelming dogs with my rough and rowdy play style. I wasn't focusing and my arousal was always so high. Everyone, including myself, was hoping I would find a home sooner than later.

Leo showing off at Zona Rosa
Unfortunately the shelter is always full and there are lots of dogs that need attention. I am one of those dogs that really needs more one on one attention. It can be hard at an open access shelter to get that one on one attention and help that I needed. The staff decided to choose me to go up to the Zona Rosa location. I was hoping this would be my shot to finding a forever home. Less dogs to choose from, more daily walks and one on one time! My hopes were high and the Zona volunteers were going to have their hands full with this guy.

Leo's adoption picture
Oct 19th was the day I won't forget. The shelter was having a huge Mega Match-a-thon and after 3 weeks of being at Zona, I found someone who understood me and my needs. I don't know what it was, but the tone of his voice got my attention. The staff and volunteers were surprised to see how responsive I was with this guy and his son. I was a happy boy. Finally some one noticed me. I know the staff and volunteers were as happy as I was to finally find a home.

Well, I wouldn't be writing this letter if that was my happily ever after. Not even a week later I found myself back at the shelter. IT WAS NOT MY FAULT! I guess the landlord didn't want me to stay. I don't know if it was because of my breed, but you can imagine how disappointed I am. Now I am back at the main shelter, stressed and frustrated!

Yes I am a high energy dog, I have high arousal which makes it hard for me to focus. I am getting more stressed and nervous the longer I am here. I can play with other rough and rowdy dogs, but the staff thinks it would be good for me to be the only pet in the beginning. I really need all the attention to help with my mental and physical health. I know I might be a lot to handle, but please hear me when I say I want nothing more than a home for Christmas. Do you know anyone who could help me? Maybe you could share my story for me. It might help me finally get my happily ever after. Thank you!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

What about Ringo?

How long does it take for a dog to find their perfect match? Some dogs seem to find their forever home in a matter of hours after becoming available, those dogs are called puppies. There are some dogs that don't even last a week or two, those are our smaller breed dogs. Then there are dogs who sit at a shelter waiting and hoping and looking for months and months, those are usually are precious Pit bulls. As a volunteer it is very frustrating to see your favorite dog week after week sitting their just waiting to be adopted. For Ringo it has been 8 months! This is really shocking to lots of us since Ringo continues to become a better dog each week the staff and volunteers work with him. There are so many reasons to love this handsome boy and hopefully by the end of the blog people will be thinking of making him a part of their family...

Is Ringo good with kids?
The biggest, most important question people ask us is are our dogs good with kids. Lucky for us Ringo has been out at adoption events and has had plenty of dog days out. Ringo loves the attention, there were moments he would be mobbed by kids and Ringo just soaked it all in. What about the kids? They seemed to love Ringo just as much. He rolls over and lays to get the pets in his favorite spot - the belly =) For all those families out there, Ringo has been kid approved!

What is Ringo's energy level?
We have learned there are two sides to Ringo - the shelter, high energy level and the at home, can be relaxed energy level. Ringo, like most dogs, need daily exercise and activities to keep him from being bored. In the shelter, people can be turned off by his high energy level in his kennel. He is a rough and rowdy player with other dogs and with all the stimulation it can sometimes make it hard for him to focus. He is such a fun guy and trying to show how amazing this boy really is can be difficult. 
Lucky for Ringo, he has his buddy, Eric Gilbert who has been taking him home so you can see there is another side of Ringo when he is at home with his own people. He is relaxed, he loves to cuddle, he listens and is learning to be patient. Eric has been working with him on many basic commands. He is learning to sit and stay. He has been helping him with his leash skills, the leave it command and sharing. Eric can't say enough amazing things about this boy and is offering 3 free training sessions to anyone who adopts this handsome boy. 

