Friday, August 05, 2005
Squeaky CleanWhen I first started working at the Oakland SPCA, a large chunk of my day was spent cleaning kennels and feeding the dogs.
When we hired kennel attendants, the other CAs and I were excited at the prospect of doing little to no daily cleaning. We'd have more time to spend training, socializing, and evaluating dogs.
Today, I found myself cleaning our Real Life Room. This is a room where we teach our dogs their compulsories as well as a place they can hang out with a person in a "real life" environment. The Real Life room sports a desk with a computer, a futon, a bookshelf and a crate. It unfortunately tends to collect dirt, dog hair, and partially chewed rawhides at a distressing rate. Every so often, we finally go in and give the room a thorough cleaning. Today, I did the job.
Shelter work has fantastic highs and devastating lows and it can often be hard to see the results of your work. Dogs get adopted, but what seems at first like a happy ending can result in an animal's return weeks, months or even years later. Too often, dogs with behavioral issues cannot be deemed adoptable and we watch our weeks of hard work end with a stuttering breath and a still body. It can be hard to feel as if you're actually making a difference to anyone.
Perhaps that was why I found this little task of cleaning a room strangely satisfying. It was the first time in days I was able to step back and see from beginning to end, an immdiately improved and finished product.
It felt really good.