Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Updates...OH MY!

Now where do I even begin??? I've had a lot going on this past month with the holidays, work, and school...and it's only going to get crazier! But I miss my blog and I wanted to update everyone on a couple of things.

Raina the Australian Shepherd

This is Raina the 6 month old Australian Shepherd. I saw her for the first time the day after she was brought in, and I KNEW that she was a special dog. I immediately wanted to adopt her and I almost did...

I ended up fostering her for a couple of days to see if adopting a dog now would be a good idea and also to work with her for that time. Her previous family was a lady and her young son that had (I believe) it was Turrets or some form of autism, and any time Raina would get too excited and play a little rough, he would hit her. Now I don't know how bad it was or if it was even as bad as it sounded, but she was getting to the point of biting back out of fear and defense. That's when the mom decided to bring her in to the shelter before it got worse. Luckily she's very young and once she we taken out of that environment, her nipping stopped and she seemed to immediately relax and be her happy self.

The time I had her at home was...interesting to say the least. Raina was wonderful, always happy and excited to see me and ready to play 24/7! The first encounter with my cat Jax was tense at first, her hackles were raised and Jax was definitely not pleased to see her. Anytime he ran away she would run right after him...which I could expect because it's in her nature. As an Australian Shepherd, her instinct is to herd other animals and chase I had to keep them separated for the first couple of days.

Then what do you know...they got ALONG! I was actually surprised that it happened so quickly and that she stopped chasing him and he stopped running away. But then I really took the time to think about it, and I realized that I am not ready to adopt and commit to a dog right now. At this point in my life, I am focusing on my goals for the future and with work, school, and other commitments, I'm almost never home! Financially I am also on a tight budget, so I decided after a lot of thinking that it wouldn't be in Raina's best interest for me to adopt her. I wouldn't be able to provide the time and attention she needs and deserves, so I brought her back from fostering and luckily she was adopted that same day.  I also didn't keep Edward my other foster cat for the same reason, I'm going to end up with a zoo if I want to keep every foster! That's the only difficult thing I've found about fostering, bringing them back. I get attached very easily and if I ever want to foster again in the future to help other animals, I can't keep them all. Doesn't ever get any easier though...

I did learn quite a bit with Raina and what it takes to really care for a dog. I'll adopt a dog once I feel ready and know that I can really commit to them. My time will come eventually! Bringing her back to the shelter though was EXTREMELY difficult, and that was after only 4 days AND I was just fostering her. Which got me on Earth can people bring in their pet after years of being with them just because they're moving, can't afford them, etc, etc.??? I could barely do it after a couple of days of JUST fostering...I would never ever be able to do that to my own dog or cat that I've had for a long time. I just don't get it.


On to a happier note! One of my favorite long timers at the shelter was adopted and I just had to share! He was a very special dog that I fell in love with, and I am so happy to see the family he is with now. They absolutely love him and have been spoiling and enjoying him ever since. Booster is a male Pitbull that was brought in originally because his family was moving, and was here for a very long time. He was actually adopted out twice from the shelter and brought back both times because they were "unable to handle him". Basically, he was too strong for them and they couldn't or didn't want to even try.

Booster is a big baby that wouldn't hurt a fly, but he was pure muscle and walking him was quite a task. A normal leash and collar wouldn't do the trick with him; the only way he could be easily walked was with an easy walk harness on him. Once he had that on, he walked like a dream! He didn't pull or drag you down at all, and we explained that to the adopters and that was the first thing they bought for him. Now he is one happy adopted boy with (from what they told me) a huge comfy bed all for himself, although apparently he'd rather be on the bed with his owner. So glad he got his happy ending!

The Cat in the House

I found this adorable house for Jax and bought it for him, and he loved it! Just had to share.

My New Car

My last update is about my shiny new car. My old car threw in the towel on my way to work about a month ago, so I made my first big girl purchase and bought myself a new car. It's newer version of my old car and I absolutely love it. This is the front end of it...of course I had to put my own personal touch on it. More posts to come soon :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Be The Change - Pet Relinquishment

Oct 15: Be, Blog, Read, Share the Change for Animals!

