Saturday, November 21, 2009

Jeffrey, a happy ending!

A few months ago, a sweet elderly gentleman known as 'Jeffrey' walked through the shelter doors, incredibly underweight and what appeared to be in very poor health. He had bald spots all over his body and the fur that he did have was so matted that nearly all of it had to be shaved off. Within only a few weeks, however, Jeffrey was adopted! And today his new forever guardian came to the shelter for a visit.

Jeffrey, now Pablo, looked wonderful! This hair has completely grown back - his health has returned - he's put on a number of pounds and most importantly, he's happy. Truly happy. Seeing him walk through the doors with a wagging tail was so satisfying.

Happy endings are my hopes for all of the dogs at the Berkeley Shelter. Perhaps there is a dog here that could be your Jeffrey. Come down and see. :)

***We're interested in hearing about your happy ending!***

If you adopted a dog from BACS, we would like to hear how it's going.
Please send any pictures and comments to to be posted on our blog!

A day at the beach

Very rarely do the shelter dogs get an opportunity to be away from the shelter for an afternoon. But when they get the chance their spirits instantly lift and they flourish into the dog that they would be all of the time if they had their forever-home. I simply love watching this transformation and I had a front row seat this afternoon when Avea and Higgins went to the beach.

If you remember Jody's pack walk from a few weeks ago, you'll also remember that dog trainer, Kathy K. , agreed to let me come along. Today was also the case and I am so glad that I did!

Today was not the first pack walk that Avea has attended - in fact, Kathy took her for a walk a few weeks ago and it went SO well that she wanted to take her again. This is what Kathy said about her last walk:

I took Avea out for a pack walk and what a delight! she was on a long lead and I soon let her drag it and she played with every dog she met- small, large, very small, etc. she loved every dog she met and every person she met- she was so full of affection and happiness- that everyone we came across commented on her enthusiasm. and she stayed with the pack the whole time- a perfect off leash girl.

I'm happy to report that today's walk was also a success. Both Avea and Higgins were very well-behaved. They had a blast!! They ran off leash, played fetch with sticks, wrestled, swam, played with other dogs - it was AWESOME to watch these two great dogs have so much fun.

Both Avea and Higgins simply adore humans and canines, alike! And, I'm glad to say that they adored each other as well. Where Avea went, Higgins happily followed. When Higgins fetched a stick, he pranced around Avea trying to impress her. What a cute couple!

Today I was surprised, but happy to learn, that Higgins LOVES playing in the water!! On our field trip last month, Higgins was hesitant to play in the water (I think the waves were just too much for him!), but today he charged for the water without a single hesitation: happy to retrieve a stick and bring it back to me.

In the video below, you get a glimpse of Higgins and his new-found love for the water and you see Avea frolicking along the shore line towards her new doggy friends.

I can't say it enough: these dogs are fantastic.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

BACS Rainy Day Fund: a reality!

Thank you, everyone! Look at all the toys!

In total:

12 lrg. KONGS
4 lrg. KONG biscuit balls
2 Nylabone Double Action Chew bones
2 Squeaky bowling pins
3 lrg. rubber bones
15 rope toys
2 Galileo bones


Monday, November 16, 2009

Next Volunteer Orientations:

Sign up for next month's volunteer orientations!

December 2nd
5:30pm - 7:00pm


December 5th,
10:30am- 12:00pm

Stop by Berkeley Animal Care Services to pick up an application today!

The Story of Wuchi

There are a few ways that a dog finds itself in the Berkeley Shelter:

One, they're a stray that is found by one of our Animal Control Officers (or left in the 'night box').

Two, they're owner surrendered - whether it's over the counter (the owners come into the shelter and surrender their dog), in the field (an animal control officer visits the owner's residence and the dog is surrendered there), a dog is left in one of the shelter's 'night boxes' (perhaps the owner was too ashamed to come in during the day, maybe they work during the shelter's business hours and could only surrender the dog after hours, etc).

Three, the dog is confiscated for abuse or neglect.

And four, one that is often overlooked: police confiscation.

Wuchi arrived in our care through police confiscation in mid August and she is being held at the shelter until the court proceedings against her previous owner are over. I do not know if I'm at liberty to discuss the case, so details will be left out for now. But for three months, Wuchi has been stuck inside her kennel - not even allowed to leave the building.

I know that I worry if a dog hasn't been out in one day - can you even imagine 3 months?

