May 27, 2007

We're Jumping For Joy

Give a Dog a Bone would like to extend a thankful paw to the good folks at the Severns Family Foundation for their generous grant to GADAB. We appreciate their ongoing support and interest in what we do. Their contribution will help us not only continue to improve the quality of life for the long-term shelter dogs at the San Francisco municipal shelter but also allow GADAB to better share its practices with other animal agencies nationwide.

May 21, 2007

The Best and the Worst of People

This was supposed to be a feel-good entry. I was still on sort of a high from last Friday afternoon's shelter tour. It made me so proud to show off our hard work and to demonstrate what a difference our program is making. To illustrate that point, I was going to write about today's session in the park with Trouble (above). In her months with us, she'd gone from ill-mannered and a bit bratty to a dog that can now control her impulses, even enjoying a quiet moment of affection once in a while. I was planning a clever title for the entry. Something about Trouble actually being her middle name.

But as is my routine, when I got home from the shelter, I sat down at my laptop and jumped online. I checked my usual handful of sites, and against my better judgement, clicked on a headline I knew better than to pursue. I could barely get through the story, I felt so sick. Sick to the point of thinking I was going to vomit. I began having those non-sensical thoughts one has when one hears something terrible, like trying to figure out a way to take every meal I'd ever overeaten and somehow transmit it to that starving dog. It didn't matter that it wasn't possible, that it doesn't even make sense.

Amazingly, the dog did not die -- the story has a happy ending. But I'm not satisfied. I want the man responsible for this to pay. Because we live in a society in which cruel and unusual punishment is not acceptable (even when appropriate), my wish that he be made to starve to half his normal weight will not come to be. So instead I will point readers here and support organizations that make more of an impact than one anonymous blogger.

It's been hours since I first came upon the article; it's taken that long for me to get my head around it. It occurs to me that I haven't eaten since I left for the shelter at ten o'clock this morning. Not even a full day, but I'm suddenly uncomfortably, painfully hungry.

May 14, 2007

His 15 Minutes

Splinter is aptly named. His image sticks with me (and it hurts a little). The highlight of Splinter's day is the 15-minute walk we do around the shelter; he's heart-broken when we return to his kennel. Affectionate and full of energy, he deserves so much more than I or any of the volunteers can give him. He deserves a family. Sometimes I wonder if he'll ever have the chance to roll around in real grass or fall asleep in an actual home. Five months old, and already his pitbull label puts him at a disadvantage. There's a strong possibility he'll never leave the shelter. Only 23 hours and 45 minutes until that kennel door opens again. The wait must feel interminable.

May 5, 2007

We Meet Again

She's unmistakeable. Those eyes. That tongue. Once she left the shelter, I honestly never expected to think about Lilli Bear again, let alone see her. It's not that I didn't like her -- in her months with GADAB I did develop a fondness for her. But we see so many dogs and not every one becomes the sort that embeds himself in your consciousness and never fades away. When her owner redeemed her, I wished the best for Lilli Bear; I hoped her time after her stint in the shelter would be better than her time prior to it, but my focus turned to the dogs still in custody.

When I saw her on the street, it was like running into a friend from a past life. "Lilli Bear!" I cried. But she and her owner hurried along, and I was left standing there, stunned and unnerved. "I know that dog!" I shouted to no one in particular. People began to give themselves an unnecessarily wide berth as they passed me. After a moment, I continued toward home.

Sometimes at the shelter I get sloppy with my handling. I'll let a dog jump on me more than he should or I won't ask for eye contact before bestowing a treat. Corinne reminds me that the greatest gifts we can give these dogs (in addition to comfort and affection) are the tools to help them when they leave our care. We can teach them manners. We can show them tricks. We can equip them with behaviors that perhaps will endear them to the people they ultimately go home to. Just maybe those behaviors will prevent people from mistreating them. Maybe. As for Lilli Bear, I don't know if our work with her has any affect on the way she's treated now. I do know that her coat appeared shiny and her demeanor seemed relaxed. I can only hope she's living the life she deserves.

May 1, 2007

I Hate Posts Like This

The happiness of Little Papa's good news is unfortunately dampened a bit by what I have to share about Bear - the pitbull who came in with LP on the same cruelty case. Bear was euthanized after being officially surrendered to Animal Care and Control and subsequently failing her handling tests. As was the case with Momo and Minna earlier in the year this is a heartbreaker. We worked hard with Bear while she was with us the last 6 months and she came a long way. Unfortunately, she deteriorated behaviorwise from being in the shelter for so long and even the attention we gave wasn't enough to counteract the effects of longterm custody on her. I'll think of bear every time I see a tennis ball (she loved fetch) or a garden hose (chasing water was close second to tennis balls). Farewell, Bear. I hope you've met someone who can throw a ball a few miles for you.