Thursday, December 15, 2011

December's Volunteer of the Month


Heading back over to the cat room this month. Thanks to Kate for bringing some Christmas cheer to the felines!

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

I'm currently involved in painting, drawing, mosaics,and jewelry making. I travel a lot, and I'm a Broadway buff, so I always enjoy going to New York to see a few shows. I also enjoy movies, and right now I'm really into everything from classic films to the Twilight series. And of course, I have my foster kittens and two cats of my own-Cathy (10) and Zorro (5). They take up a lot of time as well!

Why did you initially decide to volunteer at BACS?

I had spent about two years fostering kittens for the Martinez animal shelter, but then I decided I wanted to be a cat socializer and work with more adult cats. I tried looking at a few different shelters in my area and when I came to BACS, I got such a warm welcome, so I decided to stay and have enjoyed volunteering ever since.

What are your favorite things about volunteering?

I love seeing a really shy cat come out of its shell with the help of a volunteer,and I love knowing that sometimes I can be a part of that process too. I also love helping people find a perfect cat for them to bring into their family.And finally, I love how the volunteers at BACS are drawn together by their love of animals and sense of team spirit.

Who are your favorite cats, past and present?

Chris, Dewdrop, Ms. White, Delilah, Igloo and Icicle, Ms. Grey, Frieda (Oyster),Zack, Baby Cakes, Minerva




Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November's Volunteer of the Month


Who comes to the shelter almost every day, doesn't complain about a thing, works tirelessly with nearly every dog, and never has a spat with anyone? We all know who. It's everyone's favorite Rottie - the lovely Mona. Thanks for being such a great helper Mona!

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

I would say that my primary activity (if you can call it that) is sleeping. After a long day of volunteering, I really need to get my beauty sleep. Nobody looks this good by accident. I also like to eat breakfast and dinner. Throw in some peeing and pooping, and I call that a full day.

Why did you initially decide to volunteer at BACS?

The main goal was to get out of Amelia’s house for a few hours a day. Do you know how many dogs live there? It’s just plain crazy. I like dogs as much as the next dog, but sometimes I need a break.

So I thought I'd give the shelter a try. There are still a lot of dogs of course, but it's fun to see all the new faces. And the people are always so nice to me too. I don't even mind the cats.

What are your favorite things about volunteering?

There are so many great things about the shelter. First of all, I love all the staff. They really know how to treat a dog right. And it’s fun to say hi to all the volunteers. But without a doubt my favorite part about volunteering is all the extra treats I get. It seems like everyone wants to give me a little snack. I know Amelia wants to limit my treat intake, but I’m here to tell everybody to ignore her. If you think I’m getting pudgy just throw me into the play area with Joey for awhile. I'll sit, look cute, whatever you want. As long as the treat winds up in my stomach, I'm game.

Who are your favorite dogs, past and present?

Number one would definitely be Shifty. He would really be mad at me if I didn’t say that. I used to think I knew what I was doing in life, but thank goodness Shifty has come along to show me how to improve. Howard and I were great friends too. He’d go along with any crazy idea I came up with. I’m so glad he went off to a good home.

Among the current shelter dogs, I love Galloway. He's fun to wrestle with in the play area. We just made a video together, not sure if you saw it. Dozer and Joey are also good pals of mine. But I'm OK with pretty much any dog. Just look at the crew I have to deal with!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

BAD RAP class videos

Here are a couple of videos my lovely wife shot at class today. What you can't see in the videos is that we had a bunch of shelter representatives from the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators on hand to observe. SAWA is having a conference in San Francisco this week, and without a doubt the highlight for them will be a visit to BAD RAP class to watch our BACS dogs show their stuff. A few of the visitors are visible in the background, but there were at least 100 people on hand. Just watch our dogs ham it up!

We're working on our "downs" here.

You can see Mari and Leroy showing off their "roll over".

DeAnna brought Pluto for his first class, he's showing a lot of potential.

Jupiter is a little too enthusiastic, but he's learning quickly and I'll have him in shape in no time.

Joey is pulling his usual trick of not going "down" for Linda unless he is 100% sure that he will get a treat for it.

Anne and Fancy, Christina and Ruger, Andy and Dozer, Shelley and Molly, and David and Faline are also on display.

See if you recognize former BACS puppy Kale, now full-grown and named Daddy-O. His adopter Lisa has been bringing him every week.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

BAD RAP Action

Lots of dogs and handlers are doing good work at class, let's take roll call:

DeAnna gives some personal instruction to Ethan.