Today is a special post, "Blog the Change for Animals!". I am participating in a blog hop along with other pet bloggers that are also writing in support of various causes and coming together to share information and ideas :)

Fun Fact: October is Adopt a Shelter Pet Month !!! WOO HOO!!! My next topic will be on that :) 

The topic I wanted to touch on today was pet relinquishment; the reason why SO many shelters have SO many animals. Have you ever wondered how we receive all the pets at the shelter? Where do they come from? Why did people give them up? Many come in thinking that most of our pets were lost or stray animals and are always shocked to find out that NONE of them are lost or stray animals...but pets from previous homes that someone just didn't want anymore.

The non-profit shelter I work at only takes in owner relinquished pets, while Animal Services (county funded) takes in all animals, especially lost or stray animals. So why do people bring them in? I found an interesting study done by the National Council on Pet Population that shows the top 10 reasons for cats and dog:

"We're moving...we just can't take him with us." OH man, if I had a dollar for every time I have heard that statement, I'd be RICH! That is by far the most common reason people bring in their dogs, with finances and time commitment coming in second and third. Allergies is a big one with cats and people also find themselves with litters of kittens...and by the time they know it, they have 6 cats. Spaying and neutering IS SO IMPORTANT! And then of course we always hear the craziest stories or the ones that want to make you cry...every day is a new day.

What can we do to stop people from bringing their pets to the shelter? In truth, EDUCATION IS KEY. People need to realize that owning a pet is a long term commitment and not short term. Also, early obedience training can help avoid future behavioral issues. There are so many resources in your community that can help with training and in all other aspects of your pets life.

Somehow these resilient pets seem to have this amazing ability to move on and move forward with their lives and always are willing to forgive. They always live in the moment and it always makes me wonder...why can't we be more like that? Letting go of resentment and angry feelings will ultimately make us happier people. So how about we learn some life lessons from our pets and have a more positive outlook in life :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Zeus the Cane Corso

Meet the very amazing and sweet big boy named Zeus, the Cane Corso. I have seen many Mastiff breed dogs come into the shelter and many more mixed breeds, but never a Cane Corso! The Cane Corso is an Italian Mastiff that was bred to hunt and act as a guard dog. They are powerful big dogs that require an experienced owner and plenty of socialization and training. The Corso is known to be very headstrong and intelligent, which can be both a good and bad thing. Zeus is quite a special dog with plenty of personality; he absolutely LOVES human interaction and giving affection. He really thinks he is a lapdog too because every time we take him out to the rec yard and one of us sits down on a bench, he tries to lay down on your lap (even if half of his body is dangling off). Zeus is truly the definition of a "gentle giant".

Now here are some pictures of Jax and Edward, my ex-foster/new kitty, enjoying a nap in the middle of the day. If you didn't see my last blog post, Edward is a cat that I took in to foster for sometime while he healed from his neutering procedure. He was in a cage for the past 7 months and was unable to go into a free roam room with other cats because he wasn't he had no idea how to live outside of a cage until just recently. Every noise made him run the other way and all the smells were new to him. Watching him experience everything for the first time was incredible and it has been so rewarding to see him grow and be more comfortable at home :)

Edward took over Jax's bed and at first Jax didn't know where to go. So I found him sleeping on the floor, then right next to the bed playing with Edward...and then he eventually decided to just share and sleep right on top of poor Edward...and Edward didn't seem to mind at all! He seems so at peace in the house and has slowly become more active, curious, and playful with us and with Jax.

I think this is exactly what Jax needed, a friend to keep him company and play with...especially when I'm not home. I catch them chasing each other around the house all the time and even better, snuggling and taking naps together. They are the cutest thing and have become instant brothers! :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Foster #2: Awkward Edward

Working 6 days in a row is EXHAUSTING! I finally have a day off today and can semi-relax at home and cross of some things on my to-do list. So much to do so little time!

Let me start by introducing you to my foster for a week and half: Edward.

Honestly his name is just Edward, my boyfriend and I gave him the nickname "Awkward Edward". Edward came into the shelter in mid April and is now approximately a year old. We have four free roam rooms in our cat building where our kitties have the ability to be out of a cage and live a more comfortable life until they are adopted. Unfortunately, unuttered male cats can't be in the rooms for a couple of reasons. Intact male cats are more likely to be territorial and fight as well as mark their territory, which is called spraying or marking. Unspayed female cats are known to do it as well, but it is more common in males than with females. Urine is what's sprayed out onto walls and furniture, and it   is usually a stress reliever for the cats. It's their way of coping with dealing with stress...and at the same time it's telling you something is going on! Young male cats exhibit the behavior more and it can usually be avoided by neutering them early. We attempted making a room that had some intact males with spayed females and it was a DISASTER! The stink from the spraying was extremely difficult to get rid of and many of them would try to dart out of the door whenever they had a chance (searching a mate).

