Thursday, February 23, 2012

Trip and The Puppies

What better way to start a post than with a picture of cute puppies? These four pups came into the shelter two days ago and after some deworming, are now up for adoption! They are pit/lab mixes, about 8 weeks old, three females and one male - oh and one is the adorable runt of the litter. She's on the top picture hiding behind her sister. I love it when puppies come into the shelter :)

For a Wednesday it was pretty busy, and for the past two days I have been in dogs which is awesome! I've been missing my pups and it was about time I went back. There was a lot of tasks and cleaning that had to be done, and thankfully I was able to keep up with it all. I had 3 huge baskets of laundry, making the dog treats, cleaning the cat crates, windows, clipping nails, etc. It's like a never ending lists of things that need to be done and even when I think I'm done...there's always something else that could be done. If only I was this efficient cleaning at home...ha! Yeah right.

We had two Chihuahua mixes come in, brother and sister, and also had two Chow-Chow's come in. The male chihuahua, named Chiki, was able to be processed and put up on the adoption side fairly quickly. The girl, Chikitita (means small in spanish), was a little more difficult to work with. The two dogs came in with a woman and a young girl, so we think they were mostly around women . I'm usually the only girl who works in the kennels, some of my female co-workers work in adoptions and in cats - but I'm the only girl really interacting with dogs. So the guys were trying to get Chikitita to come to them and warm up to them...and she refused! I went into her kennel and let her come up to me on her own terms, let her become comfortable with me...and it worked :) I'm not sure if she's just nervous around guys because of their size or voice but once I got a hold of her, we were able to process her and put her up for adoption. It's happened before in the past and is usually more common in smaller breeds. Oh the perks of being a girl!

There was also a cat who came in Tuesday with his left front leg in really bad shape - I honestly thought he was going to be put down because there probably wasn't enough funds to do an amputation. Turns out, they were able to save the little guy and amputated his front leg! My co-worker took him home yesterday and is going to foster him until he is healed and is ready to be put up for adoption. How awesome is that? He's a flame-point cat and his name is Tri-Pod, or Trip for short. The picture below is right after his surgery and I'll make sure to put up updates and pictures of Trip later :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Doggy Fat Camp

WHAT a weekend...I was going to post yesterday but as I was writing this post, I fell asleep lol. Weekends at the shelter are always ridiculously hectic and stressful - I always get home exhausted and the first thing I want to do is shower, eat, then sleep. The shelter is always full of people, which is both good and bad. Many come with the intention of adoption, while other come just to visit our animals...and then there are some people that think we're a petting zoo. We're also right next to a huge flea market, so many people trickle over to our place after the flea market to see the puppies and kitties. The good thing about weekends is that we usually get a lot of adoptions, and this weekend was no exception :) We got at least 10 cats adopted out and I think around 5 dogs - successful weekend!

I was working in cats this entire weekend, and in the beginning I would moan and complain (to myself) wishing that I was in dogs and not cats. But what good is that gonna do? I've never been much of a cat person, so I've been taking this opportunity to learn as much as I can about cats and so far I've learned a lot! Cats have such unique personalities and I've come to appreciate them and I gotta say - I'm beginning to really like these kitties! I mean I still consider myself more of a dog person...but I totally get why people can be so obsessed with these cuties. It was hard at first because their body language is much more difficult to read than sometimes they look very happy that you're petting them and then BAM, out of nowhere one would swat my hand away. Oh unpredictable kitties...

Saturday BY FAR is our craziest day of the week and we were hoping that this Saturday wouldn't be too bad...but of course that didn't happen. There was one situation that happened on Saturday that I thought would be worth sharing:

So there I am eating lunch on my mid-day break with two other co-workers, one the assistant manager and another staff member, relaxing and enjoying our break. We still had like 20 minutes of peace left when in comes another staff member, clearly irritated, and begins to rant about something or the other. As it turns out, there was this lady outside who INSISTED that we take in the 17 cats she had in her car, and if we didn't she would have let them loose in the parking lot. It was her daughters cats and we had asked if she could call her daughter to get permission to relinquish the cats to us, and she just would not do it! To clarify, we don't take in lost or strays, only owner relinquished pets (must have the owner's permission). This lady was not the owner so we couldn't take in these cats unless she got her daughters approval - if not they she would have to take them to animal services. She was so upset that she went straight to her car and was about to start letting the cats loose. That's when my co-worker ran in to get us. Well...there went my lunch. 

