Yo Hablo Espanol...sort of
Here at the Oakland Adoption center we see an incredibly diverse rainbow of clients. It is one of the reasons I love working here! The downside is that some folks who come looking to add a new companion to their lives do not speak English. I can speak enough Spanish to get by, and this comes in pretty handy from time to time. It is also a real gift to be able this year to hand out Spanish language materials to all our adopters.
I am always so amazed at a client's delight when I greet them in Spanish with "Puedo aydarle?" which is "Can I help you?" From there we muddle through with my Spanish and a little English and some gesturing and referencing to the written materials we have.
Last weekend there were a couple and two children in to look at a dog. They had never had a dog before and the Canine Associates had them out with several dogs. Finally, they decided on one they wanted and I was asked to come and do the "dog talk." That is the conversation to help folks plan for success in bringing home a new dog.
We actually had a great conversation. They were very patient with my frequent search for the right word. They asked great questions. At the end they placed a dog on hold while overnight they reviewed the Spanish packet I gave them. The next morning I got a call on my office phone. They thanked me for the time spent with them and the great information. They had decided to really think more about having a dog and were not ready at this time.
In my opinion, this is a great outcome.
There is nothing that makes me happier than when people really take seriously the commitment to an animal. I am pretty sure I will see this family again one day, and I am confident they will be ready.
A todos que venir para visitar los animales, gracias para pensar en los animales aqui.
Si, necesita alguien quien habla espanol, me llamo Nann y hablo bastante espanol para tener una conversacion y decir bien venidos.
It will happen again.
Well...we knew it would happen. We knew it from the beginning. It wasn't a question of 'if'...it was only a question of 'when'. And then it happened.
Friday night. Somewhere in Oakland. A dog on our Paws to Consider
program got lost. (We started this program over a year ago. It allows people to take a dog or cat home for a "test drive" before making the life time committment to adopt them. The dog or cat is still legally ours, but they get to spend a week with him or her to see how things go. Most of didn't fall in love with our spouse or partner in an hour, so we think our furry friends deserve an equal chance of finding the right match.)
We got the call Friday evening, but it happened sometime in the morning. Left outside, unattended with the resident dog for an hour, they pulled the gate back and escaped. The resident dog came back, but our dog did not. Unfortunately, they had taken off the collar and id tag we had given them, but the dog was microchipped (as all animals in our program are.)
Luckily, that night our shelter manager put up "lost dog" signs in the neighborhood and the next morning, a neighbor called saying she had the dog and all was well.
Do we get rid of the program because one dog gets lost? Gosh, no. Many otherwise unlucky dogs and cats got their perfect home through this great program. Do we continue to educate our clients about not leaving dogs outside unattended even for a moment, especially when the dog is new? For sure.
And I'm sure it will happen again...
Don't talk to strangers...
Blog entry by: Jessica, an Oakland, Customer Care Associate...
In the shelter, we actually prefer the opposite of our dogs. We want them to talk to strangers. So long as they do it politely.
A lot of people come in and out of the shelter on a daily basis to look at our dogs and cats. This, as you can imagine, can be a little overwhelming. In order to help with shyness, timidness, or just plain fear of strangers we have to do "Stranger Desensitizing." What that means is that we have the dogs meet different people so that they can be more prepared for whatever may come their way in their future.
For example, our dogs work with the same trainers day in and day out. So it isn't uncommon for the dog to become comfortable with a particular employee. To spice things up a bit for the dogs the trainers will alter their appearances to see how the dog fairs.
In these pictures, CW and CH have dressed up a bit to become more 'stanger-like' for a dog they are working with. While it may look silly, it does, in fact, serve a purpose.
"We try to expose them to everything they might experience in real life. We try to make the experience positive for them by reinforcing the meeting with treats. " - CW
The dog in the picture is Darrin. He is up for adoption but not actually the dog they were working with. He just wanted to show what a party animal he is! :)
So next time you're in the shelter, please stop by one of our "Kennel Enrichment " treat jars and give a friendly, treat-accompanied " Hello!" to some of our dogs. Even by saying " Hi " you're helping a dog find a loving home!
We wish them well.
The East Bay SPCA takes in cats and dogs only. We do this because we feel this is where the biggest problems still exist in terms of over pet population. It isn't because we don't like rabbits, birds, reptiles or other pocket pets.
It seems the hawks that are living in one of our trees didn't get that memo. It appears to be a family, with mom and some babies. The babies even come down to the grass and allow us to get within a few feet of them before flying away.