So poor Awkward Edward came into the shelter with two things against him: young male and intact. This meant that he had to stay in a cage until he got adopted. He's been at the shelter since mid-April, which means he's been living in a cage for almost 7 months! A little more than half of his life has been spent in a cage with little human interaction and outside enrichment. It's been tough getting him adopted because anytime someone visits with him in a meet and greet room, he's nervous and uncomfortable. And can you blame him? So we decided to get him neutered, I would foster him until he heals, and then return him to the shelter. Now he gets to be in a free roam room with more space and no more cage life! :)

Here he is exploring at my house and experiencing a bunch of new smells and objects. When I first opened the carrier, he ran right under the bed and didn't come out for a while. Slowly he's been creeping around and learning how to be more comfortable in his new surroundings. What I found funny is how he would bump his nose on things around the house then run away, it was his way of testing things out. Hence the name "Awkward Edward"! He was fidgety, skittish, nervous, and awkward and is still slowly transitioning into a more confident kitty.

Jax has been a wonderful foster brother to Edward :) I let them socialize whenever I'm home and they have become buddies. I've noticed Jax is friends with anybody (human and animal) that I bring he's a great first friend for Edward. He's gentle enough so as not to scare him with rough play, but friendly enough that I find Edward roaming around the house looking for him. I hope that this will help Edward show his sweet personality more at the shelter and helps him find a permanent home.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

How Could You? - A Dog's Letter

My friend showed me this letter she found online. It's a letter written from a dog's perspective...this made me tear up and cry, so I'm warning you now! It's the sad truth that many dogs and cats face when they are brought in to shelters across the nation, and I see it everyday. This is the toughest part of my job hands down; witnessing pets be brought in to the shelter and having their whole world turn upside down. It's the reality of what happens to numerous pets, and some don't get that "second chance". I always hope that the person taking their dog out of the car in the parking lot is just walking to the clinic...and then I see them turn towards our dog receiving door and my heart sinks a little. I know what their excuses will be..."we're moving", "we don't have time", "just can't afford him", or "I know he'll find a better home here". And somehow they expect me to smile back and tell them "everything will be ok", when in reality I know that that's a lie. I wish for a second that they would stop and put themselves in their dog's "shoes"...

How Could You?

by Jim Willis

When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask, "How could you?" -- but then you'd relent and roll me over for a belly rub.

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect.

We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs" you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day. Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.

She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" -- still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate.

Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a "prisoner of love." As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch -- because your touch was now so infrequent -- and I would've defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog," and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said, "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with "papers." You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar, as he screamed, "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life.
You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked, "How could you?"

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that you had changed your mind -- that this was all a bad dream... or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.

I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured, "How could you?"

Perhaps because she understood my dog speak, she said, "I'm so sorry." She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself -- a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not directed at her.

It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

A Note from the Author: If "How Could You?" brought tears to your eyes as You read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly "owned" pets who die each year in American & Canadian animal shelters.

Anyone is welcome to distribute the essay for a noncommercial purpose, as long as it is properly attributed with the copyright notice. Please use it to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay & neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sleeping Beauties

The shelter has been SOOOO busy lately it's overwhelming! We have been receiving an alarming amount of pets from the community, and our manager has decided to reduce the adoption prices for cats and dogs over a year of age. It's THAT full! Our kennels are practically full, with the max amount of two dogs to a cage and the cat building is almost there as well. On a better note, the weather has been getting gradually cooler, and we're all starting to feel even the sligthest difference...and I'm so excited! I'm so over the summer heat and I'm sure all of the dogs are as well. Bring on the cold fronts please.

I've also been very busy with a class I'm taking this semester to fulfill the requirement to start applying to vet school. With that, my time spent in Crossfit after work, and other things...I haven't had any personal time, including my blog :( So I thought I'd make a picture post today. I wanted to share an accumulation of pictures I've taken of some of the cats and dogs I've caught sleeping. Enjoy :)

 And then some of my lazy cat Jax :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to Stop a Dog Fight

What would you do if you saw two dogs fighting at the dog park? Better yet, if you saw YOUR dog and another dog start fighting?

