Monday, January 31, 2011

Helen is Loved

Christmas Eve morning, ACO April brought in a dog whose skin was literally falling off of her in pieces, whose nails were curled under touching her pads, who was so exhausted by life that she slept for nearly the entire first week she spent in our shelter, always covered in blankets by caring staff-members and volunteers to protect her from the drafts that were blowing through the shelter that cold and wet Christmas week.

There was something special about Helen that touched shelter staff, and instead of putting her to rest, the decision was made to save this girl and bring her back to life. With lots of nutritious food to strengthen her depleted body, medicated baths to soothe her skin, and t-l-c to warm her heart, Helen became stronger and seemed ready to take her first walk with a devoted volunteer. Getting outside into the fresh air (but no sunshine), energized Helen and the pace of her progress seemed to increase markedly.

Muttville, a rescue which places older dogs into permanent foster situations took Helen in and found for her what seems to be from these pictures, the perfect home. For those of us who remember the early days of Helen's stay at BACS, these pictures depict a dog who doesn't resemble in the slightest the dog who came in on that cold and rainy Christmas Eve morning. Thank you BACS staff, thank you Muttville, and thank you so very, very much Foster Mom for giving Helen the home she has waited for much too long.

Yet another update - Queenie for a Year

How many volunteers remember our old pal Queenie? She was featured in past blog posts such as:

Queen for a day

A Day Out With the Girls

It seems like just yesterday when she was at the shelter, but she has been in a home for almost a year now. Queenie is now named Fiona. Queenie Fiona should not be confused with Fiona Fiona, who was adopted by Maya and is featured in a previous entry. Let's make sure these two dogs never take a class together.

Anyway, here are a few pictures of Queenie/Fiona. Looks like post-shelter life is working out OK for her.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Duke Finds His Soulmate

Remember this quiet, stately gentleman of a dog? Duke was adopted by a Berkeley man looking for a companion to spend his days with. Duke and his person get to spend all day and night together, for his person works from home, a cozy apartment off Shattuck Avenue. Today, I received this upate from Duke's "Papa," as he calls himself:

"Today was an extremely successful first attempt with an off-leash experience. We went to the Albany Bulb. Duke was awesome: came when called, ran zoomies around the beach-- it was amazing! I was so nervous that he'd just take off. When he came back to me after I called him, he never left my side. We've bonded. Everyone loves him. Duke is the perfect dog for me."

Music to a volunteer's ears.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Who's That Happy Girl? Fiona!

It's been three months since my mom and I adopted Fiona, the super-friendly, butt-wiggling, cow-printed pit mix. And I'm happy to report that she's doing great! She gets to go on daily walks, and trips to the dog park every couple of weeks. She is so great with other dogs: she has never been aggressive with any of them, no matter the size or gender. Her best friend is my mom's friend's 40 pound Rottweiler puppy (who will eventually be about 130 pounds), who she helped nurture out of a very fearful state.

We are convinced that she is mixed with Bull Terrier (we've been told she looks like Spuds Mackenzie), Greyhound (she is EXTREMELY fast), Pointer, Basenji, Border Collie (she does the low-to-the-ground stealthy walk they do sometimes), and probably more.

She is very well-trained now and knows sit, down, shake, high-five, leave it, play dead, come, up (jumping in the air, not on us), and stay. I have trained her to walk off -leash very well, and we can now take walks through the city (on the less busy streets, of course) without a leash, and she will stay right next to me (well within six feet, which is within the Berkeley law parameters). Our only complaint is that she gets VERY excited in crowded areas where she is not allowed to greet every person and dog and will cry very loudly. She also gets very depressed if we ever have to go out of town. But besides that, she is a total angel! Thanks so much for giving her to us!

Written by Maya G.

Friday, January 21, 2011

January's Volunteer of the Month


At BACS, we like to think that we lead by example. And we can even apply that outside of the shelter, where we start the new year with hope for civil discourse and more cooperation from everyone throughout our society. So what better way for the BACS Dog Blog to kick off 2011 than by demonstrating a willingness to knock down traditional barriers?

No more shall BACS have West Side Story-style rivalries.

No more Daniel-san vs. Cobra Kai blood feuds.

I think we all know where I'm heading. This month the Dog Blog is featuring a Cat Volunteer.

Thanks for all your hard work Julia! I'm allergic to cats so I avoid the cat house, but it's good to know we've got volunteers back there taking care of our feline friends.

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

I'm a PhD student in transportation engineering at UC Berkeley, and I work at a research center where we study traffic safety. I also dabble in bicycle advocacy, baking, gardening, and home repair, but I really love relaxing with my kitties, Mr. Bingley and Oliver (pictured below). I'm only 31, so I still consider myself a 'crazy-cat-lady-in-training.'

Why did you initially decide to volunteer at BACS?