Does Ringo play with other dogs?
Ringo? Other dogs? ABSOLUTELY! Ringo is a star in playgroups. He has lots and lots of friends and loves to play with other dogs. In playgroups at the shelter he hangs out with the rough and rowdy players. On his dog days out he loves hanging out and hiking with his dog friends.  He can play with the rough and rowdy or the small guys and his favorite game is to let the other dogs chase him. He has been a perfect gentleman with the smaller dogs and would really do great in a home with medium energy dogs. Ringo would love if if you had a dog friend for him to play with. Check him out in this video with a couple of his friends...


 Ringo wanted to leave you with a little note about himself...

Hello, Hello! Did you notice my amazing hazel eyes? My name is Ringo and my stunning good looks are just the beginning of my wonderful attributes. This boy absolutely loves the water. My favorite part of the day is going out for morning play groups with other dogs. There are small pools for me to jump around in and chomp at the water. My best dog friends are the rough and rowdy ones. I can sometimes be a little too much for other dogs, they can't handle all of this. The trainers say I get better and better each time and I continue to show more interest in people. They say I am one of their favorites and love to show me off to potential adopters. I have finally realized the people are the ones who are going to give me a good home and make sure I enjoy life. I am ready for adventure and fun, I am hoping there is a family out there with big area for me to play in. I have been waiting for way to long and I am pretty sure it is my turn to find a home. Come check me out so you can see how fun I am, we could be best buds for life. Ringo arrived Mar 25th. He is almost a year and a half, about 55lbs and was picked up as a stray.


Look how much Ringo has learned - Training Commands & Proficiency
Sit - 100% - upward hand
Drop it - 90% - used to drop a toy or item, 100% with treat exchange
Leave it - 90% - used to leave item on floor or table alone - treat, toy, food bowl etc
Come - recall, 100% in backyard, home, about 70% on a hike with a long lead
Stay - 70%, within 5 feet, over 10 feet away and walking behind 50%
Hup - 100% up into a car, couch etc
Off -75% down from an area or if he jumps up on a person or item
Stop - 50%, used to make stop prior to exiting a door or forward progress
Leash Training - 75%, when he pulls too much, use "Easy" and a little yank on lead and he slows up. With easy-walk harness 90%.
Down - 20% still working
Egh/Nope - No reward marker sound. If he's doing something you don't like

Ringo really is becoming an amazing dog. He is loving, friendly and just a happy boy! The ideal home for him would be an active family, people who will show him love and let him cuddle. A family who will show him off and let everyone know how amazing Pit bull mixes are. Ringo is a great dog and whoever adopts him will be a very lucky family. Let's not make him wait another 8 months!  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

What a difference a photo makes...

A good photo documents, explains, entices, inspires, and even has the power to save lives. I can't say enough amazing things about the professional photographers that come to KC Pet Project every weekend to take pictures of our homeless pets.  Each of them are able to capture the personalities of each animal and that ultimately connects them with adopters.  

Volunteering with the photographers is one of my favorite things to do at the shelter. Each weekend I am meeting the new faces and getting learn a little about them, their personality and their past. Just by reading their kennel cards I can find out how the ended up becoming homeless; were they abandoned, found as a stray, surrendered by their owners? The minute I meet them I get a sense of their personality.  For some of them it will be their first day outside since their 5 day stray hold and they are excited about the fresh air and grass on their feet. Other dogs are completely confused with the new environment and look to me for guidance.  There are some dogs that are completely shut down because they are used to their home and their owners; the only way I can get them outside is by carrying them.  Every weekend it is new dogs with new stories and I get to help tell their story with the photographer.

Wild Wendall doing his best to not get photographed!
I have to say that sometimes these dogs make it incredibly difficult for us. We have squeakers, treats, we clap our hands and jump up and down. Sometimes we have another dog right behind the photographer to get their attention. Kasi Orr with Reames Photography, is a master with those high energy pups that don't sit still. She doesn't mess around and isn't afraid to get dirty or move around for the right shot. She is always willing to help me update photos for dogs who have been at the shelter for so long.  Wild Wendall has such a spunky attitude and Kasi helped get that across in a variety of pictures. She has been an amazing asset to the KCMO animal shelter and I can't imagine not having her as a volunteer photographer. She knows how to have a good time and is patient with every volunteer and dog she photographs - we are so lucky to have her.