We had an incident earlier this week that got me many people actually know how to stop a dog fight WITHOUT getting hurt? The incident occurred when two dogs got into a scuffle in the rec yard while getting their daily walks by the volunteers. The volunteer tried to separate them himself, without asking for help, and ended up getting bit by one of the dogs. Thankfully, the bite didn't break the skin and it wasn't serious enough for either dog to be sent to animal services...which is what happens whenever a dog bites someone (intentionally or not).

Note: There IS a difference between an actual fight and two dogs just play fighting, for example, at a dog park. So be careful to not confuse the two! Some dogs just play a little more rough than others and that's ok, just as long as no one gets hurt :)

So, what do you do when you see two dogs in the middle of something like this?

First mistake people make is going with their gut to the dogs and try to physically separate them yourself...right? WRONG! This is how people get bitten and hurt! Let me share with you what I've learned while working at the shelter, from both experience and some research.

Rule # 1: Stay calm! Your adrenaline is going to spike and it's important to not panic because that's how accidents happen. Most dog fights are harmless, and reacting in a calm and collected manner will allow you to separate the dogs in a safe way. This is important to remember before AND after the fight...once the madness is over, take a deep breath and regain your composure. It's happened to me before, especially the first time, and you will be jolted after an experience.

Rule # 2: Never EVER stick any part of your body (i.e. foot, arm) in between the dogs to separate them. Do not try to physically separate them by yourself.

Rule # 3: Call for help! From someone nearby or call someone to come to your rescue! It's important to really assess how serious the fight is and weigh out the risk involved in separating the dogs, either alone or with someone. If you feel that this is too dangerous, DO NOT even try getting in there to stop them because you WILL get hurt! I've heard horror stories of someone just trying to do a good deed in stopping them and they get the bite intended for the other dog. Stories of people having reconstructive hand surgery, chunks bitten off, etc. Trust me, sometimes it's better to just wait for help. BUT there's always a chance that you could try to stop them (safely)! Most dog fights are harmless and can be easily separated following some of these tips.

So what should I do to STOP them???

First, try splashing water on them from either a hose, a bucket, or even from a water bottle that you may have on you. This will temporarily stun and shock them and will give you the chance to quickly separate them. Have one person leash and restrain one dog while you grab the other and immediately separate them so they aren't even near or facing each other.

or...You can also try interrupting the fight with a sudden loud noise such as a clap, stomping, or by banging two metal objects together (ex.bowls). I wouldn't yell or scream because that would just agitate them even more.

What if water or noise doesn't work?

If all else fails, you can try a different approach. But whatever you do, DO NOT GRAB the collar of either dog! That puts your hand waaay too close to their faces and in their hyped and agitated state, they may mistakenly redirect that bite to your hand. It may have not been intended for you, but if you are close enough...they won't know the difference. So what to do?

If you feel that they can safely and easily separated by two people, try approaching them simultaneously from behind and separating them completely (preferably the owners). Have both people get behind the dogs and simultaneously grab the dog's upper back legs. Try to grab towards the top of the back legs, near the hips, so you don't risk injuring them. Then, lift them up like a wheel barrow and walk backwards and immediately redirect them and have them face opposite directions. This will make it extremely difficult for the dogs to bite and redirect any of that aggression to you, thus making it much safer for you to separate them.

I learned this stuff the hard way, and OH MY GOD was it scary as hell when I had to separate them for the first time. Part of my job is matching a new dog to a dog already up for adoption since the kennels have two to a cage. I try my best to assess the new dogs personality and try to match it with one that would get along the best with. For example, pairing up two unneutered males is a last resort for me, because both dogs are full of testosterone and are more likely to fight. But if they are both puppies...then I would probably put those two together because they haven't reached their peak yet. It's a tricky job...and sometimes, no matter how well of a match I think I may have, they will just NOT get along.

I remember I was matching two dogs when I first started my job, and of course I picked the two dogs that just didn't get along with each other. I brought in the new dog to the kennel, and at first I was stunned when I saw them both lunge towards each other. All these thoughts ran through my head...oh crap, now what do I do? Do I reach in and stop them? Do I stick my foot in there to separate them? I'm not gonna lie, I stuck out my leg in between both of them (stupid), and I saw one snap near my leg trying to reach the other dog. OK, I thought, let's try a new approach. And then I remembered what my coworker had told me the other day, and I calmly reacted by tossing water from a water bowl right on top of the two fighting dogs. Success! :) I was able to safely get myself and the other dog out of the kennel...rattled nerves and all.

