Thursday, May 27, 2010

Forever Homes for Buster, Horton, and Mali

More lovely dogs have found their forever homes! This time the lucky pups are Horton, Buster, and Mali. Buster, the last of the six puppies who came into the shelter in early March is going to a loving home where he will have five doggie siblings, so this super dog-social guy is sure to be in his element. Mali has been adopted by the woman who rescued him as a stray and brought him to the Berkeley Animal Shelter. She fell for this sweet little guy immediately, and the minute he was available for adoption, she adopted him! Horton will be living in a condo on the Alameda waterfront with a man and his dad. The dad works from home, so Horton will have constant company-- and while the dad is at his desk, Horton can sun himself on the deck as he watches the seagulls fly by. Lucky boy!
Congratulations and happy trails to these fantastic doggies! We wish them much love and happiness in their wonderful forever-homes!!!

Text and graphics by Alicia D.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pachanga Hams It Up in the Play Area

Pachanga was up to her adorable antics today in the play area and I managed to capture some of the cuteness to share with everybody...

Here she is being a true hound dog and canvassing the area for interesting smells. She likes to survey an area with her nose plastered to the ground like she's a hound detective gathering clues to solve the mystery of the Great Doggie Caper.

"Throw the tennis ball, Lady!!"

Pardon me, but you seem to have some tan bark on your tongue...

Getting a little tired...

Look at that face!
Pictures and text by Alicia D.

Raulon Adopted!

After nearly five months to the day, Raulon was adopted by a very nice guy from Napa. Raulon will be living on an acre of land in the country, and will accompany his new person, a contractor to job sites. All agreed that Raulon had found the right person. Although we will miss our loving, lovable over-sized lapdog, knowing that he is in good hands in a forever-home is great consolation!
Graphics by Alicia D.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Horton Likes His Pine Cones

After taking a few weeks off, it was such a pleasure to come back and walk a new shelter dog. Many of the dogs that I knew had been adopted in the five weeks I had been absent and it was both strange and exciting to see so many new faces. After making my usual rounds through the kennels, I came upon Horton: a handsome boy with a large head and a cute pink nose. Horton hadn't been out for a walk yet that day, so I gladly turned over his walk card and leashed him up.
Horton is a happy dog. The kind of dog that puts the tiniest of smiles on your face for the rest of the day. The kind of dog that you know enjoys your company by the way he subtly nudges your thigh with his snout on a walk; or the way he'll lick your fiinger tips as you cuddle in the grass. Utterly content with everything in the world, Horton is care-free and just glad to simply BE.
Sitting beside one another on the pier in Aquatic Park was almost soothing. His calm energy and demeanor made me feel relaxed, happy and sure that all was right with the world-- even if only for the short time that we were together.
Horton was often picking up pine cones on our walk together-- every several feet he would find a new one, leading him to drop his current one because he had found something better. Horton finally settled on one though-- the biggest of them all. A pine cone roughly the size of a football that he gladly chewed apart while he lay in the grass.
Oh Horton, you're just so sweet!
Text and photos by Sam.

Celebrate our 2 year anniversary!

Two years ago, the very first blog entry was posted on the volunteer blog. Let's thank it's creator! Rachel, thanks for coming up with a great way for volunteers to voice their experiences with all of the wonderful shelter dogs that we have the pleasure of walking every day.

Go out and celebrate by walking a dog, folks!

Avea has been adopted!

She's everybody's favorite.
She's been around forever.
She makes everyone laugh.
She shows no sign of slowing down.

Who could I be talking about?

Of course not. It's Avea!

I had been planning to write an article marking May 29 as a bittersweet day – Avea's one year anniversary at the shelter. How she’s got such a great personality, she’s still upbeat, she’s everybody’s favorite dog, blah blah blah - the same stuff we've been saying for a long time now.

Instead, there is much happier news to report. Avea has been adopted! She and her swishy hippy walk are relocating to Sacramento with a nice young couple who drove all the way to our shelter specifically to meet her. Congratulations Avea, nobody deserves to be in a good home more than you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Goldie (aka Lucy) at Home

Here is Goldie, now known as Lucy enjoying her rather spacious new backyard. Sweet, gentle beautiful girl.

