Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Perhaps I Should Rethink This Volunteering Thing...

A while ago M mentioned that she really felt that we ought to do some volunteering somewhere considering how fortunate we are. I mean, we're both employed and have a pretty good life. Which is something a lot of people can't say right now. Plus she was moved by Obama's election and his call to service, or whatever it was. I shrugged it off, but apparently serious about the idea and kept mentioning it. A couple of weeks later, we were at the local chapter of the Humane Society and a light went off in my head. We could volunteer, help out some people and animals, which I generally like and doesn't involve the smelly variety of the former group. This I can do. Quite altruistic no? She was on board, so off we go.

Surprisingly, the Humane Society has a pretty involved process for volunteering. You just don't show up and say, "Hey, I want to help!" You have to fill out an application, which is quite detailed, go through an interview and orientation process (and I'm skipping over how many scary, lonely, cat ladies where there for that) then have a mentor guide you through how things work hands on. All good right? Not with me my friends, not with me.

My mentor and I meet up, sign in and she goes through the processes on how to decide what dog to take out, what you're supposed to do, blah blah blah. So we pick out two dogs that are kennel mates since they should get along fine. Off we go to get them out. She runs me through how I should try and maneuver a single dog out of the kennel and gives a little demonstration of how she does it (keep in mind this lady weighs about 95 pounds and is as thin as a rail). She slides in and out no problems (that's what he said!), easy peasy right? Wrong

When you have two dogs who are batshit about wanting to go outside, it isn't all that easy to just slide in. I think you can see where this is going. On my first try to get into the kennel to get one dog on the leash, one of them made a break for it. No big deal, the kennels are enclosed by wrought iron fence for this very reason. Which would be great, if someone hadn't left a gate open. So this wily little bastard of a dog got out into open space. Luckily he ran straight to another volunteer out walking a dog and we managed to corral him and I managed to get the other dog out without incident.

Score: Dogs 1, Me 0

Next, the mentor walks me around the grounds with the dogs, showing me the different areas that we have access to and the route she usually walks when she has an animal out. From there, we head into one of the exercise yards to let the dogs play. Should be no problem since the dogs are kennel mates and are together all the time. Again, wrong. One of the dogs goes completely aggro on the other dog and attacks. It's getting pretty vicious and the attacking dog isn't responding to just verbal commands to stop. So like I would at the dog park, I intervene and pull the attacking dog off. After the dog mellows out, I let it go and everything is fine. But the mentor tells me that I went about it all wrong and that I shouldn't intervene in a situation like that so hands on, that I'm supposed to just use verbal commands and try to separate them using kicks or something. Uhhh well, OK. That seems contrary to everything I've ever read about breaking up a dog fight, not to mention stupid and a good way to injure the dog or get yourself attacked.

In any case, we were able to let them finish playing and get them back to their kennel without further incident.

Score: Dogs 2, Me 0

For our last dog, we went to one of the bigger dogs. Part of their training of dogs is to try teach them to be calm and behave as best as possible considering they spend most of their days inside a kennel. This makes sense since no one's going to want to adopt a dog that's constantly spun out while they are being viewed. Guess what kind of dog this one was?

No matter how calm I was, this dog was just a complete maniac inside its kennel. Jumping around, jumping up on the door, barking, etc. The mentor said I should just enter and try and calm the dog down once inside. One of the things they teach is to turn your back to the dog when it jumps on you until it gets the idea that jumping is bad. Pretty soon I was spinning around inside the kennel like a top since the dog was jumping so much. In addition, she was doing great stuff like mouthing my legs, ankles and arms. Nothing I did to try to get this dog calmed down worked.

After about 3 minutes of this, I ended up covered in piss and shit in addition to accomplishing exactly, well, nothing. Other than getting this dog wound up like a top of course. At this point, the mentor took pity on me and told me to just come out. {sigh}

Final score: Dogs 3, Me 0

At this point we went back into the facility and she ran through a sort of review of things I needed to work on. So, basically, everything. She was very gracious and supportive, saying that this was a very atypical experience and that we'd just had some bad luck with what had happened. Surprisingly, she actually signed off on me working by myself. She obviously doesn't realize the human apocalypse that she's released.

Next time I volunteer, I'll probably end up burning the place down inadvertently. Maybe I should just stick with the cats.


Big Daddy said...

I would recommend you find some soup kitchen to work in. Why do I think this? I have worked in one a number of times and have never, ever, ever, ever said ". . . I ended up covered in piss and shit. . ." at the end of my volunteering. A soup kitchen, you might get a little dirty from cleaning some pots and pans. Anyway - just one man's opinion. Welcome back btw.

country roads said...

Do they have fish at this shelter? Perhaps you can tend those.

I've missed you man!

onthevirg said...

BD - Yeah, I'm beginning to think animals was a bad choice.

And thanks.

Country - If only. Though with my luck, they'd be piranha or man-eating sharks.

Thanks dude.