If you have more helpful and safe tips or stories about encounters at a dog park, please share! :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never Forget 9/11 Heroes

I thought I'd have a post dedicated to 9/11 and all the lives that were lost as well as all the heroes that played a part in saving numerous lives. It's crazy to think that 11 years have passed since then and I can still remember that day like it was yesterday! I was in 7th grade in my 2nd period class in my Photography elective class, and I remember my teacher turning on the TV after receiving a phone call. It took us a couple of minutes to really realize what was happening, but soon after we all watched stunned. I think it's important to remember those who lost their lives...and all those who served! I saw this picture on Facebook and wanted to post it here, to remind us that some of those heroes were hardworking search and rescue dogs. Never Forget 9/11 <3

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Hybrid Self

I feel like my brain is working in hyperdrive...if that makes any sense! If you've visited my page before, hopefully you'll notice some new designs on my little 'ol blog. It's definitely a work in progress but it's fun to work with (and much harder than I thought). But hey, no one said blogging would be easy. 

I came across the term hybrid vigor while stumbling on the web, and it kept on swimming in my mind all day yesterday. This is one definition I found for it:
Heterosis: (genetics) the tendency of a crossbred organism to have qualities superior to those of either parent. 
Or pertaining to dogs it means:
This is a term which corresponds to the theory that dogs will be stronger if they are mixed with other breeds to prevent inherited diseases and health problems. In fact, about 75% dogs in shelters are mixed breeds.
So why did it stick out to me so much?

Now technically, if a Labrador Retriever and a Cocker Spaniel crossbreed, the offspring are not considered a real hybrid (same species). If the Labrador bred with a wolf, that offspring would be considered a hybrid. It all goes back to our basic biology from high our Class, Family, Genus, etc. divisions. Yet, I know some of us have heard that if two different breeds mate, the offspring will in essence get the best of both worlds. How true is that? Is a purebred dog genetically "better off" than a mutt, or the other way around? If a breeder knows what they're doing, then I believe the risk of having those breed specific health risks are significantly lowered...but then there are those (pardon my language) dumb ass backyard breeders that do the opposite! Instead of helping the breed they hurt the breed.

Anyways! I'm not trying to get all scientific on this subject and am DEFINITELY not going to try right now (way too much research to do). But this got me thinking on a more personal level.

When I thought of the term hybrid vigor, I thought of the many furry faces at the shelter. And then I thought of myself, and where I am today. I'm still learning who I am and where I am in my life today.

My hybrid self refers to all the qualities I am trying to improve in myself to be the superior and best version of me. Within this past year, I've learned a lot about my good and my bad. And like this blog, it's a work in progress. Here's one thing I've learned about myself in this past year:
I'm a lot stronger than I thought.
    • I've been thrown into situations at the shelter, things I thought would make me bawl and break down...but surprisingly I have more of a backbone than I ever imagined. Makes me believe I can handle almost anything in the Veterinary world. Emergency heart surgery? BRING IT ON! (hehe)
    • I have also found my strength through Crossfit; it has done WONDERS for my health and self esteem. Never in a million years did I think that I could lift a 70 lb bar like it's no one's business. Or run two miles without feeling like I'm about to keel over. It's made me more confident in my abilities as an individual and what I am capable of. This has spilled over to other areas of my life, including work, personal life, school, and my family. I'm definitely not as hesitant as I used to be around big dogs or with unpredictable cats. And I'm definitely not saying that I could take on a huge dog, because clearly we all know who would win. What I'm saying is I have more courage than before in encountering a new dog that looks "mean" when in reality now, I just know they're scared. If they see I have no fear and I'm not trying to harm them, I can break that barrier and be able to actually help the animal. Before Crossfit, I would've thought twice about entering that kennel because I wasn't so confident in myself and didn't know how strong I could be (emotionally and physically). 
It's been a year of ups and downs, with many more experiences and stories to come. Life is always a work in progress, and as long as you're willing to work for'll always be moving forward.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pies for Paws!...?