Here is Lucy with her new sisters, Ginny (in the middle) and Sadie (on the right).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Forever Home for Petry

I remember when Petry first came to BACS about a month ago. The first day I saw her was a Friday. She was terrified, depressed, and withdrawn. She just lay curled up in a little ball in her bed, her head hidden under her paws, literally shaking with fright. She looked absolutely miserable. I was playing with a dog in a kennel across from her, and the more I watched her the more I worried about her. A visitor who was looking at the dogs stopped in front of her kennel and tried to talk to her and get her attention, but his presence only made her shiver more violently and curl up into a tighter ball. I remember going home that evening and wondering if she would be able to come out of her shell, if she would be alright. I thought about her a lot that weekend, but was too busy to come into the shelter.

When I came in the next Monday, I looked for the little, miserable white puppy curled up in a ball. That puppy had vanished, and in her place was a cheerful, happy little dog peering out of her kennel and looking ready to greet the world and see what it had to offer her. I was absolutely shocked at her transformation. I have no idea what Petry's life was like before she came to BACS, but she is one resilient little dog. And now an adoption is pending for her. She will soon be home with her forever family (a loving couple, two cats, and a Pit/Labrador mix brother), enjoying the love and nurturing that she so deserves. Enjoy your joyful new life, Petry! You deserve all the happiness in the world.
Text and graphics by Alicia D.

Home Sweet Home for Cinnamon

Great news: Sweet little Cinnamon has been adopted! This wonderful puppy has found her forever home. We are so happy for her and her new family (which includes two other doggies!). We wish them much love and happiness together!

Text and graphics by Alicia D.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Miley, the Happy Dog

Ms. Miley is just about the happiest girl in the Berkeley shelter (just look at that smile!). Her pure joy when out with her walker, or for that matter upon seeing the walk card being flipped over in anticipation of a walk is unsurpassed. It is hard to stay in a less-than-good mood for long when spending time with Miley, for she finds delight in everything: new people, new dogs, new sights and smells. She does quite well when spending time with other dogs, and will happily walk side-by-side with them. Miley even enjoys a dip in the pond on a hot day! (Shhh!)

This mostly Boxer-pit mix is a little treasure in our shelter, bringing smiles to those who spend time with her, and demonstrating that most enviable canine characteristic of living in the moment. Dogs can teach us so much, if we let them. Thanks sweet girl, for that lesson, which you so kindly reinforce each time I spend time with you. : )

Photography by Rob McNicholas

Charming Pachanga

I was immediately intrigued by Pachanga for a completely random reason - she looks a bit like the wonderful dog my grandmother had when I was little (a rescue dog turned service dog named Bobo). When Pachanga saw me lingering in front of her kennel and peering in at her, she immediately perked up and fixed me with a soulful stare, making soft little whining sounds that seemed to say "Please, please take me out for walk!" She was extremely friendly from the moment I walked into her kennel, and seemed delighted to have some company. She is a very gentle, amiable dog, and as such it was easy to get her collar on and get her all ready to go for her walk. Once outside, her tail literally never stopped wagging for the whole 45 minutes we were out and about.

She is a dog who makes people smile. Every time we would pass another pedestrian, her tail would wag even faster and she would wander towards them wanting to say hi and wanting to lick their hand. She coaxed a smile from almost everyone we walked by with her cheerful, outgoing personality. True to her hunting dog lineage (she is part Beagle, part German Shorthaired Pointer), she is alert to her surroundings and focused on taking in the various smells she finds along the trail. She seems pleased to see other dogs nearby, and seems at least somewhat prey-driven (she was mighty interested in those ducks we saw, for example). Her leash manners have room for improvement - she pulls on the leash and will try to dash off after something that intrigues her. She seems very intelligent, though, and I think her leash etiquette will really improve with some steady guidance. She sits very nicely on command and will stay seated until you indicate that she can get up. Although she doesn't know the command "shake" yet, she seems to already instinctively know it as she will sometimes extend one paw to you in an adorable greeting. She seems like a pretty athletic little dog and might be a good companion for someone who likes to go jogging (although she's delighted with a mellow walk, too, like the one we had today). Although she is energetic and eager to explore the world around her, she isn't hyper. She is a very merry, friendly, happy little dog who would make someone a great companion.

