I’ve been a volunteer at my local animal shelter for over a year now and I continue to love it. The environment is of course challenging, but that makes my time there feel even more worthwhile.
All of us who help out there, including the staff, have our favorites. Some don’t make it out, but a lot get adopted or rescued, especially because we’ve taken the time to find out more about them. Joe Public comes in every day looking at the dogs and cats. Some are just looking, some are looking for lost pets, some for replacements of lost pets, and some are looking for a new member of their family. We try and engage them in conversation, see if they’re looking for something in particular, ask if they have any questions, because the more we can find out about them, the better we can help them find a good match to take home. Quite often people say they’re waiting to find the one that connects with them… and I know exactly what they mean.
I’d had my eye on a funny quiet little dog with unusual coloring and intense, soulful eyes. Her intake date was February 1. She is Corgi mixed with I don’t know what, about 2 years old. I really liked her, I don’t know why, but I REALLY liked her. So back in early March, I picked her and several other dogs and cats for an adoption program on a local radio network. We named her Lucy. All the other dogs went, one by one, but no-one took Lucy home. Each time I was at the shelter, I’d go see her, spend a few minutes with her. She was calm and sweet, she had roommates, so was seemingly good with other dogs. But as time passed, things changed. One day someone wrote “food aggressive, feed separately” on her kennel card, I started to worry. Shelter life is no good, it wears their little spirits down until they’re all used up.
A couple of weeks ago, we took her (and about 29 other dogs) to a big adoption event. But Lucy couldn’t hang with the noise and the multitude of chihuahuas and terriers, she growled at them, snarled at them, was not happy at all. I separated her from the crowd and set her aside in a crate with two other small and frightened dogs, and she settled. But no-one took Lucy home, no-one even wanted to look at her, no matter what I said it was clear she was invisible to everyone else. I knew her time had all but run out. So that night, I took her home with me, intending to foster and start networking to find her a forever home.
She was clingy and intolerant of my two big girl dogs, and, yes, food aggressive. But within two days these shelter habits began to fall away, she stopped being food aggressive and relaxed, found some toys and found herself again.
We fell in love with her. She is very people friendly, she doesn’t hardly bark at all, she’s good with other dogs, she’s playful, smart, responsive, house-trained, sits, walks well, and makes us laugh so much. Last Thursday (after only 7 days) we knew she belonged here and so we’ve adopted her.
Click Lucy to see a little video of her playing fetch with her Platypus toy.
From my fostering experiences, I’m always telling folks that all shelter dogs need time in their new home to truly reveal themselves, and now I have Lucy’s tale to recount. So if you’re looking for a new four-legged someone to join your family, please come to your local animal care and control center and ask a maroon-shirted volunteer or blue-shirted staff member, who their favorite is. You are quite likely to discover a treasure just waiting for you.