A Day with a Homeless Dog

A Day with a Homeless Dog

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.