At least five of us ran outside and were able to stop her and we just decided to take in the cats and call animal services ourselves so they could pick them up. What on earth crazy lady?! That would have been pure CHAOS if she let those cats loose... My guess is that she took those cats from her cat hoarder daughter and didn't want to call her daughter because she probably didn't even know that she took them! I swear it's crazy the things we see at the shelter...people never cease to amaze me.

Now on to the topic of the day - Doggy Fat Camp.

First, meet the two pups Rosie and Spooner! I know I know Spooner is an odd name...but we didn't choose it! Her previous owner, a military man, gave her that name and unfortunately had to give her up because he was being deployed. These two girls came in recently and have since been our resident fat campers.

Rosie is a 10 year old beagle with a very sweet personality and loves to give kisses. Spooner is younger, around 4 or 5, and is a precious big girl! She shakes her entire behind whenever she's excited to see somebody and they both love to take walks. Both are also very overweight.

Rosie and Spooner have been put on a very strict diet ever since they've gotten here and I'm proud to say that they've both lost weight! We walk them often and give them lots of love throughout the day. I'm happy to say Rosie was recently put up for adoption and is now waiting for her forever home. We are still working with Spooner to get her to lose some more weight before she gets put up for adoption. You'll also notice in the pictures that her lower back is shaved down - and that's because it was all now she looks like a little lion/dog :)

I took advantage of the beautiful weather we were having today and took them out to the play yard so they could run around for a bit. Here are some pics of them enjoying themselves outside :)

Overweight people are not the only ones with the obesity problem...dogs and cats struggle with this too! Owners think that they by giving them a scrap here and giving them endless amounts of food is just giving them love. Oh so wrong! I don't think I need to explain this further...but it is upsetting to see some of the dogs come in like this. Good thing we are able to work with them and get them back to a healthier state :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

So Much To Clean!

I had a rough morning today...woke up feeling sluggish and getting out of bed at 6am everday is not fun -__- But I did it nonetheless and I've gotten used to starting my days early. So much so that I wake up early on my days off. We did the usual cleaning, and I was in dogs like I usually am. I clock in first thing then switch to my water boots, pick up my hair...and get to work! There are so many steps and things we need to do before 9:30am (we open at 10am) that by that time, I'm already exhausted. We rinse the kennels inside and out, spray it down with a special chemical that kills bacteria, scrub, rinse again, then squeegee the water out so the floors are dry. We also feed, walk dogs, process them, do laundry, bathe dogs that need much fun stuff before we open to the public. Oh and it continues throughout the day and just gets more and more hectic. It's way more complicated than that but that's just the gist of it. It's no wonder I lost so much weight! lol

So today wasn't too bad, we had 5 dog adoptions which is awesome! For a Thursday, that's a pretty damn good day. Two went together to one family and the other three to some other wonderful homes. Bailey, a pointer mix, and Gun, a hound/lab mix were two of the dogs that went home. Blue, a pit/lab mix, also got adopted after being here for like a month. He was one of my favorite dogs and we were all so excited that he got adopted! He reminded me of the dog from Blue's Clues with his adorable floppy ears and little black eyes :) Such a cutie pie.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Oh People...

People ask me all the time, "what's the most difficult part of your job?". My answer...dealing with the people and public. Bet you didn't expect that huh? Of course euthanasia is actually the most difficult...but the public is a REALLY close second. It really is incredible to me how many people we encounter that are (how can I put this nicely)...ignorant.

For example, today, a lady came in to return a dog she adopted from us yesterday. Would you like to know why she decided that after only a day, she didn't want to keep him? Because he barked. SERIOUSLY? I mean really...what did you think you were adopting? A hamster?