Text and photography by Alicia D.

Completely Gratuitous

For your viewing pleasure: Tulip being an adorable goof modeling her dandy new kerchief!
Photography and text (and kerchief) by Alicia D.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ted and Dana at Home

Ted and Dana have been at their new home for 72 hours now, and where do I begin? My family, and the dogs and I are just having the best time. Everything is working out wonderfully...better than expected! So let's have some details...the car ride home was long for them, but they slept most of the way and the best part is when they made it home they played together for three hours straight in the backyard ! Seven months of pent up energy is getting released from these two and they feel great. We all agree that it was an excellent decision to adopt both of them. They love each other so much and can often be seen kissing one another or sleeping together. They can play in the backyard to get out a lot of their energy, and they both are just really social dogs so it's nice for them to always have a companion. They play together so much and we do so many active things with them that they both eat three times a day (and i think Teddy has even lost a little weight) but I am sure they will put on some pounds soon.

I have taken them hiking two times, on countless walks, and to a dog park, but my favorite activity was dog beach. We have a wonderful dog beach by us with countless dogs running around, and everyone is so layed back and just having fun. Dana felt comfortable immediately and got along so well with all of the dogs and had no problem wandering off to explore the area. Teddy was surprisingly cautious at first, but it didn't take long for him to realize what a great place he was at. Pretty soon he was tearing down the beach left and right, splashing into the water chasing balls and dogs, and meeting every dog and person at the beach. They just had the best time, and after a bath and a meal they slept the rest of the day.

They fit in perfectly into our household. My family is shocked at how loving Dana is ( I think she has gotten even more so since she's been here) and we are all in love with Ted's goofy, easy going, and curious nature. I look forward every morning to waking up to see their faces and to play with them all day. Thanks, everyone, for caring about these dogs inside and outside the shelter. I will continue to update you with pictures and stories to let you know how are pups are doing.

Happy T(r)ails

A whole pack of wonderful doggies have recently been adopted, including Romy, Fuji, Goldie, Tupper, Olive (now called Lola), and of course Teddy and Dana! Congratulations to these lucky dogs and their loving forever families! Plus...BACS got an update from Clementine's forever family, who adopted her about a month ago. Clementine is fitting in wonderfully with her family and they are very happy to have her. Much love and happiness to all these doggies and their families. And to these families, thank you for making the choice to adopt a rescue dog!

Text and photo collage by Alicia D.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

May's Volunteer of the Month


DeAnna has been spotted walking quite a few different shelter dogs, but can most often be found wearing her hipster BACS apron, sitting on the grass at Aquatic Park cuddled up with Mercedes. These two are such a fine-looking couple that they have been our featured models in the BACS ad in Bay Woof magazine. Of course, DeAnna does have a life outside the glamorous world of dog walking. Here is a little more about her.

What do you do when you're not at the shelter?

During the week I’m a mild-mannered grantwriter; on weekends I train pit bulls :) I’m a recent transplant to Berkeley – I moved up here about a year ago to work at a government transparency nonprofit, doing grantwriting and other development work. I also have a community garden plot, and am obsessively planting tomatoes at the moment. The shelter has gradually started crowding out entire other areas of my life, so I also have a whole lot of hobbies that it might be more accurate to say I’d like to be doing… My family is into rafting, so most of my vacations are spent on a river somewhere.

Why did you initially decide to volunteer at BACS?

