working together and pushing the boundaries of sheltering homeless animals.
Carol · Jan. 11, 2017
i am cold and i am tired. the dogs were upset last night with the windstorm and upset dogs are not conducive to human sleep.
three of our cats went out on trials...lillie and sammy went off together to see if they are a good match in their new adoptive home. and missy went off with one of our dedicated volunteers to see how she fits in with her new saints K9 brother and sister.
you never know how things will go when animals try to blend in new homes, usually they do really well...but we still always do a trial period just in case.
every night i have my dinner and every night oreo stands beside me and barks and barks.
here is the deal..i eat my dinner but leave a little behind and oreo then gets the plate or bowl to finish up the rest.
when he is done i take it back and he goes off for a nap.
life is good in oreo's world as long as he has an active participatory role in all of my meal plans.
we have a lot of animals..altho today we have three less than we did yesterday. i don't know how many animal related discussions were had today.
it is interesting being here on a day off..too tired to go do something useful, like pick up the pharmacy meds...not really interested in getting too involved in shelter stuff. so i just kind of slid around the periphery, the ebb and flow of shelter discussions and work quietly slipping around me.
let me tell you something..these guys take their jobs seriously. not only do dishes and laundry and floors and beds get washed and cleaned but animals are picked up and cuddled, toys are played with, baths are given, field runs in the snow happen, plans are made regarding healthcare, emotional care, end of life care.
it is interesting working within a communal shelter setting because there are two layers to care and enrichment..group needs and activities and individual needs and activities.
most shelters focus on individuals in individual settings. we focus on individuals in group settings.
i am an old rescue fart..i remember the days when shelters had each cat in its own individual cage and communals were dirty words full of issues like oh my god..germs.
and now cat communals are pretty much the norm.
i look forward to the day when shelters are able to offer dogs the benefits of communal care too.
communal care is in some ways a bit more work. you absolutely need to know your animals well. you absolutely need to ensure that the personalities and needs of the animals match. and you have to be able to equally focus on both the group and each individual.
but the benefits are huge...firstly dogs actually learn more from other dogs then they do from humans. one or two staff folks can provide a great deal more stimulation, activity and fun with a group of 5 dogs than they can working with each dog solely. and running around in a field is never as much fun when done all alone..way more fun to be running and playing with other dogs.
the dogs here take their cues from the others in their group. this can be really helpful in dealing with anxiety and depression of the dogs suddenly surrendered to shelters. when a new dog comes here..they settle and are part of their crew within a day or two. they understand other dogs more easily and read their feelings of relaxed camaraderie and put two and two together.
did you know that dogs have more mirror receptor cells then any other species? they developed these to aid them in living with humans but they also work with their own species. these mirror receptors allow dogs to view their world and reflect it back. happy human equals happy dog..happy group of dogs, happy individual dog...also known as dog survival tools in a human world.
it is the dogs who learn to blend themselves in, go with the flow by using those mirror receptors on how to interact in their environment to bring them positive results.
not all of our dogs can live communally..but the vast majority can and does.
what is the single thing we hear most from all of our countless visitors?
your animals are all so happy!
why are they happy? especially living in shelter care?
because they don't know they are living in a shelter..they think they are living in a home (even if it is a bit of an odd kind of home.)
dedicated staff and volunteers work hard together to make each animal feel at home...and they are successful..our animals tell us so.