Posts Tagged ‘dog walking’

Monday dog walking report

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29th, 2009 by katie – Be the first to comment

Yesterday I finished up in lab early so I stopped by BARCS in the afternoon. It seems like there are usually at least a few volunteers there on Mondays so I try to go in the middle of the week, but I knew that Les wasn’t going to be there so I decided to head on over.  I was able to walk a bunch of dogs and spend a fair amount of time with each of them so that was nice. It was surprisingly busy for a Monday afternoon, I thought, but then again BARCS is always busy. There were plenty of kennel staff doing escorts, so I thought I could be most helpful by just sticking to dog walking. There were plenty of people coming through to look at the dogs, so that was fun to see.

One very memorable dog was named Hubba Bubba. He was a young mastiff mix that was absolutely huge. He was super dopey and lumbered around but he was very sweet and friendly. He already had an “adoption pending” sign; otherwise I think I would have had to take him home!

The first dog I walked was called Majesty. He is a tall, slim black pit bull who barks loudly whenever someone comes into the room. He’s very gentle and well behaved, though, so there’s not much behind that bark except to say hello and get attention. He has a “tech favorite” card on his kennel. While I was walking him we got lots of compliments and some of the construction workers who were renovating the kennel spaces started chatting us up. Here is a picture of Majesty from the BARCS website:

Majesty

Another dog I encountered was named Niko. Niko has a beautiful, deep gray (almost purple) short coat and a big boxy pit bull head. Unfortunately, Niko had basically trashed his kennel. His platform bed was turned upside down, his food bowls were tossed everywhere, and his face was crusted up with poop and slobber which was smeared all over everything. I took  him out of his kennel and out into the hall and what did he do but pee right there in the hallway. So I had to put him back in the kennel and go get a mop. By the time I got back to him, he was shaking his food bowl around and wouldn’t come to me at the door. He had an adoption card on his kennel, so hopefully someone willcome and get him soon and take him home, clean him up, and give him some exercise and attention.

I also walked a couple little cuties. One little dog was very timid and kept trying to climb up me. This was slightly painful because his nails were quite long, but when I pushed him down he sat down and just wanted to be reassured. Another sweetie was named Boxer. Boxer looks like a pit/boxer mix to me and is small and dark brindle. He was super cute and cuddly. Every time he smelled something interesting he went into a play bow to smell it.

Another funny-named dog I walked was called Parrot. Parrot is a broad shouldered, powerful pitbull but he is very well behaved. He’s all tan, and doesn’t do anything parrot-like that I could see, so I’m not sure what prompted someone to call him Parrot.

I left just before it started to rain with only a few more dogs left to walk, so I felt pretty good. I can’t go over there this afternoon because I’m babysitting but I’ll try to get back later in the week.

I’m Official! Dog Walking Training at BARCS Parts I and II

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27th, 2009 by katie – 2 Comments

This week I completed the two 2-hour dog walking training at BARCS. On Monday I went in for part I, which consisted mostly of basic orientation and introduction to dog walking, and then on Thursday we did part II which was entirely devoted to practicing with the dogs.

I had the opportunity to work one-on-one with Les, who is one of the most enthusiastic, friendliest, and compassionate people I think I’ve ever met. He was thrilled to be my instructor, and he took care to answer all of my questions and make sure I was comfortable with what I was doing. On Monday we spent some time in the conference room going over basic procedures and he asked me some questions about myself in order to get to know me better. Some of the things we went over were basic operating procedures for dog walkers, how to report any behavioral or health issues we notice with a dog, how to avoid getting bitten, and how to avoid dog fights. He said that in recent years there have been three instances where volunteers have been bitten: one was when a dog as cowering in the back of the cage, clearly frightened, but the volunteer went in anyway and tried to put the collar on and the dog snapped at him. Another was after a dog walker returned a dog to its kennel, gave the dog a treat, and then reached for the collar to remove it and the dog was food aggressive and snapped at her hand. The third case occurred out in the dog runs, when one volunteer was already out with a dog and then another volunteer came out and went into the dog run next to the first one, and the dogs started fighting through the fence. One dog started digging under the chain-link fence, so the walker went to try and pull him back and was bitten pretty severely. So, I think my lesson there is to a) observe and respect the dogs’ body language; if they’re telling me they don’t want me there, then I won’t go there! b) to avoid food-aggression issues from the start and c) carefully follow their instructions on avoiding dog-dog confrontations. If there is another dog in our path, we are instructed to turn around and go back until they pass. If there is another dog out in the dog runs, Les says that we should allow the dogs to interact through the fence before letting them off the leash so that we can determine whether it’s a good idea to let them off the leash or not. The most important thing is to prevent any dog from getting loose!