They are quite a sight to see and we wish them well.
Moving. Can't Keep.
As I am no longer an employee at the East Bay SPCA, I'm cheating a little by writing this. But, as the entry below this one reminds, rules were sometimes meant to be broken.
I'm writing from Cleveland, Ohio, where I recently relocated from the Bay Area. My fiancee and I packed all our belongings into boxes, watched everything we owned vanish onto a moving truck, and then piled ourselves into our Honda Civic Hybrid. The two of us and our four dogs.
One of the most common reasons for surrendering animals in the Bay Area is 'Moving'. Sometimes the explanations go a tad further, specifying 'Moving Out of State' or 'Moving Out of Country' or even pinpointing the destination, 'Moving to Florida'. I think the hope is that the shelter, when hearing or reading these explanations, will solemnly nod its collective head and murmur, 'Oh yes. Pets couldn't possibly travel all that way with you. Too much trouble, too much work.' The truth is, however, that shelter workers view reasons such as 'moving' with about the same level of tolerance the average population might if you said, "I'm afraid I'll have to give up my son. We're moving, you know." Pets are part of the family, and their lifespans are an awkward length. Too short to spend your entire life with a single, beloved animal, (unless your pet happens to be a parrot or macaw), and too long not to encounter some sort of life-changing event during their stay with us. When someone takes on the responsibilty of a pet, shelter workers would like to see that responsibility extend beyond what is easiest.
I write to you from the other side, and with photographic proof that yes, moving--even moving across the country--can be done with pets in tow.
A picture of me and the four dogs in our rental in California, about four or five days before the move.
Day One on the road. Ichabod and Pantaliamon prefer laps.
Wren falls asleep in funny poses.
Aslan likes to look out the front window from the back seat.
Clancy drives and looks all cool.
The follow four photos are from our first night in a motel. We stayed at an Express Inn in Winemucka, Wyoming, and pets were allowed to stay for free. Wren especially seemed to like the beds. I'm not sure what's going on in the photo where Clancy and all the dogs are looking in the same direction. Maybe someone in the other room thumped on the wall?
Day Two on the road. Wren still likes to sleep in funny poses.
Now I'm driving. Can you spot the Pan?
The motel for the second night was a Best Western in Cheyenne, Utah. They charged a $5 fee per dog to stay the night. In this motel you had to get to your room through indoor corridors, so the woman behind the desk was nice enough to give us a room that was right next to one of the side doors. Perfect for early morning potty breaks. I was, apparantly, very tired. P.S. Alex, do you recognize the shirt?
Look, we're just all so freakin' cute.
This truck will kill us all! Actually, it was a truck toting another truck front behind it, but for a second it scared the pants off me.
This rainbow was awesome. It's one of the few I've actually gotten to see entirely, the arch stretching from one side of the road to the other.
Asland decides to sleep on the floor for a while. P.S. KP, recognize the bucket?
A closeup of Pan on my lap.
Check out the sign in the lefthand corner of this picture. Kind of dubious, don't you think?
We stayed at one other motel in Nebraska, but I fell asleep without taking pictures. It was another Motel that had corridors and, once again, we werer given a room near a side door for our convenience. The man behind the desk, a dog owner himself, even gave us a little extra discount.
We found all of these places in the AAA book 'Traveling With Your Pet' that has listings of every waypoint in every town in every state that allows pets.
Was it a little bit harder to go cross country wth four dogs? Probabaly. But my new place would have been painfully empty if they'd stayed behind.
Rules are meant to be broken aren't they?
I'm the "rule" queen around here. I think rules, procedures, and policies are critical to ensuring consistent quality of care for our animals, our employees, our clients and our volunteers. Having procedures seems bureaucratic to some, but it also provides a level of professionalism and consistency that eliminates a lot of confusion, frustration and questions. New employees often get overwhelmed by the number of procedures we have and wonder why we have so many. But after a while, they understand that they are all there for a reason to prevent some misunderstanding or problem.
Our dogs are fed at 4pm.
Our poop buckets are kept in the same place each day.
Our cats get towels after spay neuter surgery, but cats in isolation do not.
Our volunteers wear aprons to keep them clean and identify them.
Our employees wear shirts with our logo on them.
You get the point.
But today, I made two pretty big exceptions to rules that I, myself, created.