I had been wanting to do something to help homeless kitties for a while; my own boys were rescued by Island Cat Resources & Adoption as semi-feral kittens. When I moved from Oakland to Berkeley last year, I was finally within bicycling distance of a shelter, so I signed up.

What do you do as a cat volunteer?

Like the dog volunteers, we try to keep the cats sane while they're stuck in a kennel for weeks to months. Cats don't do so well on a leash, so we keep them on our laps in the main cat room or take them to the back room for some playtime. The cages are pretty tiny, so the kitties really appreciate being able to get out and stretch their legs. Since I'm there often, I also take photos of the cats when they're being extra charming, and when they've won me over, I write them bios to post online. I work in the shed with the sick cats, and I've helped to tame some feral kittens, too. In December, I started teaching one of the cat classes. I really want to work with the dogs, too, but there's no time! ... and no green dot dogs.

What are your favorite things about volunteering?

Some of the cats are understandably pretty freaked out by the cages, the smells of all the other cats, and the sounds of dogs barking. It's super satisfying when I'm able to help a shy or frightened cat start to feel comfortable in the shelter; seeing progress over days or weeks lets us know the work is worthwhile. It's all about that first purr! The ultimate goal is to find these kitties homes, so I also like introducing potential adopters to the cats and helping to make a good match.

We cat volunteers are a bit misanthropic, but since we can't take the cats outside, it seems like we spend more time interacting with each other. I've had a great time chatting with and getting to know the volunteers and staff.

Who are your favorite cats, past and present?

My first love was Sam (pictured below), a gorgeous classic brown tabby with white, who was very scared at the back of his kennel, but he would still purr and lift his chin for me to scratch it. With a little work, he showed his true lover-boy self. He was the first cat I photographed, which got me started on that. My other past favorites include Ellie (our toothless girl), Ralph (with the infected tail tip), Babu, and Lila. Basically, all a cat has to do is lick my hand. My current favorite is Boots; he's such a cute little dummy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More Paris/Shiva pictures

We don't mean to objectify anyone, but she's just such a looker. Thanks Hilarie!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The BACS Dog Blog Interview: Elmer

The BACS blog got to sit down with Elmer for an exclusive interview recently. Things got a little testy at points, but we think you’ll appreciate the insightful responses from one of the shelter’s top prospects.

BACS Dog Blog: So you’ve been here at BACS for awhile now. Overall, how has the experience been for you?

Elmer: To be perfectly candid, I can’t complain. Would I like to be in a home right now? Of course. Any self-respecting dog would. A nice, warm, people-filled bed to sneak into. My own yard. Unobstructed access to a kitchen. All of that would be ideal. But at the same time, many other dogs have it worse than I do. I keep that in mind, and I know I won’t be here forever. As Benjamin Franklin said, "He that can have patience, can have what he will."

BDB: Any favorite volunteers?

E: You know, people try to get me to play favorites all the time, but it’s not my style. I have my preferred volunteers of course, but giving names only causes hurt feelings. There are enough politics in the world right now. I just try to be an agent of love and acceptance. I have a happy face for anyone who comes into my kennel. But I do admit to a soft spot for volunteers who bring me treats and let me show them how good I am at “sit” and “down”.

BDB: You’re quite proud of your tricks.

E: It's important to have a big picture perspective. Not many shelter dogs get to appear on blogs and Facebook pages, so I know that I’m carrying the torch for others every time I’m out in public. We shelter dogs are just as talented as these so-called geniuses who have already found homes. We’re just a little on the raw side since we don’t get as much practice. But, come on now…”sit”? I learned that in two minutes. Even if you convert that to dog minutes, I’m in the skinny part of the bell curve if you know what I’m saying.

BDB: Any preferred walks?

E: Wow. Tough question. Where to start? I love the play area. Always dry, and I hear we just got a load of new tennis balls that need to be corralled. Aquatic Park is any dog’s dream. Lots of grass, a lake with ducks, a nice breeze. I never get tired of it. And the neighborhood sidewalks are fun too. It's always good to keep up on current events. I like to see whose yard got a fence, check for freshly blooming flowers that need to be peed on, and you never know when you might find some food scraps on the sidewalk. Really, it’s hard to go wrong.

BDB: Let’s change the subject. Can we talk about this picture?

E: What about it?

BDB: It’s a bit suggestive, don’t you think?

E: Not this again. I expected a little more out of you. Look, I’m a licker and I’ve never tried to hide it. If you're waiting for me to apologize, all I can say is that I hope your Kuranda bed is as comfortable as mine. I can’t worry about what people say. And I mean that literally – 99% of it is gibberish to me.

BDB: Yet, you’re understanding my questions?

E: I think you’re at the shelter too much. Look at yourself. You’re interviewing a dog, for crying out loud.

BDB: Point taken. Well I can’t thank you enough for your time today, Elmer. And, good luck finding your home.

E: My pleasure, and thanks. PS, my schedule really isn’t all that busy - stop by anytime. I'm always up for a bellyrub.