Kokomo confused and nervous, looking for love.
Their are those dogs that are the complete opposite of Wendall. I have literally fought back tears trying to hold these babies to stop them from shaking. I will never forget one of Kaye Ness' first sessions at the shelter. She is an amazing lady with a heart of gold. I knew after I met her that day that she was a keeper and would help us get these dogs the photographs they need. She met Kokomo, a Lab/Shepherd mix that was so nervous and scared. It was almost impossible to get her to relax and stop shaking. As soon as the pictures were edited, Kaye spread the word about Kokomo and how she needed a loving home. It didn't take long when Kaye finally decided to take her into her home to help her gain the confidence she needed along with providing lots of love. The best ending to this story is that Kokomo, now Princess, was adopted by our other photographer, Kasi Orr. She has made her a permanent part of the family and Princess is living happily ever after.

Grady showing off his sophisticated side.
The most fun we have with our photographers is dressing up the dogs. Nothing too crazy, just a little bow for the girls or maybe a tie for the boys. The most memorable would have to be Grady. Chad Ackerman saw this boys personality the second he met him. Grady was an older boy and quite the gentleman. He was mature and so debonair as you can see in his picture. The hat and tie was seen around the area on a promo flyer for an adoption special. I don't think it took a day and someone came to adopt this handsome man. Chad really gives the dogs personality by adding small little touches. A recent Halloween photo shoot proved to be a success for lots of our favorite longtimers. We are lucky to have him and the volunteer support to get these photos.

Along with the three photographers above, we have a few others that dedicate their time to both the dogs and cats. I have spent the majority of my time with Kasi, Kaye and Chad. I encourage all the volunteers to take a weekend day and help out with the photographs. It is an easy thing to do with kiddos as well. They can participate with helping get the dogs attention and even being a part of the photo to show how great the dog might be with kids. The photo sessions don't take long when we have the help, 2 hours tops. It is a way to meet the new pups and help share their stories.  Photography is a powerful tool. The photos are literally life saving for many of our animals. The sharing of these photos has helped multiple dogs and cats find forever homes. 

I will leave you with a few of my favorite photos of me and dogs that have melted my heart. Please consider volunteering and helping with photos, again it is literally LIFE SAVING!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Love-A-Bull, Hug-A-Bull, Kiss-A-Bull!!!

Pit bulls often make up 50% of the resident dogs at the KCMO shelter.  This blog will hopefully give some insight into why and what we can do to help this breed.  There are so many things I want people to know: How they got such a bad reputation, What BSL is and why it’s not effective, how mistreated they are, how backyard breeding of Pit bulls is creating an overpopulation, and how incredibly cute, handsome, loyal, and loving they are. This list goes on, but there are some important things that I want to share and I hope people will pass on...

Did you know that Pit bull is actually not a breed:
The term "pit bull" encompasses many breeds and mixes, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Bull Terrier.
American Pit bull Terrier
There is a huge range of breed mixes that are commonly identified as "bully breeds" or "pit bull-type dogs". Many dogs entering shelters with unknown backgrounds are identified as "pit bull type dogs" and can be a mix of these breeds, as well as a variety of other types such as bulldogs or mastiff breeds. There is no such thing as a "pure bred" pit bull.
Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Terrier

The reason this is so important is because Pit bulls are judged and discriminated against ALL THE TIME. People are judging an entire group of dogs: all three of the purebred dogs, many purebred dogs with similar physical qualities such as the American Bulldog or the Cane Corso Mastiff, and then also including in this group are NUMEROUS mix-breed dogs that resemble either the American Pit bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Terrier or the Bull Terrier.  If we take any dog with a large square head, stocky chest, semi-straight tail, docked OR floppy ears and/or other “Pit bull” characteristics that is a LOT of dogs. There is simply a LOT of dogs out there that can be called “Pit bulls”.