Or how about the the crazy cat people we get regularly? Ok there aren't as many as you'd think...but we do get those few nuts every once in a while. Like this one lady who came in with a list of attributes she wanted the cat to have: must be declawed, orange, under a year, male, neutered, must be very vocal, and be a lap cat. It just made me laugh when she came in with that list...I mean what more could I do? I simply told her that I can't choose a cat for her and she'd have to look around for herself to find the one she wants. She ended up leaving because there weren't any that met the ridiculous standards off her list. Oh people people people...

And to top it all off, we have this volunteer lady who takes the cake. She likes to come in and spend time with the cats and with the smaller dogs. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE the volunteers and appreciate them so much because without them, many of these animals wouldn't get the attention they deserve. But this lady is a special case. We receive donations all the time and sell some things to the public (like dog toys and beds) and she takes it upon herself to stuff her bag with some of these items...and leave. Does she pay? Nope. We've caught her a couple of times and have had to tell her that she needs to pay for the stuff. She almost got kicked out and banned because it was getting too much! I'm pretty sure she's a kleptomaniac. You'll probably be hearing more about her later because she likes come around a lot...her name is Mrs. I. We keep a watchful eye every time she's around now.

As frustrating as it can get sometimes, I also try to look at the positive. Part of our job is to educate people about our animals and how to properly care for them. There are also many people who come in with donations, with the intent to adopt, and are just all around nice people. So it's not always that bad! :)

I also wanted to share two pics of dogs that I thought were adorable and were able to get their happy ending! I love happy endings and success stories :) It makes all of this worth it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dog Bite Prevention

This weekend, like every other weekend, was HECTIC at the shelter. Saturdays and Sundays are by far our busiest days and man this weekend was not an exception. We have around 60 kennels at the shelter that hold up to 2 dogs each...and around 40 of them had dogs in it. A full house! Which also means, a butt load of cleaning for us. On top of that, the weather dropped to the 40's (especially in the mornings) my fingers were turning blue during our morning cleaning. We gave most of the dogs blankets and comforters to sleep in at night, and they seriously did not want to get out of them this morning when we were cleaning lol.

The topic I really wanted to touch on in this post is very important for everyone to learn about - dog bites. It's the most common problem with dogs and also the most preventable. According to the AVMA, over 4.7 million people in the US are bitten by dogs every year. Children and senior citizens are by far the most common dog bite victims. I hear of all these terrible stories of people getting bit, and I bet the majority of them could have been completely avoided if they were informed of how to act around a dog...especially a strange dog!

I am so guilty of many of these and I learned the hard way when I first started my job. For example, one of the most common mistakes people make is going up to an unfamiliar dog and sticking your hand in their face, thinking that if you make them smell you that they'll automatically "know" you and like you. WRONG. I did this at first to some of the dogs at the shelter thinking that it would work, and instead many of them would just snap at my hand. Lesson learned. All we're doing is invading their space and scaring them, and their only defense to keep us away is by snapping at us. It's not like they can just tell us to stay away! There are proper ways to approach a dog and allow them to feel safe and comfortable...and I bet you they will most likely NOT bite.

So please, READ the rest of the post! Even if you're not a huge dog lover, I'm sure there will come a time when you will encounter a strange dog and everyone should know how to properly approach them. I you ever want to get bit? I doubt it!

I got all these images and information from Dr. Sophia Yin DVM, MS from her Animal Behavior and Medicine Blog. This has been the best explanation through pictures I have seen and she has this info available for people to use for Dog Bite Prevention Week. I tried to download the poster and somehow put it on this post but it didn't work, so here is all her useful advice.  (

Appropriate and inappropriate approaches: You’d probably feel threatened if someone randomly walked up to your car and stuck their hand into the window to reach for you. Similarly dogs may feel scared or violated if you reach into their safe space. It’s best to stand out of the dog’s safety/ threat zone and even look away so it’s clear you’re not some bad guy trying to break in.

Appropriate and inappropriate approaches: People frequently see a cute pooch and want to rush up to pet him. Just as you might feel scared if a stranger or even an acquaintance ran right up to you, a dog may feel uncomfortable too. It’s best to approach slowly—at a leisurely walk while watching the dog for body language signs of fear.

