Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November's Volunteer of the Month


Alyssa is already a favorite volunteer, but she's about to become even more popular now that we know she works at Trader Joe's. Maybe she could get TJ's to send us a crate of those chocolate-covered espresso beans for every dog we adopt out? They're so delicious. Or maybe Alyssa could set up a remote demo stand outside the shelter on weekends? The possibilities are endless.

Thanks to Alyssa and Angelica for their hard work at the shelter, it's great when volunteering is a family affair!

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

I'm a mother of two Berkeley High School girls, Angelica a Senior and Czarina a Freshman. I have two other 'children', our cats Jacob and Isabella who we adopted from the Berkeley Humane Society.

When I'm not busy being a mom, I'm working at Trader Joe's on University Avenue. You'll find me almost always in Demo, serving samples to our customers. If you are ever visiting our store, be sure to come by and say hi!

Why did you initially decide to volunteer at BACS?

My daughter Angelica plans to be in veterinary medicine and I wanted her to be able to volunteer with animals in need so that she is always in touch with her dream. It's hard to make it through high school and deal with the pressures of being a teen. I knew that if she was able to interact with the animals, it would give her inspiration to keep going so she doesn't lose sight of her goal. I myself needed to volunteer because my life isn't balanced without animal interaction. My whole life I've grown up around animals and I have a lifetime of memories that involve incredible experiences I've had with them. I choose BACS specifically to do our volunteering because we had adopted our cat there and I really liked what BACS was about and how it was run.

What are your favorite things about volunteering?

The thing I love most is when you go up to a dogs cage to unlock it and they hop around, spin in circles, leap off the sides of the cage in joy. I love that! It reminds me that being there really does make a difference. Even though the dogs I get attached to eventually leave, there's always new ones coming in that I get to meet. Other things I have to mention are when you are out with a dog and you take a break in the grass and they roll around or hop in your lap. It's a comfort when they lean on you, without the use of words in that simple gesture they communicate their trust and appreciation for you.

I have to give credit to the amazing staff at BACS! They are definitely one of my most favorite things about BACS. I love sharing laughs and helping then when I can. It's part of what makes it so rewarding to be there, just getting to see them smile.

Who are your favorite dogs, past and present?

My favorite dog who has left the shelter is Miley (shown below with Alyssa's daughter Angelica)! I miss Miley so much. I loved how she'd hear my voice when I first got there and she'd yip a certain way until I got to her cage. She was the best!

Another favorite was Faye who bunked right next to Miley. Faye was awesome! I loved taking her out and playing in the grass with her. I miss Rico too, the escape artist. Jasmine was another dog I really bonded with. I remember the first time I walked her, she was so skittish at first, afraid. After a few weeks, she blossomed into a really great dog. I loved being able to be part of her transformation. Currently, Tulip is my favorite. Her size might be intimidating to some, but once you get her outside she's a big puppy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Azul doesn't really miss us very much

You'd think that after almost a year at BACS, a dog would develop a certain affinity for the excitement of the shelter. But that doesn't seem to be the case for the ingrate pictured below. Azul has been in a home for several months now, and he's obviously not in any hurry to make a journey back to his kennel. Here is an update from Peg and Claudia, his adopters. (PS, if you ever stop at the Peet's on Piedmont Avenue, you may catch a glimpse of Azul. He is rumored to hang out there. I just hope he sticks to decaf.)

Well, we brought home a wild and spirited dog in August, and have had the joy of watching Azul blossom into a calmer, happier, energetic boy in the last three months. He is goofy, sweet, easily over-excited, and increasingly calm and happy. If he is bored while on leash (should we stop to talk with neighbors for too long, for instance), he can still start his leash wrestling act, but breaks out of it quickly, and this behavior decreases steadily. Remarkably, he LOVES "heel" and has become a great loose-leash walking companion. His sit, stay, and heel "play times" happen daily, as do his hour-plus walks. And he has gained a couple pounds of muscle since leaving the shelter, garnering many a compliment for his fitness and beautiful coat. We have discovered two other loves of his life: apples (lucky for us, because dog treats are only mildly interesting to him) and lazing in front of the (gas) fireplace on chilly days. The fireplace can put him into a trance for hours!

Claudia and I feel extremely lucky that the great volunteers at the Shelter recommended Zuuli to us, and kept him sane during the long months in his kennel. Azul is a prime example of a dog that many people took a long look at but rejected, mostly because of his exuberance during his few "unlocked" times. He undoubtedly suffered a lot of neglect and loneliness in his early life, but like many pit bulls, his adaptability and gameness has given him the heart to leap into his new life with enthusiasm! Whether he is belly-crawling in the morning to elicit butt scratches, romping with our daughter's pit, sitting politely while kids scratch his ears, or gazing in shop windows at the stuffed play toys, he is always funny and looking for something new to do!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Max takes the express route to a home

The longer a dog is at the shelter, the more popular the dog becomes with the volunteers. And let's face it, some of our dogs have managed to become VERY popular. However, let's not forget the dogs whose stay at the shelter is a short one.

Max was a puppy left in one of our night boxes. He was at the shelter only briefly before finding a home with volunteer Nancy Evans and her family. I don't think he even made it to our Facebook page or the adoption websites, but this guy would have had a lot of fans at the shelter! It's great to see him go right to a good home though, especially since he was so young when he arrived.

Here is a report and a few pictures from Nancy. Looks like nothing in the house is safe!

The scared little puppy left in a BACS night box is now a fully accredited member of the Evans household. Max (a baby of 8 weeks) had foxtails deeply embedded in both ears and one eye, causing infections, but thanks to BACS, University Vet, and good home care, he recovered fully. Max loves using the kitty door, which made housetraining super easy. He also sleeps thru the night, a blessing for any new parent, and uses his crate for naps. Max’s preferred activities are sleeping, shredding, and playing. (Despite kidnapping quite a few shoes, he actually only chews the ends of the shoelaces.) Max and the boys, ages 6 and 8, are learning to treat each other with love and respect, and having a great time.