Volunteering at a Los Angeles City shelter has been illuminating in many ways. There have been challenging, trying, sad, happy, and rewarding times. I have witnessed both the best and worst in humanity. I have got to meet more amazing dogs (and cats) than probably most people will meet in a lifetime.
Learning more about dogs and watching their behavior in the kennel has taught me a lot more about humans and our behaviors, our supposed wants, our definite needs. We all want security, trust, and to feel safe. We all react in different ways when those needs are not met… and others make snap judgments about us instantly based on their perceptions, needs, wants, and quick assessments.
This past Saturday, the “Clear The Shelters Event,” was declared an enormous success. Unofficially, I’ve heard that the shelter at which I volunteer, collectively got 29 cats, 36 dogs, and 1 rabbit out, to hopefully the great homes. A total of 66 animals! On Saturday, I personally had a direct hand in 5 big dog adoptions, and loved the personality and disposition of each dog I introduced.
Sunday was a different story for me, every person I chatted with or introduced a dog to seemed to be just window-shopping. One particular lovely couple, though they seemed to really like one of my favorite dogs, after a 30-minute meet and greet, they told me they’d be back in a few weeks.
“Honestly, I hope he’s not here in a few weeks,” I stated. “No offense. But I hope someone comes in an hour from now, crazy about him, and takes him home. A couple weeks for this guy is a long time, and he’s already been here too long.”
They understood my meaning… it was about a love for the dog, not an insult to them.
Anyway, so Sunday was beginning to feel like a waste of time… Though I was able to get some long-timers out of their kennels, walk them, show them, allow a few of them to run around, or jump in a pool.
But just before I was about to clock-out for the day, I saw the white eyes of a black shadowy dog. I stopped. Did a double take. Looked at his kennel card. Whoever this particular black boxer mix was, apparently had been AVAILABLE for the past 15 days… and yet for some bizarre reason, although I had probably passed by his kennel at least 50 times in that time period, I had never noticed him.
I re-read his kennel card, and everything seemed okay for me to take him out and get to know him.
I opened the gate to leash up the sweetest, calmest dog.
When he exited his kennel, I finally got a good look at him… Absolutely gorgeous! And still calm, he didn’t panic, race, pull, or seem to notice the other dogs.
We walked past several other key volunteers and staff members, and NO ONE, not one of them knew the dog either… “Where was he?” “Who’s that?” “He’s stunning.”
For some reason, of which I may never be aware of, that particular dog had been passed by ALL OF US. Had I known of him a day earlier, within a minute of meeting him, I just knew I would have been able to get him out the day earlier, and 67 might have gone home that day.
Perhaps he had been hiding in the back of his kennel, and today, just before I was going to leave, while I was wondering why I had volunteered that particular day, maybe he sensed something from me and stepped forward. Or maybe he was near a real loud barking dog that always distracted attention from him… I truly don’t know. What I do know was he was AMAZING. Trained. Sweet. And EVERYONE commented about how beautiful he was. He was incredibly skinny, so possibly he had been hiding, terrified… (Video link of him at bottom of post)
I spent some time with him, knowing he just needed to be seen outside his kennel and within a half-hour we had bonded. He had more pride in his step, and he sat with me and pleasantly met everyone who passed by. Unfortunately there just weren’t enough people looking for dogs.
Before I went I made sure to highlight him to the other volunteers who were there, and sent out a blast to some key big dog volunteers that weren’t, promising the dog he wouldn’t be there long now that several of us knew about him… but that he had to do his part to and not hide in the back anymore.
Anyway, like magic, just a couple hours after I got home, I got a text from one of the volunteers, just letting me know that he introduced the dog to his new FUREVER FAMILY and he was going HOME ♡♥♡♥♡♥♡♥♡♥♡.
It made all of Sunday worth going in…
We don’t know how we will affect people or animals, and we’re not always able to see or hear the results… Sometimes we just have to trust that good actions lead to good things, that kindness may not be rewarded instantly, but ultimately may connect to bright shinny happiness for others. While television and society constantly highlights, rewards and glorifies some of the worst, dishonest, narcissistic, selfish, environmentally damaging, and corrupt human behaviors… somewhere right now, someone is doing something unselfish and beautiful… which the effects of that symbolic pebble tossed into a metaphorical pond may send ripples of kindness, love and joy to others for years and years to come.
BTW was it ironic the sweet black dog’s shelter name was Zorro, not because of his color, but because he could obviously hide in plain sight?
– Quiche Out
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PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Please microchip your animals, the shelter is stuffed with strays that belonged to someone convinced their dog or cat would never run away. Every day someone is walking around in tears aimlessly hoping to discover their lost animal, like a needle in a haystack. Don’t be that person. Microchip your animals and keep information current. It’s quick. Inexpensive. Easy.
Read here for more info about microchipping… http://www.laanimalservices.com/general-information/microchipping/
Information about volunteering at one of six LA City Shelters…
Video of Zorro on our first meet up…
Video of Henny in the pool, from Sunday
Video of Loki, chilling, from this past Sunday