 Appropriate and inappropriate approaches: It’s mostly kids who rush up uncontrollably to pet a dog, but even adults encroach threateningly. For instance, suddenly reaching out from nowhere without first asking parents or the owner can lead to bad results.  Even children are nervous of strangers approaching, and rightly so. We shouldn’t expect our dogs to be more comfortable with stranger danger than our kids. That’s why it’s important to always ask owners if it’s OK to greet their pets.  It’s up to the owner to know their pet well enough they can inform others if it’s safe to pet their dog and if the dog will enjoy the interaction.

Appropriate and inappropriate approaches: Starting in childhood, we were all told to avoid staring. It’s rude, and even creepy. So even if a dog’s owner says it’s OK to greet Rover, avoid approaching head-on and staring. Instead, approach offset or sideways and look using your peripheral vision.

Appropriate and inappropriate greetings: Have you ever seen a toddler or young child visiting Disneyland or some other theme park to see their favorite beloved cartoon character? But when they see Mickey Mouse or Yogi Bear he’s gigantic in size and looming over them and they get scared. The same thing happens to dogs. They may seem friendly and happy as you approach, but if you loom over them, especially if you’re facing them head on, you can cause them to have a meltdown. That’s why it’s better to stand facing slightly sideways and remain outside their personal space or bubble. Note that the size of the bubble varies from dog to dog. Then let them approach at their own rate if they feel like it. If they don’t feel like approaching, then just admire them from a distance. For little dogs you can squat down to their level. But be careful to do so from far away and face sideways so that when you are shorter your face isn’t right in their face.

Appropriate and inappropriate greetings: Although you’ve probably heard that you should greet dogs by letting them sniff your hand, reaching out to their face is actually pretty rude, especially if you’re facing them or staring. Imagine if someone was standing near you and they reached a hand out towards you. It’s best to let the dog approach at his own rate and avoid putting pressure on him by reaching out.

Appropriate and inappropriate greetings: Some kids have phobias about clowns or certain types of people. Similarly some dogs are afraid of some types of people or people wearing or carrying certain objects or in various environments. Even if you’ve followed all of the appropriate greeting rules so far, some pets may still feel uncomfortable. So if you see signs of fear, discomfort or tension (link to the dog body language/ dog bite prevention-the one from Friday’s blog), even if the dog comes up to sniff you, still avoid petting him. Instead just admire the pet from nearby.

Appropriate and inappropriate interactions: Lastly, remember that some interactions are just not appropriate or aren’t as fun for the animal (or for children) as you think.  For instance, most kids don’t like being pinched on the cheek even if they will put up with it. Similarly most dogs dislike being hugged even by family members even if they allow it. Imagine how a dog who dislikes hugging might react if they are hugged by someone with whom they’re only mildly familiar. When interacting with a dog, especially an unfamiliar one, avoid hugging, patting or petting in an overly familiar way. Instead pet in a calm, gentle, relaxed manner.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

All dogs go to heaven

Today was a pretty slow day, I was in cats today and spent most of the day cleaning. Usually we're swamped with tasks and stuff to get done, but today seemed pretty easy for some reason. Maybe it was the chilly and gray day we were having? A lot of the cats and dogs were napping their lives away, which is nice since they're a lot quieter than usual. So I kept myself busy by clipping most of our cats nails, much easier to do than for the dogs! Good practice for me too.

But of course something interesting had to happen today, if not it wouldn't be a normal day! First, this morning while doing our morning cleaning, I found some roundworms in one of the dog's feces. I'll go more into detail on the topic of worms later in another post just dedicate to that...but man was it gross! They look like long white earthworms embedded in their feces. The worms were already dead, but we still have to scoop their poop with separate equipment and make sure that they stay in their kennels so we don't risk getting the other dogs sick. In the meantime, they will most likely be treated until they are completely dewormed.

