Sunday, 8 August 2004

Irish, i'm so sorry

i thought i'd seen the worst .. that should teach me
i ran off to the humane society this morning to put in my weekly quota of volunteer hours
for those of you are new to my ramblings on about the shelter, i volunteer there at least once a week for a few hours .. i'm trained in cat socialization and in canine healthcheck, where we process all incoming dogs, after their mandatory hold period, to find out if they're suitable for adoption .. we also vaccinate and check for any possible medical problems .. i've been doing this for almost a year and even though it has its ups and downs, i finally feel i'm pretty good at what i do and i no longer feel like i'm a "newbie liability" to the shelter
oh .. and i have a long-standing fear of big dogs .. the scar from a german shepherd on my chin, the scar from a saint bernard on my right foot might give you a clue as to why i'm fearful .. i now consider myself a cat person .. and a fish person .. and a hamster person lol
this morning. our first healthcheck was on a lab/retreiver mix .. a huge goofy male, that i ended up naming "Roy" .. "Big Boy Roy" .. he was timid and shaking at first, but finally warming up, content to sit at my feet while i typed in his vaccination dates and anything we noted about his behavior .. he's going to make some family extremely lucky to have found such a peaceful content dog
we'd only gotten through 2 dogs this morning when the super, Dennis, came in. saw me and said "well !! if it isn't our best loved volunteer !!" i laughed and told him if they really loved me they'd give me a raise .. at *least* 10 percent more than i'm making now .. "i think you deserve 15% percent more" .. we all laughed
then he informed us that we were to shut down healthcheck for the day .. the adoption kennels were full .. sometimes 1 dog per kennel, usually paired up, and if they're small, 3 to a kennel
instead we were to run over to adoptions and work on changing the dogs in the kennels, pairing them up with different dogs
why fix something that isn't broken was my thought .. if the dogs were getting along, why not just leave them?  because they can become too "content" with their new kennel buddy and may lose their social skills with other dogs .. they need to be paired up with different breeds, different personalities, different sizes and genders, so they stay on their toes and allows them to improve and practice their socialization skills .. in the end, it makes them just *that* much more adoptable knowing they can (and have) socialized with other dogs during their stay with us
the rub?  the shelter used to have a cap of 3 adult pitbulls in adoptions .. they recently removed the cap and today, we have 18 adult pitbulls in adoptions, some of them there over a month
as i'm typing this, i'm thankful that i'm no longer shaking .. the tears have subsided .. perhaps from the wine that i felt i deserved at 1:00 in the afternoon .. my tummy is still tied up in knots .. my heart is still breaking and i've realized it might take awhile to get over this one
ya know how you feel when something happens that you just *know* that its going to be one of those life defining moments?  one of those things that will never be replaced with newer memories .. one of those things that you have no doubt will end up effecting how you react in the future in similar situations?
yea .. its one of those .. me, recently feeling like my huge fear and caution of big dogs was finally replaced with knowledge (knowledge displaces fear .. did you know that?)
i'm not the victim .. i'm merely an innocent bystander .. the victim was Irish .. a beautiful gray pit bull mix that we healthchecked 2 weeks ago into adoption .. she has the sweetest demeanor for a pitbull mix that i've ever seen .. she got into a tangle last weekend with a more aggressive male pit so we quickly pulled her and put her in with a smaller male puppy so she could be the dominant
and now she's laying in the hospital .. sedated, her wounds cleaned and antibiotics started
it happened so quickly .. so very quickly .. the 3 dogs, all female pits, getting along wonderfully in the socialization area .. playing with toys, showing NO outward signs of even the mildest form of aggression .. until one of the dogs snapped .. pinning me in the corner with my pitbull who thankfully was still leashed .. the leash stuck on my wrist when they screamed at me to hand them my leash so they could pull my dog out of the mix .. they finally pulled out my girl, leaving me in the corner with the fighting pitbulls .. Irish frantically trying to get away from the pit that had a death grip on her neck
i finally ended up jumping over the 4 foot fence getting out of the way of being involved in the fight .. we had immediately called out a code 3 so thankfully the area was soon swarming with knowledgeable techs who succeeded in pulling the dogs apart
from what i understand, its going to be remembered as the worst dog fight in the history of the humane society
and my heart is breaking for Irish .. i was the one that decided she would do well in the pairing up .. there is no aggression in her that i've seen and felt she was a good candidate .. i stopped and saw her in the hospital before i left for home .. i'm guessing she doesn't blame me since she was still willing to give me a few kisses .. i'm hoping Dr Chad is going to work his miracles on her
after everything had finally calmed down i knew i couldn't go home .. first of all, i was an accident waiting to happen .. and i knew that if i went home now. after falling off the horse, that it might be a cold day in hell before i go back to the shelter
so i jumped back on the horse that threw me .. standing back this time so that MY fear didn't play a part in how the next set of dogs interacted .. i guess Dennis knew that we'd all be prone to being a little gun shy so he valiantly held our hands through the next set of pair ups .. and the next .. where we ended up having to break up yet another dog fight
i decided it was time to call it a day .. a million hours later
i'm thinking tomorrow i need to find time to go check on Irish .. and tell her again that i'm sorry

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