Posts Tagged ‘Pitbulls’

Reflections of a Dog Walking Volunteer

Posted in Uncategorized on September 12th, 2009 by katie – Be the first to comment

It’s been several weeks since I started walking dogs at BARCS and I am loving it. Any apprehensions I had at the beginning about handling the dogs are gone and I feel confident knowing how to deal with any situation I am not comfortable with. There are so many super sweet dogs!

I’ve stopped by a few times on the way home from lab just for an hour or so to try to get a few dogs walked. One of the things that strikes me every time is how snuggly they are. If I had been cooped up for like that I would be going crazy! Most of them are eager to get outside, but then once they’re out, they just want some lovin’. Many learn how to sit, which is great.

Another thing that’s been absolutely fantastic is the interaction I’ve had with other volunteers. On Labor Day I went in for a few hours and there were 6 or 7 other volunteers there and we were able to get every dog walked! The other times I’ve been in during the week I’ve been disappointed to see that many dogs haven’t been walked at all that day, and some not for 1-2 days. I’ll definitely try to keep going in at the end of the day during the week whenever I can, even if it’s just to get a few dogs out.

A few dogs have really caught my attention so far, and I often wonder how they’re doing. One is “Papa”, who is an adorable brindle puppy with a big wide muzzle. He was ridiculously cute. I know he was adopted because his new owner came to get him one day while I was out walking him. Another was “Mona,” who was a very sweet, well behaved pit mix. She was all white except for a black spot over one eye and ear and another spot on her back. And then there was “Cagney,” who was the emaciated honey I met on my second day of dog walking training. Those dogs were all gone within a week or so, and I really hope they went to wonderful homes.

One thing that I try really hard not to let it bother me is that lots of animals are pulled to go to other shelters. The Maryland SPCA comes several times a week and pulls the best dogs and cats and takes them to their shelter on Falls Road. I know that this should make me happy, because these animals will still be adopted and will even have better visibility there, but I can’t help but feel a bit deflated that they just come in and pick all the good ones. I guess I shouldn’t be so selfish, but when people comment that BARCS doesn’t have any good dogs, or it’s all pit bulls, I am annoyed because it’s like, well where do you think all the other dogs went? They got adopted right away or went to MD SPCA!

For example, LaFayette is a great dog with tons of energy who was at BARCS for a few days before being scooped up by MD SPCA. This is his MD SPCA online listing:

LaFayette MDSPCA

He was removed from their website within a few days, so I bet he was adopted immediately. I keep searching their site for other dogs I might recognize. It’s a big struggle in my mind, because I want to be sure that the dogs are okay but at the same time it’s like, maybe I don’t want to know what’s happened to them and I won’t pursue it too far. One of the other volunteers told me that she tries not to even remember their names because she doesn’t want to get too attached.

I think I’m going to continue to just try to be optimistic and assume that none of the animals being euthanized are ones that I have met, and that each dog is going to a wonderful family that will love them and shelter them forever. I am really hoping that becoming an escort does not burst this bubble for me.

Escort Training

Posted in Uncategorized on September 12th, 2009 by katie – Be the first to comment

This afternoon I attended the escort training at BARCS, which is required to help with showing animals to potential adopters. There were about 8 or 9 of us at the training class, which was a good sign. The volunteer coordinator told us about all the rules for escorting, for example that people should not stick their hands or fingers into the cages, even though *everyone* is going to want to do that. Only one family can be escorted at a time, and they have to stay together at all times. I can already tell that this is going to be challenging, especially when there are children involved mixed with an endless supply of fascinating and adorable animals.

There was quite a selection of horror stories about dealing with the public (the Baltimore public, at that) but I am determined to give it a try and hope that many of my fears will be assuaged once I get the hang of things. That’s what happened with dog walking, after all. Hopefully there will always be enough good to outweigh the bad.

One thing that they warned about is people who are there looking for a “free petting zoo.” This hadn’t occurred to me either, but obviously if you’re just there to play with some animals, and not interested in adopting, it is a huge waste of time! There are real people out there waiting to adopt animals, and there are countless animals needing attention at any moment.

After the meeting we went on a brief tour, and I got to see the new layout. Now, all the cats are in the same general area since they’re remodeling and rearranging last week. Now that I’ve been walking dogs for a while, I’ve gotten to see how high the turnover is, so I am very optimistic about the dogs. I still haven’t done the cat socialization training, though, and whenever I see the cats I get so overwhelmed because of the sheer number of homeless cats. You might be standing in a room with 20 cages, but within each cage is a mother and her kittens, so really that number starts to get multiplied and that’s how many cats there are needing homes. I saw a beautiful all white mother cat today with her one day old kitten. It was so tiny! There are just so many…

At the end of the training session I wasn’t sure I was ready to really do it on my own, so I asked if there was anyone we could shadow a couple of times to get the hang of it, so another volunteer and I shadowed one of the staff members for two adoption visits. The first was a young couple interested in adopting a dog. The first thing he did was ask them if there was anything in particular that they were looking for. They said they already had a dog at home and were looking for a large dog to be a companion for the one they already have.  He walked them around the three large kennel rooms, and at the end he asked if there were any dogs that they wanted to take a look at, but they said no. He showed them out and gave them a brochure listing the other shelters in the area and encouraged them to check back frequently because we bring in 30-50 animals per day so the available animals are always changing.

I was extremely disappointed that they didn’t find a dog that they liked. The staff member I was shadowing was very laid back, and had a wonderful, calm, assertive energy about him. He was great at giving subtle suggestions without being pushy. I am definitely not as subtle as he is… I will have to learn. My first instinct was to lecture them that pit bulls are wonderful dogs and don’t ever judge a breed like that. Instead, he agreed that “yes, there are a lot of pit bulls, and in the 80′s it was shepherds, and in the 90′s it was Rottweilers. It’s the humans that create the viscious reputation. In Britain, they call them “Nanny Dogs” because they look after the children.”

Afterward, I remarked that I doubted I could ever have his patience. He told me that he is “not here to be a used car salesman,” so he will never try to encourage people to adopt a certain animal, because that way if the adoption does not work out, they will not come back blaming BARCS for encouraging them to adopt a bad animal. I hadn’t considered it that way at all, so I’ll definitely have to keep it in mind, and try to take deep breaths and think before I speak.

Next we escorted a group interested in adopting a cat. They ended up taking over an hour, but we’re not supposed to rush people… I guess it just bothered me that that’s time that could be spent helping the animals. Even though the staff member I was shadowing showed them several cats that he knew were great, they wanted to look in every cage, and were very indecisive, and ultimately were interested in a kitten that was not even available for adoption because it was too young. It frustrated me that we spent that much time and neither group ended up adopting an animal.

All in all it was a very educational experience. While I am fairly apprehensive about working with the Baltimore City public, it was not enough to scare me off completely… at least for now. I hope to give it a try during the week sometime when it’s a little quieter, and build up some confidence from there.

Another fun “Find the Pit Bull” quiz

Posted in Uncategorized on September 9th, 2009 by katie – Be the first to comment

Many interesting breeds here

Pitbulls: Saving America’s Dog

Posted in Uncategorized on August 18th, 2009 by katie – Be the first to comment

Check out the link on this webpage of DogTown trainer John Garcia and one of Michael Vick’s former dogs, Georgia on Larry King Live!