We got two different emails in our info@ address account. We get about 10-20 per day and two us respond to each one personally within hours, but usually within minutes.
The first one was from someone that adopted a dog from us 14 years ago. Her now 15 year old dog was having a hard time lately. Couldn't move. Losing weight. Not doing well. This person couldn't afford, due to many reasons including divorce, job loss, etc to take him to a vet to get euthanized. She also didn't have a car and had no way to bring him to us. So tomorrow, we'll be going to her house to pick up her poor boy and bring him back to our shelter for a humane euthanasia. We could barely hear her "thank you's" through her sobs.
The second one was from someone that adopted a dog from a rescue. The dog wasn't aggressive, she said, but it was nipping at people. The rescue wouldn't take the dog back and another trainer recommended euthanasia. I listened (ie read) her story and told her that we couldn't place a dog with that history up for adoption either. We could set her up with a trainer if she was interested in working with the dog. She responded that she knew what she had to do, but her family and friends were telling her that she should keep the dog and she wanted someone else to tell her it was "Ok" to put the dog to sleep for safety reasons. We don't offer these kind of evaluations as a service, but I told her to come on in and we'd evaluate the dog. She did and we did and although I'm not sure what she is going to do now, I think she left with a lot more information and knowledge than when she came in.
So, we don't do house calls and we don't offer behavior evaluations like this one, but today we did and two clients and their dogs are the better off for it.
Rules are meant to be broken aren't they?
The one that got away...
The East Bay SPCA is a great place to work.
But if you are a pet owner, it's also really, really handy. Employees don't get any special privileges, but they do get discounts on adoptions and on vet care. (We have to meet the same expectations as clients for adoptions and services, and while we also have to wait a little longer to get served, for multi-pet households, it's a nice benefit in addition to getting paid.)
One of the unarticulated benefits is an early eye on the new cats and dogs. Are you looking for a special companion? If you are patient and keep your eye on the back door, as the staff is doing intake, you will probably see the perfect pet, and can get to know him or her before anyone else.
(Frankly, since most of us have pets already, this benefit isn't as used as often one might think!)
I am not looking for a cat. I used to be a cat person, but since I acquired two very doggy dogs a few years back, I figured my cat days were over.
And then there was "Jet." A boringly-colored black kitty. Common. Young. Brash. And brave.
Jet was our "shelter cat." If you read in here regularly, you know we typically have one shelter cat in each facility, who likes or is at least apathetic to dogs, with which we can test how dogs do around cats. They stay until they get adopted, then we get a new shelter cat. (Chloe, the muted calico, who was in the shelter for over a year, just adopted this weekend!)
Jet was the first cat who actually appeared to like my dogs. And more importantly, Jet was first cat who my dogs actually understood was not a stuffed animal to be shredded and de-squeaked.
They aren't mean dogs; just intense. If they see a cat, they chase it. If they are allowed to get near a cat, they paw it and lick it (looking for the squeaker?). If they are allowed to paw and lick it, it's usually a nice match.
Which NEVER happens. A 5 to 8 pound cat, seeing a combined 150 pounds of Labrador charging towards them, rarely sticks around to get licked.
But Jet did. Jet would jump into my office, over the baby gate which protects the office from my beasts, and visit. Just hang out. If the Terrible Twins got too enthusiastic, Jet jumped back out, but just for a few minutes. Once the dogs got settled again, he jumped back in. I couldn't keep him out of my office.
I thought about adopting Jet and taking advantage of my adoption benefit. I thought about it a little more. He was a plain black cat! (Aside from my pleading posts in here to the contrary, I always figured I'd get me a neat-o fancy-schmancy looking cat.)
But Jet was a keeper. I decided on Monday that I needed to give him a permanent place with Pete and Maddie. After all, black cats were so hard to find homes, I'd be doing him a favor, right?
Hah. He was adopted that weekend.
We have missed him ever since. We try to make friends with the new dog-friendly shelter cats, but alas, the Terrible Twins are just too much dog for them.
I got excited to meet Voodoo
today. A Jet look-a-like, Voodoo likes dogs, treats them with appropriate disrespect and doesn't take guff. Perfect.
But P & M...sigh. They are just too
much dog. L.D. introduced Voodoo to them today, and Voodoo lasted -- like a bronco rider in the rodeo -- all of about 9 seconds and then climbed up on the cabinets until we left the building.
I miss Jet. He's making a client of ours in Oakland very happy.
But Pete and Maddie and I miss the one that got away.