Thursday, February 11, 2010

Not Such A Bad Place ?or is it?

So as I briefly mentioned last post, we had a boy named Jokester. Our sweet Border Collie got a home and was scheduled to be returned since our little fella seemed to have some seperation anxiety. Now seperation anxiety isn't little fido or fifi going poop in your shoes or just barking through the day or even deciding to TP the inside of your house (that's just them having some fun.:)) Seperation anxiety is more towards breaking through the glass window or jumping off the 2nd story balcony or eating half the door jam trying to get out of the house to (most likely) find you or SOMEONE. [thankfully my girl just runs away when a door is left glass breaking or door chewing so far]

Jokester seemed to be tearing the house apart when mom & dad left even for an hour. We had set up our boys room for his return and my concerns of course immediately ran amuck wondering how long it would take for someone to be able to work with his issue! The day came when Jokester was to come in and lo and behold the people loved him so much they took off work and decided to work with him on his anxiety and are letting him have more free reign in the house and leaving him for brief intervals to get him used to being alone. They let us know he is getting better. Those are the kind of pet owners one hopes all our kids get.

I came up with an idea long ago that I dubbed Special Needs Animals. These are dogs (and sometimes cats)that have either been here a long time and/or are those who are showing some signs of needing more. More of something, everything. More exercise, more rest, more mental stimulation, more companionship/quiet time. They DO get all these things at the shelter..but not always enough. Often, just getting their basic needs taken care of like clean housing and bedding, food, medicine, potty time out in a play yard and getting them introduced to potential adopters, is all we have time for in the day. The special needs animals are to have some one on one time with a staff member everyday. I usually get 25-30 min of solid play time or quiet time or even obstacle course time with at least one of them...on a good day I'll do 2 special needs animals and still get to sit with a couple others for 10-15 min. Those days are my favorites.

Our 3 girls Coraline, Boobahla, and Lady, along with the lovely, sweet, thick, busty, white with a batman mask, ball of rolling thunder (that's labled an Am. Bulldog but is in my view just a beautiful bully mutt) named Cheekaleeka are all on the Special Needs list, as is the ASP Pitty Boon whom Boobahla beats the crap out of. Each of these kids have started to show obvious stress signs.

Coraline our Husy has her girlfriend Boobala and they always play together since they both need a serious expenditure of energy and that is the best tool we have..other dogs. One day we decided to give them a really big yard....not quite remembering that Coraline has jumped fences. Well Boobahla this day was apparently not enough entertainment to keep Coraline around. I guess all the pulling on the ears wasn't as enjoyable as jumping the fence and taking off to siff out a squirrel, a gopher, the countryside, or the oceanside for that matter. Everyone was distraught once we realized our girl had gone AWOL and we had people out driving around looking for her and creating posters to make sure people would know where she belongs. Unfortunately we couldn't find her and all we could do is wait. Well a Husky likes to roam and explore so who knows how far she went but she was a mess when she was found HANGING AROUND IN FRONT OF THE SHELTER the next morning! How happy we all were to know she came back to us as if we were "home" and she was saying "I'm done playing now, can I have breakfast"? Our girl got to hang out up front that day which I thought was an odd reprimand for running away :) and she was zonked out all day. Silly beast. She has started some whining and a little over aroused nipping and has started to shred some of her bedding again. She gets exercise and campanionship/quiet time.

Boobahla is still jumpy and crazy and has gotten a little to rough at times with Coraline. She gets lots of quiet/companion time. She's now got some belly issues and currently there seems to be no medical problem so it could be stress. She's been with us to long..she needs her forever home soon. My sweet lioness.

Lady has been going up front to stay with the front office gang since she does so well up there. She settles right down onto her blanket and plays with her toys and is well behaved and not barking at kids and other dogs and often is snoozing away right next to the filing cabinet. She is doing pretty well compared to the increasing signs of stress from the others.

My Boon, whom I ADORE (I'm a pitty lover)is starting to jump much more and try a lot of muzzle punching which is when a dog jumps up to pop you in the eye or mouth or anywhere else they can get to on your face. Trust me Boon may not be tall but ole boy's got enough muscle in that butt and legs of his that he can easily reach the nose on my 5'8" frame. I swear he's got the jumping power of a flea! He's gets relax time and more play time.

Then there is my Cheekaleeka who has been with us awhile and though she is hanging in there pretty well she has a tendancy to look depressed when she's not with someone. When she is with you she hops up and down with her back legs on the ground. She reminds me of one of those souped up cars that can bounce. That's what she looks like when you enter her kennel. She gets soooo excited and will kiss you all over and chase her toys and chew on her rawhides. She does none of those things when alone. If not interacted with, she just stands at her kennel with this blank look on her face and none of theat bubbly personality shows through. You want to make everyone see just how funny and lovable she is when she's not just staring at you with this stoic look on her face through the gate. She gets mostly lovins/campanion time.

I think we may have a couple more to add to special needs as we've noticed one of our IT Greyhound mix gettting much more dog reactive and he is trying his best to jump up and pop you in the face and grab his leash in his mouth and jump up and pop you in the face and oh did I mention he tries to jump up and pop you in the face? He needs it, exercise, mental stimulation... OY my poor Coopy..he's a pistol.

It's an interesting dynamic here at the shelter. On one hand you Watch some dogs come out of their shell here and blossom and that keeps one feeling good but when you see the reverse, where they started out here happy and fairly well behaved then after so much time they start to stress, and stress, and stress. It makes me think of a drip on a rock. The drip doesn't look like it's wearing away at the rock because it's just a drip but after months of drips that rock has been worn away.
We have had dogs who actually didn't want to leave. We've had dogs that leave and come back..even voluntarily. We've had dogs change in ways that were disheartening to us and difficult to witness. Within the life of a shelter dog maybe there was once a thought "this ain't such a bad place" but when compared to a real home a pooch may coem bacj and say "isn't it?" There's the good and bad, black and white to all of life, it's the grey I have a hard time with.
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More on the others later
Be kind to your animals
Thanks for reading

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