Quite an interesting day to say the least! I was pretty busy all day today since I was the only adoptions counselor in the dog I definitely had my hands full. One of my favorite things as an adoptions counselor is having adopted dogs and their new families come back to visit. I love seeing how happy they are and how they have been adjusting to their new homes, it truly makes my day! :)

Yesterday and today, I had three dogs come back with their owners to visit and say hello. One was a black pit/lab puppy named Lucy that is not the tiny puppy she used to be anymore, but definitely acts like one! She was sporting her bright pink paw prints collar and fashionable matching leash. The other was a black Lab named Sammy that was one of the most skiddish and nervous dogs I have ever seen come in to the shelter. Today he came in holding his head high and looked a lot more relaxed and happier than ever, a totally different dog! Harley was the last one to come in and visit, a male Pitbull that had the sweetest personality and loved to give kisses. As soon as he walked through those doors he ran straight up to me and nearly knocked me over in excitement. These are the kind of things I look forward to when I do adoptions, knowing that I'm sending them off to a better life and to a happy home. Made my stressful and hectic day not so bad!

During lunch I went out to grab a snack with a co-worker across the street, and as we were coming back we saw a big flashing sign on the side of the road. Across the street is our County Animal Services and they also have pet adoptions as well. There sign is what caught us off guard and I couldn't help but read it, it said "Adoption Special going on Today! Pies for Paws!". What could this possibly mean?? Clearly my curiosity got the best of me so as soon as we got back to the break room I called over and asked what the special was...ready for it? If you adopt a pet you get a pie...?!

 I found it absolutely hilarious! I mean it's great that they're doing some kind of special for people to be "rewarded" with after adopting a dog or cat...but a pie? Would you want a pie after adopting a pet? Sounds kind of strange to me but hey, to each their own! I guess desperate times call for desperate measures...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Amber the Bull Terrier

How many times have you seen this dog on TV commercials and at the ever infamous Target store? I bet plenty! I'm sure many of you don't know much about the dog besides that it's the poster child for Target right? I didn't know much about the breed either until a very special dog came into the shelter about a month ago...and her name is Amber. 

Meet Amber a.k.a the Bull Terrier!

Bullseye is the dog featured in all the Target marketing and advertising campaigns, while Amber is a sweet girl that lives in a shelter. Bull Terriers are known to be extremely friendly and social dogs and are definitely attention getters in public. It's hard to not to stop and be amazed by that football shaped head and short muscular body. Apart from their unusual physical appearance, their personality is much softer than that; they usually become strongly attached to their families.

Unfortunately for Amber, she was tested positive for Heartworms and is currently in Isolation being treated (it takes at least 3 months of treatment to get rid of the pest). So we're trying to keep her as engaged and enriched as possible while she's being treated. It's tough when they are kept in isolation, some of them get what is called "kennel crazy" and start to in a sense, "lose it". Dogs need constant stimulation and they thrive on human companionship, so being left alone is definitely not ideal. Her new habit is hiding under her tiny bed or cuddling with her favorite teddy bear. I researched the breed, and apparently they are also known as "the kid in a dog suit". I couldn't agree more! That describes Amber perfectly! She's a total clown and will love up on you until she's snuggled on your lap.

Let's hope I can have an update on Amber in the near future with news of her getting adopted :)

Update: The day started off with good news! Maya the Rottie and Rocky the Belgian Malinois from my previous post have all been adopted in these past couple of days! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

So many pure breeds!

Who said you don't find purebred dogs at a shelter? This Saturday was quite a busy day, like it usually is, and unfortunately a large part of the day consisted of receiving dogs. Surprisingly the majority of the dogs that came in were purebred dogs! Usually we get a varied mix, many pitbulls and small terrier/chihuahua dogs...but not today. Let me share with you three of the ones that came in and I was able to get a picture of...all are up for adoption! :) 

Jack was the first to come in early in the morning, his owner's husband passed away and she was unable to care for him alone. Big dogs are quite a a responsibility and require a lot of space, time, and money in order to care for them properly...but man are they cool! Jack came with a personalized leather leash and collar that had his name engraved on it and with the red cross rescue logo on it. St.Bernard's are known to be a large breed of working dogs, specifically as search and rescue dogs (hence the cross logo). He weighed in at a whopping 130 pounds...which is actually in the lower weight range for the breed!

Mr. Jack is a lovable giant that is friendly to everybody and extremely affectionate; he's a huge teddy bear! We received a St.Bernard not too long ago, but he was pretty aggressive and territorial. With this breed, it is ESSENTIAL to start socializing and training them while they are still puppies to avoid behavioral issues when they are adults. They are know to be very stubborn dogs, although friendly, and are also very intelligent. OH and did I mention they drool like crazy too? 

Fun fact: There are two St. Bernard's that are pretty famous - remember the family comedy movie Beethoven?? Or better about the movie Cujo? 

