May 5, 2009

Life Behind Bars

It isn't always glamorous at the animal shelter, but there is some serious work that gets done while the animals are "behind bars". When animals are not being taken out for exercise and love, they spend the majority of their time inside of their kennel looking at life behind metal bars. Through no fault of their own, these dogs have ended up at Animal Care and Control, and it is through the effort of dedicated volunteers, like Corinne and her staff, that they end up with any human interaction at all. 

But don't despair yet! Where others might see a dead-end, Corinne and her volunteers see another opportunity to enrich the lives of the dogs. They strive to give their dogs the emotional support and mental stimulation they need in order to keep sane, even with a metal fence between them. In fact, Corinne once told me that every single time she enters a run she tries to acknowledge each dog she passes by. 

The photos above are taken by a wonderful volunteer, Sylvia, who uses her gift of photography to capture some of the wonderful day to day moments at Give A Dog A Bone. While in the cage, Corinne (seen above) is practicing "Ups" with one of her dogs. Treats abound in these training sessions, which Corinne stresses to me, keeps the dogs mentally stimulated and engaged, even when they can't be taken out. It seems that everything in life works from the inside out. Even when inside of their cages, Corinne and her volunteers begin putting behaviors on cue that will help groom these animals into well-behaved, loving dogs. Each time they pass by they have a kind word, a delicious treat, or squeaky toy to make each dog feel special.

At Give A Dog A Bone, no dog is too hopeless to be worked with or too sick to be loved. Every volunteer knows that each animal comes to the shelter with a unique set of circumstances and behaviors. Even dogs that are confined to their kennels because of aggression are not excluded from Corinne's remarkably positive training sessions. It may seem a small victory, but an animal deemed "vicious" or "aggressive" taking a treat from your hand, and doing "ups" for the volunteers, is just one of the many reasons that volunteering at Give A Dog A Bone is a worthwhile and enriching experience. 

More broadly, can you imagine what that would do for the world, if instead of turning a blind eye to others who need our help, we took the time to acknowledge each individual's beautiful and unique existence? We may not always have the answer to a problem, but taking the time to acknowledge what is around us is one of the most thoughtful things we can do.

So this is a big Thank You to all of the volunteers at Give A Dog A Bone, and to San Francisco's Animal Care and Control who make it their passion to acknowledge every dog, and give love, toys, treats, and affection to the dogs "behind bars". 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At first I was so sad when I saw this blog, then I read on. Give a Dog A Bone is such a wonderful place; and the dogs are the benefactors of great love. I will never purchase a pet again. Any time I can (through friends and family) I will promote getting these special guys out from behind bars! Thank you for all you do now, and will do in the future!