Second thing, we got a dog return yesterday (I'll call him Sammy) after they adopted him sometime in December. He was a male Mastiff mix, around 5 years old, and a complete sweetheart! He was here when I first started my job and I fell in love with this guy - he was such a gentle and sweet big boy. It was a family who adopted him and apparently he would pee sometimes in the house, and they didn't have the "time" to train him properly. They seemed like such a nice family and then we come to realize he was pretty beaten and scared...clearly they didn't take care of him :( Definitely not his usual self. He would flinch every time someone moved too fast near him and put his tail in between his legs - something he NEVER used to do before he got adopted. He turned out to have some pretty serious health issues and we had the tough decision of having to put him down (I don't think it was directly related to the owners mistreating him).

Which takes me to my title - All dogs go to heaven. It's something that never gets easier with time and is always a tough decision for us to make. We don't take the issue of euthanasia lightly and only do it when we know that the dog is clearly in pain. It makes me a little happier to think that these furry critters get to go to a happier place after they leave us :) It may be a bit naive of me, but I don't care. All they do is give us love no matter what they've been through; true eternal optimists even though people disappoint them over and over again. RIP Sammy.

Now to end this post on a lighter note! I took two pictures that made me smile today, even though it was such a bummy day.

Left: An adorable puppy that came in yesterday named Stoner (ha, I know). A 6 month old bundle of love!
Right: A young female cat that has a creepy yet funny smile on her at all times. Sweet as can be but such a funny face!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One cat, Two cats, Three cats...TEN!

Catchy title? Lol eh I tried. So today I started getting trained in cat receiving after working in dog kennels and cat maintenance for two months. You gotta start somewhere right? They want us to really get the cleaning down to a science before we can move on to the next 'level'. So I cleaned my life away to the point where I can do it now with my eyes closed...and man is there A LOT to clean. We like to keep our animals and facility squeaky clean and have them looking (and feeling) amazing. It's a lot of physical labor, but I don't mind it at all. And hey, I've lost ten pounds in the process :) 

Anyways, back to the topic. Yesterday was a pretty slow day in cat receiving as we only received two cats (that's considered a slow day). My co-worker, whom I shall call M, totally jinxed me and said that on Wednesdays is when the hoarders usually come in. And of COURSE, as soon as we open the doors a lady came in saying she had TEN cats in her car that she needed to drop off. I thought...seriously??? I'm still training and barely know what to do, and this is the first cat receiving I get?

As we were inputting her name into the computer, we realized she was a regular and has dropped off a total of 35 cats at our shelter. Can you imagine? She was crying telling us how she couldn't afford to care for them and that these were the sick ones. It's sad to see that because she truly believes that she's "rescuing" these animals, when in reality she's not. Out of the ten, we were only able to save one! They all had either fleas, feline leukemia and/or aids, upper respiratory infections (URI which is common in cats), or were malnutritioned. The one we were able to save only had flea allergies and miraculously didn't get URI, which is an airborne disease. Needless to say, they were in really bad shape.

You know, it's one thing to see it on TV and a totally different thing to see it in person. It's pretty rare for us to see dog hoarders but sadly it's not that uncommon to get cat hoarders. We have a couple of regulars. So today was quite an interesting day...but I'm so excited I'm finally learning something other than cleaning! I was able to start prepping the needles, medicine, and holding the animals for their shots. Woo hoo :) Let's hope tomorrow isn't too crazy!

Monday, February 6, 2012

First Post

My first post EVER! So I've been wanting to start a blog for a very long time...but couldn't decide on what to write about. This past November I began my job at a local shelter and I have decided to write about my experiences while working there.

Ever since I can remember, I've had a true passion for animals and have always wanted to pursue a career in Veterinary Science. I graduated in August 2011 with Bachelors in Animal Science but I hesitated to apply to veterinary school because I thought...maybe it wasn't for me? I then received this job offer at the shelter as an Animal Care Specialist, and I absolutely love it! It's emotionally and physically exhausting...but I'm pushing through it and learning as much as I can from this opportunity.

These past 2 months, I've seen a lot of different animals with various diseases, behavior issues, and stories. It's overwhelming! Every night after I came home from work, I would research whatever new disease I saw and learn a little more about it. So why not blog about it? This way I can look back at it and at the same time share all this lovely info with anyone who cares to read along. Stay tuned!