Above is Rocky, a Belgian Malinois, who came in right after Jack did because they just couldn't afford to care for him. Only a year and half old, Rocky is quite a skiddish and timid boy! I had to sit in the cage with him for a while until he felt comfortable enough with me to let me put a leash on him...sometimes it just takes a little longer with some dogs and we need to be patient with them.

 A Belgian Malinois is very popular in the K9 police force in many fields of the work force (odor detections, explosive, search and rescue, etc.). They are in the same family as German Shepherds with a couple of key differences - they are faster and more agile than their cousin. The Malinois is an older breed while the German Shepherds are a relatively newer breed. The color of the Malinois is also a base color of tan or fawn with the occasional black mask on its face, unlike the Shepherd which has black markings on their coats. To be honest I've never heard of this breed until I met Rocky! They are highly intelligent dogs that are very friendly and loyal. 

Last but not least, Maya the adorable 6 month old Rottweiler puppy came in! 

Rottweilers were also bred to be working dogs and used to be hunters for the Romans, although now the modern Rottweiler's aren't the hunters their ancestors used to be. They are used as guard dogs, police dogs, guides, in search and rescue, and in other roles. These heavily muscled and big-headed dogs are HUGE love bugs if raised properly! I've met plenty of Rotties that are ridiculously friendly and awesome companions. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Stand Against the Miami Pitbull Ban

Miami is my hometown, the place I call home and where I spent the first spent 21 years of my life. I've made some wonderful memories there while growing up and I wouldn't have it any other way. But it does have one little flaw...

To start off with, I felt like I needed a change of scenery! By moving, it allowed me to grow as a person  and have a fresh start with new opportunities. I've experienced so many new things I probably would have never had in Miami and have also branched out by meeting new people. It's been a great experience thus far and I plan on continuing my growth outside of my old hometown.

Something many people wouldn't even worry about: the ban on Pitbulls. It may seem silly to a lot of people but after working at my shelter, I've met some really incredible dogs that have made a lasting impact on me; and the majority of them have been pitbulls. Thankfully, Orlando doesn't have a ban on pitbulls so I don't ever have to worry about a pitbull being put down just because of it's breed. Just the thought of that happening makes me SICK and I can't imagine how it would be like to work at a shelter in Miami and having to do that.

If anyone has a pitbull in Miami and someone reports them to Animal Services, they have no choice (thanks to that ban) but to go and remove the animal from their homes. The owners then have FIVE days to remove the dog from Miami-Dade County or it will be put down. My heart breaks just thinking of how many innocent and beautiful dogs have died because of that law :( .

Working at the shelter I have never EVER been worried about a pitbull attacking me, the ones I do worry about and are more cautious of are the little breed dogs. Oh yes! Small dogs are more likely to be scared of people because of our large size relative to theirs, so they will probably bite out of fear unlike the bigger dogs. My main concern with pitbulls is being attacked by kisses and stopping them from licking me to death! :)

I could go on and on about pitbulls and how wonderful they are, but I'll save that for a later post. I wanted to focus this blog post on the voting that took place today and how excited I am about it! I am so upset I wasn't able to vote and I probably could have if I did an absentee ballot, but I was a little late in the game. The vote on #500 would revoke the ban on pitbulls in Miami-Dade County and this would be a HUGE deal in saving so many innocent dogs! I've seen pictures of people showing their support on Facebook and even people who share it by writing in on their I'm hoping the word spread and that people voted YES on lifting the ban!

I mean really, if you can legally own a tiger in Miami but not a pitbull...something's just not right.

Now to wait and see what the results of the voting polls are! Educating people about raising a happy and healthy dog is important and spreading the word is even more important. I hope this makes people realize that education is key in keeping a safe community for everyone.


The results were posted and unfortunately, the ban on pitbulls in Miami-Dade County still stands. I know it's a work in progress and I'm hoping this got the ball rolling and will motivate people to continue to take a stand against the ban. Here's a couple of quotes from the article in the Miami Herald about the results:

“We didn’t think it would pass... whether we liked it or not and we had to take up the challenge. We only had a few months to reeducate an entire county that has been brainwashed for 23 years.’’
Canes also said that putting the words “pit bull’’ and “dangerous dog’’ in the same sentence in the ballot question all but doomed the effort.
“The fight does not end here,’’ Debi Day, an activist with No Kill Nation...We will not let the pit bulls and their owners be forever victim to this discriminatory law...’’

Read more here:

Here's the link to the Miami Herald article: