December 19, 2013

7 great reasons for shoveling !#*%

Every Wednesday and Thursday I hurry out of bed and head over to the Oasis Animal Shelter where I spend the morning helping another volunteer clean kennels. My part of the job consists of shoveling big piles of poop out from the outdoor portions of each dog's run, while my coworker disinfects and hoses down the insides, sets down food, and fills each pail with fresh water. We coordinate our movements while allowing each dog some good quality run-around-the-yard, play-with-the-ball, sniff-around-the-fence, and bark-at-the-cats time (don't worry, the cats are outside the fence...and we put food and water out for them too).

This job has equipped me with a nuanced understanding of a range of canine excretions and how best to deal with them. Whisking up the really soft stuff on a humid July day requires a whole different set of techniques, for instance, than does scraping up frozen piles in sub-zero wind chill (the latter often helped along by a good kick from a heavy boot). All the "material" I remove from the pens is piled into a big plastic poop bucket and later washed down an outdoor drain in a soupy swirl of pungent goo. No bones about it: it's all pretty repulsive. When I start scooping I stop breathing through my nose, and generally don't start again until I'm out walking dogs. It's amazing the disgusting things you can handle if you eliminate their smell!

Despite what you might think from this description, the Oasis dogs are really well cared for. Their pens, which have space to move both inside and out, are cleaned three times daily. They do not go hungry or thirsty, they are warm in the winter, and music is left on for them when we leave. Veterinary care is given when needed. And unless the weather is REALLY bad, in addition to yard time, they get walked at least twice a week. Their lives would improve a lot with adoption, but until then they make do just fine.

Well that is all fine and good, but what really compels ME to return every week just to shovel more of their stinking !#*% for no pay? Ha!

Today I found 7 reasons:

#1. Chloe...

Quiet, intelligent, patient, disciplined, and great on a walk. When Chloe jumps up to give you loves, you know she really means it.

#2. Paddy.

A dedicated and exuberant player, she LOVES diving through the powdery snow.

#3. Buddy.

A booming voice and tough exterior belie a heart tender as a puppy's. Buddy is the perfect name for this big guy.

#4. Herbie.

Total sucker for a good belly rub...especially when it means he can also roll around in the snow!

#5. Ronnie.

A bit intense on a lead...especially when the ground is laced with deer track! You can always tell this girl means business.

#6. Sassy.

Scruffy little ball of fluff and affection...what's not to love? 

#7. Blade.

A big heart in a little body. When this feisty little chihuahua finally warmed up to me...transforming in weeks from a nervous introvert snarling in the corner, to my most eager and devoted Oasis friend...I was a goner. I ADORE this little guy!

There are lots more dogs at Oasis, and every single one provides another reason for me to put up with the early alarm, and the joyful need to scoop little piles of steaming !#*% for a couple of blessed mornings each week.