The media is effecting what society thinks about Pit bulls and are doing it on purpose:
The media has helped create a bad reputation for Pit bulls in many different ways. The media is constantly creating a belief that Pit bulls attack more than any other breed of dog.  They continue to only report Pit bull attacks. These attacks are nationwide news making it in to hundreds of newspapers and on nationwide broadcasts. If a Lab or a Golden Retriever attacks it might make it into a news story.  This clearly leads the public to believe that Pit bulls are attacking all the time while no other dogs are.

The media also adds to this by always putting the words “Pit bull” and “Attack” together in the headline.  When people see “Pit bull Attacks” in the headlines they don’t even have to read the rest of the story. They already have an opinion in their head. Once they see it enough times, you start to think that all Pit bulls attack all the time. 

Breed Restriction Legislation (BSL) is absolutely ridiculous:
Breed Specific Legislation is legislation and rules about specific breeds of dogs thought to be “Dangerous Breeds”. This is often directed at Pit bulls and when BSL is in force there can be complete BANS on Pit bulls in entire cities or even states.  REMEMBER - there is no actual Pit bull breed. The word Pit bull describes many dogs with different genetic backgrounds that have similar physical characteristics.

SO...these cities have put in place a blanket ban on Pit bulls to make people feel "safer" in their communities. They don't look at how a dog acts, how a dog is treated, or how responsible their owners are.  Instead they ban an entire GROUP of dogs that may or may not have similar behavioral characteristics, but do have similar looks.  So who decides if a dog is a Pit bull or not if it is based on looks...

This is a huge problem because it gives animal control and city legislators free reign to decide whether your dog is a Pit bull or not.  The biggest problem of all is they aren't targeting the criminals and the bad dog owners. Criminals and bad dog owners continue what they are doing while good, responsible dog owners are faced with either moving, finding a home for their dog outside of the BSL jurisdiction, or hiding their dog knowing that they’re risking the dog being confiscated (like a piece of property) to possibly be put down.

BSL is a ban on Pit bulls that doesn’t really look at what the problems are. Irresponsible backyard breeders with un-altered males and females living together are a problem. Owners that keep their dogs chained and tethered their entire lives are a problem. Dog fighters are a problem. Drug dealers and criminals who have no idea what it really means to own a dog are a problem. BSL makes people “feel safer” but are they?

To find out if your city has a ban, you can check out this website:

Backyard breeders have created a Pit bull overpopulation:
There are SO many Pit bull type dogs in shelters these days and many of them don't make it out alive. This is partly because of breed specific legislation and partly because every irresponsible Pit bull owner on earth seems to think that they need to have Pit bull puppies to make a couple bucks.  Did you know there are some shelters that euthanize Pit bulls the second after they walk through the door. They are not allowed to adopt out Pit bulls therefore they immediately put them down. Thank goodness this is NOT the case at KCMO!

All of the backyard breeding increases this overpopulation problem and continues the mix-breeding of Pit bulls, since remember, there are no purebred Pit bulls. Because of their size and typical good health Pit bull type dogs tend to have a lot of puppies, often as many as TEN puppies in one litter! Because Pit bulls are often bred by inexperienced people and irresponsible owners, females may be bred too young and too often, and the puppies likely won’t get de-wormed or be given any vaccines. Then they are sold to people who will continue the process. 

If people would adopt Pit bull type dogs from the shelters, instead of buying them from backyard breeders, we could decrease the numbers of Pit bulls euthanized every day (2800 Pit bulls are euthanized a day) and maybe this would give backyard breeders less of an incentive to keep breeding.   Also, Pit bulls adopted from shelters are already spayed or neutered, so even if an owner is irresponsible and lets their dog roam or the owner thinks that having puppies would be fun the adopted dog CAN’T reproduce.