Faline does a perfect "down" for David.

Molly and Shelley have the hang of it too.

Dozer does a not-as-perfect "down" for Andy. Dozer likes to take a bit of creative license when following commands!

Jill and Bagel take a break.

Caroline has turned Galloway into a rising class star.

See you next week Anne and Fancy!

I had Jupiter this week. What a fun guy he is! He needs some work but this was only his first class. He had a great time.

Godiva, Joey, Leroy, and Blue are also class regulars. Stop by anytime to watch your favorite dogs in action! And you can see some former BACS dogs whose adopters continue to bring them to class. 11:30 - 12:30 on Sundays in the parking lot right next to the shelter.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October's Volunteer of the Month


With Laura's musical abilities, can a BACS theme song be far off? I think not.

Thanks for all you do for the shelter, Laura!

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

My 2 pittie girls, snagged from the streets of Richmond, a 16 y.o. chow/golden boy who was living under a house for 6 mos. when the people moved out, and various fosters keep me busy and constantly amused. I have been boarding since 1989 and was featured in Tufts veterinary magazine ‘Your Dog’ in May 2003 as a pioneer in home boarding. People thought I was crazy 20 years ago when I told them doggie daycare would be the wave of the future!

I have started a neighborhood watch which has decreased crime dramatically on our block and brought neighbors together.

I am a singer/songwriter working on my 3rd CD, blessed to be working with the phenomenal guitarist Garth Webber, who played with Miles Davis, Robben Ford, Cold Blood and other luminaries. There are 19 songs here:

I am a devoted Giants fan and need comedy to survive!

Why did you initially decide to volunteer at BACS?

I was initially very unsure about volunteering but met so many wonderful folks who I admire greatly for their dedication, inspiration and caring that I overcame my trepidation. Thank you Tom, Barbara, Ferne, John, Paula, Karen, Pam and Ilene and Alan. Tim is wonderful and cares deeply…the dogs and volunteers are so lucky to have him! I also enjoy helping people adopt the dog who is right for them and running into BACS alumni at Pt. Isabel and seeing them thrive! I would like to create a more calming environment for the dogs and visitors by utilizing music through the PA, which would be cut when announcements are made. With the present system it can't be done because there is no cut off capability. I know several sound men who would be happy to advise on the right set up for the new shelter.

Laura, with Karen and Barbara. Good thing Reggie was there to monitor this situation.

What are your favorite things about volunteering?

I love helping the frightened and overwhelmed dogs find confidence, learn that walks, focus and manners are good things. I am drawn to the ones who are overlooked because they’re too old, had too many puppies, are too wild or aren’t ‘pretty’ enough. They are the ones I find most beautiful. The play area is my favorite spot because some just need to zoom zoom and walks are not enough. Everyone learns better when they’re tired! I have been cleaning up the area and want to get desperately needed fresh woodchips and toys.

Who are your favorite dogs, past and present?

Reggie, Felix, Claudia, Harley, Claudette, Lavender, Gort! and all the bubbaheads. I must confess I have a weakness for the special seniors.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

September's Volunteer of the Month


Mari comes all the way over from San Francisco to volunteer with us. And she does a great job with those big boy dogs like Cecil and Leroy. Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication, Mari!

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

I'm mainly engaged in the current national pastime; looking for work. And since I'm not working currently, it gives me the time to pursue some of my other interests. In addition to volunteering with BACS, I also spend time volunteering to work with people who are recovering from substance abuse issues. Recently I've been exploring doing some entrepreneurial work in my field (nursing) creating educational seminars for nurses about substance abuse and recovery topics. (When the mountain won't come to Mohammed...) I've had the opportunity to work on art that I normally don't get as much time to do; I paint images of animals (mainly pit bulls) which are allegorical commentaries about the issues with which I see humanity struggle. I do a spot of writing as well. And love on my cat, Eamon, who returns the favor.

Why did you initially decide to volunteer at BACS?

