Sunday, March 8, 2009

Volunteering at the shelter

Last week while spending some time at the Maplewood/South Orange animal shelter, I was bitten while taking a cute cocker spaniel mix on a walk. The bite required a trip to the emergency room and four stitches. The event was a real eye-opener (in more ways than one) and made me realized that you can't assume that a dog doesn't have a past and no matter to what degree you consider yourself a "dog whisperer," unpredictable behavior is just a second away. 

Going into work with a brace and ace bandage contraption around my thumb and wrist brought on lots of questions about what could have possibly happened to me. The general reply I would give is, "I was petting a dog at the animal shelter I volunteer at with my left hand and it turned around and bit me on my right. I didn't know this, but apparently this dog had been abused before coming to the shelter. Sad – huh?" Then I would get the reply, "Oh my gosh! Do you have your rabies shot?" Then I would hesitate and say, "Yes, I had a TETANUS shot about a year ago." So funny! 

The other question I got a few times was if I would go back to volunteer. My reply to that one was "Of course." There is such a need at this no-kill shelter and I am so glad to be a part of it. I joined in Jan. 2008 and have found that whatever you can contribute, they will accept gladly. So I walk the dogs, clean cages (sometimes), buy supplies like dog collars, cat litter, and poop bags and donate our New York Times in bundles. Steve and I have gone to the shelter occasionally which is only five minutes away from our house to cut grass, pull weeds and sweep the parking lot. Steve loves spotting the ferrel cats that mingle in the woods surrounding the shelter and I often have to tell him to stay on task of the yard work! The shelter feeds these cuties and offers outside housing from the cold. Once Steve and I were picking up trash along the street and hurling huge limbs further back into the woods and saw four deer admiring our work. Ahhhh, nature! Anyways, the shelter has its hands full with its limited paid staff and I truly feel like what I do is a community service and is so rewarding. I also get to play with lots of cute dogs, puppies, cats and kittens. Four stitches in just a year's time I think is a pretty good average. Have a look for yourself (click photo for a larger view):


jbranch said...

I am glad that you are going to continue to volunteer. Dogs are such loving animals, for the most part. I am going to call you this evening to see how you are.

Amy L said...

Well, I for one was hoping you would give it up lol! Just kidding partly, just don't want you to get hurt.