Pit bulls are wonderful loving dogs and deserve a second chance:

One very important characteristic of a Pit bull, is their amazing love of people. 
They are companion animals who have enhanced the lives of many through their devoted people-loving natures, bravery, and intelligence.  They love physical affection and attention and are eager to please.  With the right owner a Pit bull can be the most loyal and loving dog in the world.

If you bring a Pit bull into your life, you’re taking on a big responsibility. Many people have never met a Pit bull. As a responsible Pit bull parent, you have the power to educate the public and change people’s minds about this misunderstood breed. The best way to accomplish this is to have a well-controlled, well-socialized, well-behaved dog at your side.  If you’re knowledgeable about the breed, you can help people understand what great dogs Pit bulls can be.  There are resources everywhere.  We really need people to step up and learn more about this breed and understand them.  Laws need to be changed.  Please check out the below and make yourself knowledgeable about Pit bulls.  Help these dogs get the second chance they deserve...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Deserving Dogs...

ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY...150 days. Can you imagine how frustrated and stressed a dog might become after being in a shelter for over 5 months?  These four dogs arrived at the KCMO shelter back in 2012.  They all have their own personalities and characteristics that make them wonderful dogs.  What they all have in common is they have become frustrated and aren't showing well in their kennels.  Their behavior in the kennels can be intimidating to potential adopters and they are just passing them by.  There is a perfect family for each of these dogs and they are more than deserving of a new home.  To help these dogs and the new adopters, a generous donor will sponsor training classes for each of these four dogs!!!  I am hoping this blog will give more people insight into how great these four are and will help them find homes.

**Awesome Avery, 1-3 yr old Boxer Mix**

October 2nd, more than 7 months ago, Avery was brought to the shelter as a stray.  Avery is a good medium sized dog, around 40lbs. Her breed is a boxer mix, but it would be very interesting to see what a DNA test would classify her as. Avery has always been a little stiff when she sees other dogs. There has been a time or two when the staff at KCPP has been able to match her up with another dog.  There was a short time that Avery was brought into a foster home, but unfortunately the dog in the home was not a match with Avery.  Ideally we would want Avery to be the only pet in the home.

There is a lot of stimulation for the dogs at the shelter and Avery has a tough time connecting with adopters when they first meet her. She wants to see everything that is going on and explore her environment.  She has a fun personality and will play and let you love on her, but it takes some time. She has done nothing to make the staff feel she would be bad with kids - she has a soft mouth, she does not care about offered treats (candy, nuts, hot dogs, anything), and she is not toy motivated.  Obviously any potential adopter would want to bring kids or other pets that would be sharing a home with Avery to see if it is a match.  Avery does have heart worms. Thankfully the shelter has great donors and there will be financial assistance to help with her treatment.  Please watch the below video to see her personality in action and click Avery's picture to read her bio and learn more about her...


**Amazing Anastasia, 1-3 yr old Pit Bull Mix** 

It is really hard to be a black dog in a shelter, let alone a black pit bull. Anastasia arrived at the shelter on Oct 23rd as a public drop off.  7 months ago, Anastasia was a healthy 50lbs and enjoying life.  Anastasia's kennel behavior is very upsetting to most of us volunteers.  She stresses herself out and you rarely see her relaxed.  She has lost some weight because of it.  The staff has been able to move her around to help lower her stress level, but the shelter is just not a place for a girl like Ana.  She has become a volunteer favorite to so many and has a special place in our hearts.  Lucky for Ana, a volunteer brings her home for a dogs day out once a week.  You wouldn't believe it was the same dog...

"Anastasia is well behaved when she comes home with me. Completely potty trained, no doubt. She doesn't really bark. I have to keep her in her own room because Large Marge is such a sassy female dog, although we do walk together; me with Ana and my husband with Marge and they do quite well. She is not destructive or crazy in her room and is very receptive and reciprocating to any attention. She picked up on the Pit Bull EDU so quickly especially considering she doesn't live with me. She needs to be able to express her loving side and just can't do it in the shelter setting. I think being classified as a Pit really sucks for her because she lacks the desirable Pit traits, like the stocky compact body. She is more a ballerina than a bully breed. Hopefully the new pics will help her out.  I love this dog and I know she would be such a great and faithful companion. She is such a good girl, she loves the rubbery squeakies and likes to play fetch with them. I think since she is plain and black and poopy and she has just been neglected."

If we could just get potential adopters to see past her kennel behavior I think she would have a chance.  The kennel life has just frustrated her, like many other dogs.  We are all routing for her and cheering her on, hoping that someday soon she will find that perfect match she has been waiting for! 
Click on Ana's picture to read her bio and watch her true personality below!  


**Wonderful Wendall, 5 yr old Pit Bull Mix**

Oh Wendall, we love him so.  This mature looking brindle boy came to the shelter back on Nov. 6th.  We were all shocked at the spunk and personality this guy had.  He is definitely one to watch when you get him out of his kennel.  He can't wait to smell that fresh air and play!  Wendall came to the shelter as a cruelty case.  He was found tied up and know one seemed to know who he belonged to.  Wendall's new home became the shelter.  It was obvious that someone worked with him.  The trainer on staff says, "Wendall is the most trained dog in the shelter. He knows sit, down, roll over, etc,"  You read it right, a handsome brindle PIT BULL is the most trained dog at the shelter.  We think that helped him find a home originally back in February.  A nice family who adopted a Pit bull from KCMO previously, came to find a companion and Wendall seemed to be the perfect fit.  The introduction between the two dogs went well and they fell in love with him just like all of us volunteers.  We were super happy for the boy, but as you can see he is back with us now.

The family was able to give us some information that will help us in finding Wendall he next home that will be the right fit.  Wendall can be pretty dominant with other dogs and after months of being at the shelter it is decided that Wendall be an only dog home.  He is a smart boy and is eager to learn and would do best with older children.  His first adopters had a one year old who wanted to be friendly with Wendall.  Wendall prefers to not be manhandled by toddlers and likes the respect older kids can give him =)  At the shelter, Wendall shoots out of his kennel like a blast, but he is a very fun and happy dog when he gets to the play yards. He will play "throw the ball" in the air and is very loving. He really loves a back rub too!  We would really like to see this handsome man find someone who wants to keep his mind working and give him attention and exercise daily.  Click Wendall's photo to read his bio and watch how cute he is below...

**Studly Gavin, 1 yr old Pit Bull Mix**

We are all still wondering why this handsome boy hasn't found a home yet.  Gavin arrived at the shelter back on Dec 17th as a stray boy.  He has the fun personality, he is playful and he is so studly looking with his brindle coat and cute ears.  Gavin serious face in the pictures is usually because he is focusing on a treat that he is waiting to get.  He is a great listener and will do what he can for attention.  He will be your best friend as long as you keep a supply of bones or if you give him a Nylabone and he's good to go!!!

Unfortunately, his kennel behavior isn't that great just like the others.  This boy is eager to get your attention so you will let him get outside for some fresh air.  You can usually see him throwing around his food or water bowl, silly boy!  Gavin does need to be an only pet, but he loves people of all ages and sizes. He is a very sweet boy that loves to play and chew on bones and Kongs.  He is a spunky dog who just needs the exercise and attention to keep him happy and thriving.  Volunteers have said, "He is also very smart. When you come to his cage with the leash he waits to be leashed and then jumps out of his cage. When he is done in the play yard and ready to get back to his bone he waits at the gate. When you take him in he tries to jump into his kennel but needs a little help."  This young boy has a lot of life ahead of him and we are desperately wanting it to be in a fantastic home.  He truly has a lot to offer and would make anyone's day better.  Click Gavin's picture to read his bio and watch how great he is at sitting below...

All of these dogs have so much to offer.  The staff at KC Pet Project makes sure these dogs get out daily for exercise and stimulation.  The best place for these dogs is a loving home where they can get  more of that attention and training to make them the dogs that we know they can be.  Please share their stories, they are ready and waiting for their forever home!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Favorite Volunteer, Andrew

There is literally not a day that goes by that I am not involved with volunteering for the Kansas City Animal Shelter.  On a daily basis I am supporting our homeless dogs either by writing bios to share their personalities, updating a breed list that is distributed to rescue groups, sharing their stories on social media or just being an advocate for the shelter and talking to people about volunteering and what it means to me.  I put together videos for the dogs that I meet and have an album of longtimers and fosters that I keep updated to create awareness for these special dogs.  I do it because I want to and it is important for me to be the voice for these homeless animals.  I get joy from seeing successful adoptions and watching the excitement in the dogs body language when I am spending time with each of them.  It makes my day better. Nothing makes me more excited then seeing new volunteers getting involved and joining this great organization.  These animals deserve all the love and attention they can get and the volunteers are a big part of making this happen.  

Andrew and Talledega
Recently, my soon to be step son Andrew, started asking to volunteer with me when he comes to stay with us on the weekends.  He is 11 years old and I have to admit I was a little shocked.  One, he wanted to spend time with me and not his dad, :) and two, he could be doing so many other things, but he wanted to help me with the dogs. 

It all started over Christmas break when Andrew was able to stay with us for a few extra days.  I was helping out at the Zona Rosa location, transporting dogs in the morning from the boarding facility to the adoption facility.  The kid didn't even blink when I told him we had to wake up at 7am to get started.  It was his week to sleep in and he didn't mind at all.  He was all about it.  We bundled up in our coats and gloves and everyday he was with me to help out at Zona.  I was pretty amazed at how he jumped right in.  He wasn't scared of any of the dogs.  He knew exactly how to approach them; he didn't rush in or overwhelm the dogs.  Andrew would run with me and the dog to help stretch their legs.  If I needed anything he was there to help.  He would water the dogs for us, grab treats or poop bags, he was our kid tester to see how the doggies did with him.  I have to say it was pretty awesome.

Transporting to Zona!
That first week, Andrew quickly connected with Talledega, a small pit mix that loved Andrew too.  That was another thing about Andrew, he didn't judge any of the dogs.  He wasn't scared of the pittie mixes or the big dogs, he was all in and ready to meet them all.  I remember our wild child, Sparrow, grabbing Andrew's coat (he was a little mouthy sometimes).  Sparrow thought it was a game and didn't want to let go.  Andrew stayed calm while I helped distract Sparrow with a treat.  Everything was fine; it didn't make Andrew nervous or upset and we were on to the next dog.  After that week, Andrew was hooked.  Every weekend he was with us he asked when could we go to Zona and walk the dogs. 

He has been a huge help when he volunteers with me.  He has helped me with transporting dogs from the shelter to Zona.  He has made cameo's in videos with some of the dogs.  He is someone that appreciates what we all do for the dogs and wants to help too.  It is really hard for people to understand how and why I volunteer at the animal shelter, but Andrew just gets it.  He asks the questions I ask everyday - how can someone surrender their pet after 8 yrs?  Why would someone crop that dogs ears or pull out its teeth?  I only wish every kid, parent, adult understood what it means to be a pet owner like Andrew does.

He loves the small dogs too!
Andrew is an unbelievable kid and I feel really lucky to be able to have him with me when I volunteer.  It is great to be able to share the success stories with him when dogs get adopted and he is always asking about dogs he has met and how they are doing.  It is awesome!