About two years ago, my boyfriend and I decided to adopt a kitten through a local rescue organization. That turned into two kittens, to keep each other company. And then the foster family couldn’t bear to split the litter of three orphaned kittens, so we ended up with all three of them. We have wonderful, tolerant landlords, but even so, we’re pretty much at the pet limit for reasonable renters. I was missing dogs terribly, and started looking into volunteer opportunities at local animal shelters. And the rest is history…

What are your favorite things about volunteering?

The dogs, of course, are at the top of the list, but I also love the shelter community. I’m new to Berkeley, and it’s been a fantastic way of getting to know and hang out with awesome people. I’ve been taking Mercedes to BAD RAP classes on Saturdays, which has also been wonderful – I’m working on my own skills, and watching her improve and get her dog aggression under control has been really satisfying.

Who are your favorite dogs, past and present?

Mercedes, hands down. She’s been here as long as I have, and was actually one of the first dogs I walked. She’d just had her spay surgery and was looking mournful in one of those cone collars. Now we’ve been going to BAD RAP classes for about two months, we’ve been on dozens of walks together – I would adopt her in a second if I could.

She’s addicted to bellyrubs – she thinks she’s a 55-lb lapdog. She’s actually incredibly lazy :) If you try to walk very far at all without sitting down for a long cuddle first, she’ll give you these long plaintive looks and finally flop down and refuse to move until that’s done. We’ll go out for long, long walks and just lay in the grass in the sun, and the only time she’ll move is when she’s trying to lick your face. I’m hoping she gets out of here soon, but the shelter is going to feel so different without her.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Teddy and Dana Leaving Town on Friday Morning

. . . Teddy and Dana will be leaving BACS with their new family this Friday early a.m. for Southern California. Devoted volunteer Courtney S. raved about two of her favorite BACS dogs to her family, who had recently lost its elderly dog. After much discussion, all agreed that these adoptions would be a rescue that would benefit everyone, especially Teddy and Dana. Thank you, Courtney for your generosity of spirit, and for all you do for the shelter dogs who are lucky enough to become your faves!

Lovely Lowrider

I will admit it - Mercedes always intimidated me because I thought her ears made her look kind of mean and tough. Sure, I'd seen her interacting with other volunteers and being a total sweetie, and I'd read her bio and read all about what a gentle cuddlebug she is. But those ears! So pointy! But today I walked by her kennel trying to decide which dog to take for a walk. She looked up at me and started dancing and wiggling around in a very cute, happy fashion like she really wanted to go for a walk. It was impossible to stare into her big brown eyes and just ignore her. So I decided to get over my prejudice against her because of her appearance and take her for a walk.

Well, the minute I walked into her kennel she completely lived up to her reputation as a cuddlebug. She was super-friendly and danced around and nuzzled against me for pets. She was so excited for this human contact that she couldn't decide whether she wanted to sit up and get pets on her head, or roll over and get tummy rubs. For the first few minutes, she kept switching back and forth in order to get the most pets and tummy rubs she could possibly get.

On our walk, I was very impressed with her polite leash manners. She generally just trots along beside you, and sits very obediently on command. She does have a stubborn streak, and when she gets interested in something better left alone (like the yucky tin can with sharp edges that apparently smelled simply devine), you have to be calm, firm, and assertive. After our walk we spent about a half hour just lazing around outside the shelter, sitting on a bench and enjoying eachother's company. Sure enough, just like her bio and walk notes all say, she is a very gentle, sweet dog who loves affection and pets and simply wants to be near you. When I sat on the bench outside the shelter, she settled between my feet, leaned against my legs, and rested her head on my knee. When I would bend down to plant a kiss on the top of her head, she would gaze up lovingly with those soulful brown eyes. So after our walk and cuddlefest today, I am yet another member of the Mercedes Fan Club. Her cut-off ears do make her look tough, but that's not her fault. I'm positive that if she'd been consulted in the matter, she would have elected to keep intact. We shouldn't hold it against her that someone didn't care how painful it would be for her and cut them off. I'm glad I got past her tough looks and decided to spend some time with her. She is a very affectionate, sweet, gentle dog.

Text and photographs by Alicia D.

