I love explaining what GADAB is all about to people who ask what we do when we volunteer at the shelter. Most people don't think about the dogs behind the scenes-the dogs that are at the shelter for legal reasons and aren't up for adoption. Some of these dogs may become available for adoption, depending on the circumstances, and some may not. I try not to focus on that when we go hang out with the dogs...dogs live in the moment, and during our time at the shelter, so do we.
We started to volunteer for GADAB because we have two pit bulls at home, and have special love for any dog that has had a hard past, a bad reputation, or rough circumstances. My boy Po would have had a really hard time if he had ever ended up at the shelter. He was a street dog and had outsmarted all of the people trying to catch him. He had been abused, that was obvious, and it took him a long time to trust people again. Our dog Puddin' spent 3 months at the Berkeley shelter. She had been bred and dumped in the night drop box. We love these dogs more than anything, and because we have a little extra love, we like to share it with the GADAB dogs.
Tito is an amazing boy. He reminds me so much of one of Po's old friends, Monty. He's brindle, athletic, and a bit of a goof. SJ and I had taken him out before, and Saturday we took him out with Corinne. Such a happy boy, he likes to play fetch, tug-o-war, and chase the water from the hose. Corinne is amazing, and we have been learning so, so much about dogs through this program. Saturday, we learned about the psychology of tug-o-war, and when the game is being played well and when a dog is playing with their own rules. "We are not here to be play slaves" was the lesson of the day, and time and time again, Tito had to ask nicely, and play nicely, in order to play games with us. We learned that, during tug, the dog is not allowed to "move up" the rope with his mouth, and if he does, the game is over. He also had to sit before each tug session; if he jumped up, the game wouldn't start. Tito was a star, and we had a great play session. He's one happy dog, and he definitely makes the most of his time in the yard.
Our last visit of the day took us to the puppy room. Looking down, I saw a little chub of a puppy that about hurt my heart. Now, I love puppies, but this puppy....he was like a piece of candy. Beautiful eyes, wagging tail, and puppy breath...pure pit bull terrier sweetness. Corinne showed us the proper way to socialize and handle puppies...including handling techniques, the right way to deal with climbing and jumping, and a little bit of clicker training. Booda was the perfect puppy student, and made sure to kiss and lick our faces before we left. This is one little guy I have to visit during my lunch hour...I can't get enough of that puppy smell.
GADAB is an amazing program, and we're lucky to be part of it. Being a positive part of these dogs' lives is really a feel-good experience, and on top of that...we get to hang out with dogs all morning. It's a win-win situation!