I know KCPP has had groups of girl scouts and boy scouts come to the shelter to help out.  I think it is a great way to get kids involved and help create awareness about shelter pets and how wonderful they are.  Please consider bring your kids to volunteer or get a group together.  The earlier we can start with these kids the better it will be for them and our shelter pets!  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lonely Sundays

It has been a rough couple of months at the KCMO Shelter. It seems like intake numbers are higher than I remember in past years. We have a handful of dogs whose intake date was in 2012 and they are desperate to find their forever home. The weather has been cold and snowy and rainy, keeping adopters away and bringing even more dogs into the shelter. My normal volunteer day, Sunday, used to be the day we had the most volunteers and that has not been the case these past few weeks.  It is getting a little lonely and I can't even imagine what it is like on the week days.  I am so appreciative to those who are able to go on those lonely days.

Poor Kaden is missing his family.  He is so lost at the shelter.
This past Sunday was Easter and with it being a holiday, I knew volunteer help would be a little slim. I am thankful my family is understanding about my need to help the doggies.  I was going to be a little late, but I promised to share Easter Sunday with both the dogs and my family. The main goal for Sunday was to make sure the 28 new dogs got their pictures taken plus a few long timers who needed some updated glamor shots. I also spent time with a few favorites and got some video too.

I was thankful to see Kasi Orr, our photographer, and her husband. It was a little overwhelming to think that it might have been just Kasi and I, and then another volunteer Cindy, showed up. Photographs went so smoothly with the three of us. We met some amazing dogs, all with their own story. Kaden pictured up above is a 10yr old Lab mix who is just so confused on why his owners would leave him at the shelter.  I tried to comfort him, but he was just so stressed.  There were a few others just like him and Kasi did a great job of capturing their personality in her photosYou can check out this link to see all of their cute faces...KCPP Adoptables

 After photos there was a good 30-45 minutes when it was just me.  It was so weird to be just by myself, but also kind of peaceful. I was able to spend some one on one time with 3 pretty ladies. Shirley, Gwenyth and Velma were able to have all my attention. There were no other volunteers, no adopters to stop and ask questions, no other dogs out to distract us. It was nice to just enjoy each of those girls and get to know how fantastic they each are. I made some short videos to show some of their personality. 

Shirley came in with her partner in crime Laverne.  Laverne has found her forever home and Shirley has been patiently waiting.  She is a great dog, so friendly and a the perfect medium size.  There has been some talk about her finding a home soon - I have my fingers crossed!

 Gwenyth was so very shy and timid when she first arrived at the shelter.  It took some time to leash her up and she was pretty hand shy when you tried to pet her.  She has made some improvements and was even invited to play with some other dogs.  Gwenyth doesn't mind other dogs as long as they are a little more calm and relaxed like herself.  You can see in the video she has some spunk and personality.  She is a great girl who will be a great friend to a new family.  

Velma also arrived at the shelter back in December 2012.  She gives off this tough exterior and seems so serious. She is the type of girl to explore her environment before she gets to bonding with anyone.  I think this has been one of the reasons she hasn't found her perfect home yet.  She is a great girl, nice medium size.  She is not to great with the smaller children or dogs.  Velma is a mature girl who wants you all to herself and doesn't want to share.  I am really pulling for this girl, she deserves happiness like all the others!

That short time I spent with each of these girls reminded me how important it is to give each dog that attention and focus.  Those 10-15 minutes they get with me is the most exciting part of their day and they deserve to get all the love and play they can in that short time.  I only wish that each of those dogs could get it everyday, instead of just once or twice a week. I don't know if that day will ever come, but until then I will do as much as I can when I can. I will encourage others to help and continue to share my passion for helping the homeless dogs of KCMO.

Sunday was a perfect day to walk dogs and had it not been Easter, I know there would have been more volunteers. With Spring officially here, I am hoping that Sundays won't be so lonely anymore. The dogs need more one on one time and I hope more volunteers can come out and spend some time with these awesome dogs.  Already looking forward to next Sunday.