Over the years I've worked in animal sheltering for a long time. When a friend of mine mentioned that he volunteers for BACS and that approximately 80% of the dogs there at any given time were pit bulls, I knew this was the place I wanted to volunteer for, even though I live in the City. I have, in the past, been involved with pit bull rescue and the idea that I could devote my time to this wonderful breed again was exciting. I've been impressed with the quality and strength of BACS's volunteer program; it really shows up in how well the dogs do at the shelter. Not only does the training, socialization, and positive attention allow the dogs to remain adoptable for very long periods of time, but many of them transform from dogs who had undesirable behavioral issues to well-mannered animals ready for new homes. In my experience, this is really exemplary and helps me feel that my small contribution plays a part in a larger goal.

What are your favorite things about volunteering?

Well, the dogs of course! Spending a day with a dog always makes me feel like I'm well loved - dogs are good for that. Also, beyond that, I feel a need to contribute back to the community, and doing this type of service work benefits both me and the dogs reciprocally. Several times a week, I get to stop fussing about the minutia my own life and really focus on the needs of the dog I am with. Since I participate in the training and socialization classes that BAD RAP provides to the shelter pit bulls, when I am walking with the dogs outside of class time, we are working in addition to just getting out and about. By staying in tune with what's going on with the dog that I'm working with, I get the opportunity to have constant teaching moments with them, whether that's teaching Leroy to roll over (he thinks this is great fun!) or watching an under-socialized dog like Godiva figure out that the world's not such a scary place by walking her around the 4th Street shops. To start working with a dog that may not even know how to walk on a leash and end up with a dog that's well on their way to being a Canine Good Citizen is a real reward for me!

Who are your favorite dogs, past and present?

I've been working with Leroy for the last few months and he's a really sweet, stellar guy. A little stubborn sometimes, but I like a dog with moxie! When he's on, he really knows how to shine, and he's got a lot of love to bless on his future owners.


Blue, who's also at the shelter right now, is another rock star in the making, and boy, if anyone was ever looking for a high-octane candidate for agility training, Blue could be your boy! He loooooves to run up and down and all over things and is very proud of his abilities and wants to show them off at any given time.


I quite like Miss Godiva, and when this little chocolate flower fully blooms she'll be the kindest, happiest dog. Dogs like Godiva, who have only experienced lives of horrible abuse and neglect, but still trust and love people despite their histories are one of the many reasons why pit bulls in particular so appeal to me. Ironically, my all time favorite dog was Cecil, who was not a pit bull, but a dogo argentino. Cecil was so shut down and indifferent to people when he first came to the shelter, people thought he was deaf. Something about him, however, spoke to me from the first time I walked him (and he was the first dog I walked at the shelter), and I was hooked.

Mari and Godiva

Cecil was at the shelter for a very long time before he finally made it into his forever home, and was a miracle he turned out to be. His transformation from aloof, depressed, and uninterested to a happy, engaged, and a human-oriented dog was so much fun to watch. Each milestone he past was a celebration. I don't think that it's a stretch to say that up until he was homed, the shelter was the best life that he had ever experienced.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Famous Freckles

I took Nadia to BAD RAP class last Sunday. It was the first time I worked with her at all. What a pro! She was great at class, and really loved it.

I can't get over those freckles. It made me think of other famous figures with freckles, and how much Nadia has in common with them.

Played a character named Red:

Is a red character:

Doesn't mind performing in the nude:


Not locked up, but should be:

Locked up, but shouldn't be:

Why is this dog still at the shelter? Any ideas?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shiva is at it again

Our nerdiest alumnus has to be Shiva.

First, she breezed through her Canine Good Citizen test.

Now, she's been been certified by the American Temperment Test Society as well.

Great job, Shiva and Hilarie! Always nice to keep up on shelter dogs out doing good in the world.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August's Volunteer of the Month


Caroline just can't get enough of our dogs. She's often at the shelter, and loves to take dogs to BAD RAP class. She also volunteers at the BAD RAP barn. We hope she doesn't find a job too quickly! Volunteering with dogs is much more fun.

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

I actually just finished grad school this month, so I've recently earned my master's degree in Library and Information Science. When I'm not searching for job openings, I spend a lot of time volunteering. In addition to BACS, I volunteer at the Lindsay Museum in Walnut Creek, where I assist in both the natural history department (checking out specimens to docents for their programs) and their wildlife rehabilitation hospital (where I get to feed baby birds). I was also fortunate to join BAD RAP's barn crew recently, which means that I get to interact with their rescue dogs during the transition between shelters and foster homes. Like the BACS dogs, they need mental and physical stimulation, as well as lots of cuddles. I'm also unofficially interning at my local library, which basically means that I help out the teen librarian and make her life a little less hectic. And I'm pretty involved in my church, where I sing in the choir. So, I keep pretty busy, but I love it.