Wuchi is one of the smartest dogs I've ever worked with (perhaps even smarter than my favorite, Jody). She knows not only ALL of her basic commands, but even fun ones, too! Like 'shake' and 'roll over'. She's happy. And playful! And is super, super affectionate. She loves to cuddle and LOVES taking baths.

Her favorite toys? Anything she can chew to smithereens. She loves raw bones. If you want - bring some in for our dogs and save one for Wuchi. You can pick some up at your local super market or butcher - ask if it's possible to cut up femur bone - and most likely, they'll be happy to sell it to you. I bought nearly 7lbs worth of bone the other day for only $10.

I hope that someday soon I'll be posting about the day she leaves the shelter with a new forever family that will love her unconditionally. But until then, we'll play together and I'll bring her yummy treats.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Goal reached!

Thanks everyone who made a contribution to the BACS: Rainy Day Fund in honor of our shelter pups.

I'll be sure to post pictures of what we purchase - and how much the dogs enjoy them!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's not enough

I've become discouraged lately, I won't lie. Usually I am optimistic, very hopeful, a positive thinker who looks for the best in things. But within the last few weeks I am beginning to realize that there is only so much I can do.

So many dogs and so many different needs.

One dog that I am thinking of for example is Queenie - a wonderful dog who I love to take for walks, cuddle with, and play fetch with. She's incredibly gentle and very sweet - and simply loves to be close with you. However, with each passing day Queenie is slowly losing herself to the shelter. With each passing day, she loses part of the dog that I've come to love spending time with.

Some dogs surprisingly thrive during their stay at the shelter - because it's better than whatever situation they had originally come from. Perhaps they were chained to a tree in the back yard and now for the first time in years they can go for a real walk. Or maybe they were starving, barely surviving and now there is food to fill their bellies. Maybe they were abused, truly neglected and now they are shown love and kindness. And then there are others, like Queenie, like Doc, Little, Blue - SO many dogs - who slowly deteriorate.

It's unbelievably sad to watch these dogs, these breaking dogs. I can only help them so much, you know. I can help them for the hour or so that I take them for walks....treat them with love, shower them with affection, give them baths, and lie in the grass with them. But when that hour is up they go right back to their kennel where I can't help them anymore.

I love volunteering at the shelter, but there are times when it's almost too much to bear. Like I said at the beginning of this post though, I am an optimist at here's the bright side:

I'm not doing it alone. There are so many wonderful volunteers at the shelter who take the time to help these dogs, too. Today there were dozens of people coming in to walk the dogs - some of the dogs even got out for 2 or 3 walks! And I can't say thank you enough.

There are other ways that you, our readers, can help these dogs, too -- you could be a foster for some of the dogs that are particularly struggling in the shelter environment. Even if only for a weekend. You could donate to our BACS: Rainy Day Fund! to help buy toys to keep our dogs busy in the kennel. You could spread the word - tell people about this blog, about the shelter. Or even better - you could come in and meet your new best friend and take one home for good.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jody and the pack walk

This past Saturday, Kathy K. (a great professional dog trainer) and I took Jody to the Albany Bulb for a "pack walk" to see how her behavior with other dogs has progressed/changed since her arrival at the shelter in late March. This is what Kathy had to say about the trip:

Samantha and I took Jody out today for a long walk at the Albany
bulb. I started her on the short leash and she was on a 20 foot lead
about 1/2 hour in. She greeted about 15 dogs on our walk. She
greeted them with good dog social skills- not too pushy or defensive.
She smelled them on a loose leash and went on her way. She met all
size dogs and energies.

We went to the Albany beach where dogs are very excited to be playing
and fetching.
She encountered one dog who got possessive with his stick/toy and
snarled at her several times, pretty fiercely. She responded in kind,
a little less fiercely. This is important to note- that she reacted
back to a dog's aggressiveness. She very quickly responded to my
correction by sitting and looking at me. I was encouraged by this
total surrender behavior and her quick lack of interest in the other
dog. Does this mean she is "dog aggressive"? I would say No, What
is says to me- is she needs work and training around other dogs.
She definitely has good greeting social skills with a variety of
different kinds of dog- small included. I find that shelter dogs can
become more defensive around a reactive dog due to kennel stress.

I think anyone interested in Jody be made aware that she can be very
appropriate around many dogs, AND she needs further socialization and
training so that she learns how to appropriately react to an
aggressive dog.

Basically, I was quite pleased with her numerous close interactions
with all kinds of dogs