BARCS has three main kennel rooms or suites, each with 22 kennels inside. There are also a few smaller rooms for puppies and nursing mothers but we didn’t go in there because they are currently being renovated. (The renovation meant that there were stacks of kitty condos lining the hallways, and cages of adorable puppies in the halls – so cute!) Out in the hall near the dog walking door to the outside, there is a dry-erase board with a line for all 66 kennels and the name of the dogs in each one. Beside the dogs’ kennel # and name is the date of their last walk, and beside that there may be an L for “leash walk only”, an E for “high energy”, an X for “caution do not walk”,  an H for “house trained” or other symbols for dogs that have recently had surgery or have other special needs. Les said that an L for leash-walk only is usually because the dog has not had all its vaccinations yet, so it should not go into the exercise runs, or it is currently on medications, or the dog has recently had surgery and needs to take it easy. Apparently they used to not walk the dogs that haven’t been fully vaccinated yet, but those dogs ended up waiting way too long because they are just so backlogged, so now those dogs can go out; they just need to be on the leash only.

Both days I was there it seemed like most of the dogs had been walked the day before or two days ago at most, but hardly any had had a chance to go out yet that day. Les said that he usually starts with the dogs that have an H for house trained, because they’re probably holding it pretty bad, and then he goes on to the dogs that have not been out in the longest time.

For me, the trickiest thing is preventing the dogs from bolting out of their kennels as soon as I open the door to go in. Today we took out one dog, named Bear, who was very energetic and started biting on the leash as soon as we tried to get it on him. Once we got the dogs out the door, we either took them for a walk up and down the street or around the parking lot, or we went into one of the dog runs to play. After each play session, dirty toys and balls have to put into a plastic bag and placed in a special bin to be cleaned between uses. Also in between dogs, we the walkers have to sanitize our hands. Both Monday and today, just about every dog we took out went #2 while we were outside, which I took as a pretty good sign.

So here’s the basic routine:

Upon arrival, volunteers sign in, pick up a key to the side door of the shelter, pick up a name tag, and select from a collection of leashes and chains. I find that most of the chains are fairly short, but Les brings his own nice long one which I much preferred, so I got to use his. Some of the dogs have Martingale collars assigned to them hanging on the door of their kennel, but they seem sort of difficult to get on a lot of the time so I’m not sure how often I’ll use them. We pack up our pockets with treats and plastic bags, and a collection tube for poop or diarrhea in case we encounter a medical problem that the vets need to tend to. Then we go to the board and see who needs to be walked.

On Monday I had the chance to walk two dogs. One was a pit-bull mix named Reiki who was very friendly and well behaved. He had a number of red sores along his back and right flank, so we reported that on the vet’s sheet. I wonder if he had been in a fight? He wasn’t there today, so I don’t know what happened to him. There’s a chance that the Maryland SPCA, who comes by several times a week, may have scooped him up because he was so well behaved (apparently they get to pick out the good ones they want to take!)

The other dog we walked on Monday was a cute shepherd mix that had already been approved for adoption. He was very sweet. Today I walked about five dogs. The first was “Bear” who was very enthusiastic about biting the leash but turned out to be a sweet dog. Here is a screen shot of his profile from the BARCS website:

http://baltimoreanimalshelter.org/adoptable_pets.php

http://baltimoreanimalshelter.org/adoptable_pets.php

After that, we walked a 5 year old Boxer named Sandy that had been surrendered from an abuse case, and was very thin and looked much older than 5 years to me, but she was very very sweet. Then we walked a very cute little mix named Hot Lips. Hot Lips has already been approved for adoption but she hadn’t been out for two days. She was super cute and had a black body with a white face and white feet and a white tip at the end of her tail. Unfortunately she has kennel cough, but she is on medication for it but we could not take her into the dog run. Next came Twinkle who had already been walked today but Les wanted me to meet her. She was a doll! Here is her profile:

http://baltimoreanimalshelter.org/adoptable_pets.php

http://baltimoreanimalshelter.org/adoptable_pets.php

At the end Les suggested I pick the last one and I came across an absolute sweetheart, brindle coated honey that was just completely emaciated. I have never seen a dog that thin before, and neither had Les – he said this was by far the worst case he’d ever seen, and he does this three times a week for I don’t know how long. This dog turned out to be the biggest sweetheart! We went over to a picnic table near the water and he just moved right into my lab for some lovin’. This poor dog’s lower back is barely more than three inches across and you can see every rib and all of his pelvis sticking out, but he was one of the biggest snugglers I’ve ever met, and that’s saying something. I didn’t see how much he weighs but it’s probably well over 40 lbs LESS than he should weigh. He is on a puppy food diet which is high in calories so hopefully he will gain weight fast. He came in as a stray, and I can’t imagine how long he was out on the street starving like that. But what a honey; that was really the best moment of the whole experience was the pure joy and relief that I could feel in him as he snuggles up into my arms and licked the bottom of my chin. Yes, I let him sit in my lap even though he’s way too big; I thought he totally deserved it.

Now that I’ve passed the dog walking course, I can go whenever I want to help walk dogs. Next I’ll try to get into one of the cat socialization classes, and then it will be time for escort training.