Why did you initially decide to volunteer at BACS?

I came to BACS in kind of a round-about way. Initially, I was thinking about volunteering at Oakland Animal Services, and while I was looking into their program I ran across some information about BAD RAP. I had never heard of them before, and I don't think I'd ever even met a pitbull at that point, so there isn't really a rational explanation for why it hooked me and I felt like I needed to get involved. I read about BACS volunteers taking shelter dogs to Pit Ed, and I hurried to the next BACS volunteer training (which I think was literally the next day - I don't think I even signed up for it). I met with Loraine for my mentoring session and was eventually upgraded to an orange dot, and I was observing Pit Ed the next weekend.

What are your favorite things about volunteering?

Definitely the dogs. It's so gratifying to see how much they improve, both in behavior and basic commands, when you've been working with them for some time. And of course you start to build a relationship with them, and they get this look in their eyes when they recognize you and realize that they get to spend some time with you. Right now I'm taking Roseanne to Pit Ed, and she is particularly sweet and eager to please. I think she gets overlooked at the shelter because she's not that young, but she's really one of the better dogs I've worked with. I also really enjoy meeting people through BACS, although that tends to happen less often. I think everyone who is drawn to help animals has a really generous spirit, and that seems to be true of the wonderful people I've met here.

Caroline and Roseanne at class. Note that Roseanne has an adoption pending as this blog entry goes to press!

Who are your favorite dogs, past and present?

I have a soft spot for Emma, who was the first BACS pitbull I took for a walk (during my mentoring session!) and to Pit Ed. I didn't get to know her very well, because she was rescued by BAD RAP right around the time I started volunteering. She actually just was officially adopted by her foster family this month, so great things have happened for her. Baby was another one of my favorites, because it took a while for her to get adopted and I spent several weeks in Pit Ed getting to know her. And obviously I love my current sweetheart Roseanne. I will be thrilled when she gets a home. (Psst...she's housebroken, folks!). These are just a few - there are so many great dogs that come through BACS.

Caroline and Baby

Emma and her new family

Thanks Caroline!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Time to catch up with Big Mike

It's been a few weeks since Mike went to his home, and it looks like he really scored big. A family in Danville adopted him, and he seems to be living the high life.

Here is an update from Leslie, his adopter. Mike is a nice mellow dog, so it should come as no surprise that he's made the transition from shelter to home with no problem at all.

"It has been so fun having Mike. I was actually reluctant to adopt an older dog (i.e. not a puppy), but I would seriously recommend it to anyone. In Mike's case, we don't know his history, but there are so many more positives. He is very calm although still spunky. He is great on the leash and has picked up basic obedience so quickly. He has no problem with his crate and goes to the bathroom in our Mike designated areas.

He is getting lots of attention and doing great on the leash. He has met a lot of the kids' friends and many of the neighbors. He is a very social boy! The kids are particularly fond of him. Often times they swing by the house just to see Mike! He has put on a little weight so you can't see his ribs anymore. The vet did say he could gain about 5 more pounds. His coat looks great, so shiny and soft."

Here are a few pictures Leslie sent me.

Mike gets revved up to head home with his new, uh, siblings, Carolyn and Anthony (this is about as revved up as Mike gets, by the way).

If Carolyn is going to be dishing out the lovin', Mike will take a double serving.

After all the visitors, we're not surprised that he's worn out at the end of the day.

Bon Voyage Mike!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Patches Is a-Comin' Around

Apart from my ongoing work with Joey - the John Blutarski of the shelter - I've really taken a liking to Patches. She came in as a very skittish, nervous dog who was very uncomfortable around other dogs.

She's still got work ahead of her, but she's doing better on all counts. She's gaining confidence. She's still a little too focused on other dogs, but she didn't make a peep during our walk Sunday.

She's a bit of a nervous Nellie in her kennel, but check out how relaxed she can be when she's out...

Who's your daddy?

Nothing like a nice Sunday afternoon for lazing around.

Earth to Patches...come in, Patches...

Please redirect your attention to the tall, handsome volunteer.

That's a little more like it.

Time to resume our previously scheduled grass chewing.

With more walks and socialization, she will make a perfectly good dog. I'll try to walk her every time I stop at the shelter. If you have chance, it would be great for her to get some additional walking.