Cinnamon and Buster

Life just got a little sweeter for Cinnamon - she has finished receiving all her necessary puppy vaccines and can now venture out of her kennel for walks and socializing. She is still very shy but seems to be really enjoying all her new adventures. She has gone for several walks with loving BACS volunteers, and she has enjoyed a few stints as a BACS office dog (a very fun and coveted treat for the doggies here!). Although timid around people, she seems to be outgoing, social, and playful with other dogs. On one of her days as a BACS office dog, she met Buster, another BACS resident who was enjoying office dog privileges that day too. Rob McNicholas captured an adorable interaction between these two pups. Buster is a little bashful in this video, but Cinnamon is ready to play!

Text by Alicia D.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Azul tries to make the grade at BAD RAP

Some time has gone by since my initial press conference following Azul’s debut at BAD RAP class, and devoted readers have been clamoring for a progress update. The good news is that we’ve been able to attend on a fairly regular basis (“we” meaning “me” - Azul’s schedule is quite flexible). We’re not honor roll yet but we’re not wearing the dunce cap either. Here is our self-assessment:

Original grade: D-
Current grade: C

Azul likes to check out his surroundings, and with all the people and dogs at BAD RAP class it can be very difficult to gain his attention. Early on it was nearly impossible for me. Now I’m able to get a “Look” from a sitting position before starting any drill. It’s hard to get a look while we’re in motion, and he won’t yet maintain eye contact the way some other dogs will (like Boots), but we have made strides.


CORRECT! Back still hurting though. Next step is to get him to bring his focus up to me, instead of me having to bend down to him.

Original grade: D+
Current grade: B-

We’re getting better at drills. I’ve learned that some days Azul is motivated by a squeaky toy, and other days he’s motivated by treats. I bring both. I’ve gotten better at luring him from the right distance, and praising but not over-praising.

BAD RAP CEO Tim Racer was giving us a hard eye, but we managed to do pretty well at the tough right-hand turn drill. Azul is supposed to follow my lead to his right without me having to pull him. It's not as easy as the left hand turn, where it's possible to use my body to maneuver the dog. With more practice I'd like to not have to use the treat to lure him, but it's helping him learn the drill. I was able to keep some slack in the leash and divert his attention away from whatever yumminess he was smelling on the ground.

Dog Reactiveness
Original grade: B
Current grade: B+

Azul has never shown any aggression towards other dogs. As a matter of fact, he’s one of the BACS dogs who has been permitted to go on an occasional double date at the play area. He has not made any movements towards other dogs while at class even in drills that put dogs in closer proximity, but he will get higher marks here when I can get him to look more at me and less at the other dogs. Even though Azul does not show aggressiveness, other dogs may interpret his stares as a challenge.

No dogs show any aggression during the crossing drill.

Leash Biting
Original grade: F-
Current grade: B

Anyone who’s walked Azul knows that his favorite display of rebellion is to jump up to bite his leash and play tug of war. This was a particular problem in the first few BAD RAP classes once Azul realized he was expected to do what I wanted. I had to spend a good 15-20 minutes of each class wrestling Azul for the leash. This has greatly improved. We still have an episode or two each class, but lately I’ve only had to spend 2-3 minutes reclaiming the leash. Taking him to class and walking him regularly has established me as a leader, and he’s starting to enjoy completing tasks and receiving praise and treats. As a note though, EVERY other dog gets an A+ in this category.

And for a totally shameless Azul plug...he's SUPPOSED to be looking at me here, but what a handsome guy huh? If I included a Beauty category he would have an easy A. But this is not Miss America.

So we can still improve all of our grades, but we are trending upwards. Both Donyale and Tim have been impressed with our progress. Good to see so many BACS dogs and volunteers at the class, and thanks to Rob McNicholas for taking the pictures and video! Also thanks to other volunteers, it's obvious others have been working with Azul (somebody taught him to shake).

Rob has posted a bunch of pictures and videos from Saturday's class. Featured BACS cast members include Azul, Raulon, Boots, Horton, Mercedes, Bella, and Nino.