Monday, March 21, 2011

March's Volunteer of the Month


Sabrina can often be found behind the desk at BACS helping out the staff, and as you can see in the pictures she enjoys the company of all of our animals. Thanks for being so dedicated Sabrina, it's great to have young volunteers like you!

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

I go to school! I'm in a program where I have two classes a day at Berkeley High then I have three classes in Independent Studies so I'm at the shelter a lot more often. Other then school, I spend a lot of my time reading and working with my church youth group to do fund raisers. Oh and hang out with my friends of course!

Why did you initially decide to volunteer at BACS?

It was a end of the year school project called an iSearch. I was doing a research project on the animal shelter after I was inspired to volunteer in a cat sanctuary in Sacramento.

What are your favorite things about volunteering?

Well the people are definitely one of the best things. The other volunteers are really nice and willing to answer any question and once I got past the fear that the staff would bite off my head I started to really enjoy being around them too. The animals are another thing that I enjoy. I love animals and always have, ever since I was able to pronounce veterinarian I've wanted to be one, and so volunteering at an animal shelter just seemed like the perfect thing for me!

Who are your favorite dogs, past and present?

In the past my number one favorite was a little Chihuahua mix named Papa. I was so attached to him and almost begged my family to let me take him home but he found another family after spending quite a while at the shelter. My present favorite is French (see below), whom Amelia is currently fostering and Blaze, the Border Collie.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The BACS Dog Blog Interview: Rita

Rita was a real wild child when she showed up at the shelter, and her reputation initially kept some volunteers at bay. But she’s made a lot of progress, and many skeptics have become fans as Rita has showed us the great dog under the rough edges.

We suspected that this spirited young lady would have a lot of opinions to share, and she doesn’t disappoint in this hard-hitting expose.

BACS Dog Blog: Rita, you’re known as one of our more energetic residents. Is that fair to say?

Rita: I prefer “enthusiastic” to “energetic”. I know I look like a handful when people walk past. But I’m just a human-lover who hopes that everyone enters my kennel. I admit that I can get carried away sometimes, but once you get me on a leash and out walking I’m not any more energetic than the next dog.

BDB: It does seem like you’ve been able to tone things down since you first arrived at the shelter.

R: I’m merely a product of our instant gratification society. When I see a person, I immediately want to be with them. Period. And I was certainly very up-front about it when I first came to the shelter. Maybe even obnoxious, if you listen to what some of the other dogs were barking (my hearing is fantastic, FYI). But if you can’t go two hours without checking Facebook, why criticize me for following my impulses?

However, I am learning that it takes patience to get what I want. It’s hard for me, but I feel the improvement. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Have you read my updated bio? I had no part in that. It’s totally unbiased.

BDB: I see you’ve started BAD RAP class. How is that going?

R: It’s been a fantastic experience, and I can’t thank Lisa enough for taking me. To be around all those other dogs and people is great fun. And I love the challenge. Any dog can ‘sit’ when it’s just you and your handler. But to do it when all those eyes are on you and the chips are down – that’s when you know you’re a top dog. There are quite a few dogs who can’t handle the pressure. I crave it.

And I also want to thank BAD RAP for allowing me to attend. I’m proud of my heritage, but I know I’m not the pittiest dog at the shelter. My father may have been some sort of lab. I don’t know. He was the proverbial rolling stone. Mom didn’t really bark about him too much.

BDB: Can you tell us about your previous home life?

R: Obviously it wasn’t a disciplined-laden environment. You’d be amazed at some of the stuff I got away with. Fun at the time? Sure. But in retrospect, not the way a young dog should be brought up. That’s all in the past, though. I’m looking towards the future.

BDB: Wasn’t it scary to be dumped at the shelter?

R: Are you kidding? It was exciting! I was ready for a change, and had been considering about busting out of my yard. Before I was dropped off, I had even been looking for low spots on the fence where I could make a jump for it. So coming to the shelter has been a big opportunity for me.

BDB: Even though you didn’t know anyone?

R: You want to know the difference between humans and dogs? Apart from thumbs and better table manners? Humans fill all ambiguity with pessimism. As soon as anything is unclear, you can count on a human to assume the worst. Dogs aren’t like that. Any new situation is an opportunity for something fun and exciting to happen. Since coming to BACS I’ve met all sorts of new people, learned tricks, barked at a lot of other dogs, and I even got to go skinny-dipping in the Aquatic Park lake. I know I’ll get adopted eventually, but I’m going to make the most of my time at the shelter.

BDB: As a dog, don't you actually skinny dip every time you swim by default, since you don't wear clothes?

R: Will you just let me have my fun? And I still had my collar on, if you want to get picky. I only went belly deep. Have you taken a good hard look at that lake? I’ll never turn my nose up at my water bowl again, I’ll tell you that much.

BDB: Any advice for dogs that have just arrived at the shelter?

R: Don’t run from the bath. Just take your medicine, it will be over more quickly that way. And Kongs are for licking, not eating. That’s a mistake you only make once.

BDB: Well thanks for your time today, Rita. I see a volunteer coming your way, looks like you're getting a walk. And good luck with an adoption, we hope you find a home soon.

R: Thanks! And I know this guy. He usually keeps treats in his pocket. Gotta run, I'll see you around.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chika (aka Leeloo) Finds a Home

Many volunteers will remember Chika, the adorable two-month old pup who came into our shelter on November 12th via the night-box. She was such an adorable bundle of softness and love that we all thought Chika would be adopted in no time at all. However, "no-time-at-all" turned into three long months during which Chika went through various stages of development within the confines of a kennel. Happily, as soon as her series of vaccinations was completed, Chika was able to go for walks and explore what lay beyond the shelter walls.

Here are a few of my favorite memories of Chika: a rainy Christmas afternoon and (the usually extremely active and somewhat mouthy) Chika snuggles sleepily against the chest of a volunteer; visiting a Fourth Street store and watching her bark at the image reflected back to her by the store's mirror; venturing ever-so-tentatively into the bay, unsure of what this penetrable, but dark surface really is; running with abandon on the low-tide shore behind the Seabreeze Cafe as seagulls and sandpipers flew up in flight at her approach; curled up on the fleece-covered passenger seat of a car, paw gently draped over the driver's leg as she snuggled ever-so-comfortably into the folds of the fleece, sun warming her dark coat; chest out, legs ramrod straight in a proud mini-pittie stance. Confident, smart, strong, loved.

Jill began taking her on outings to the Albany Bulb for a good pack romp, enabling her to use the muscles and bones that had so dearly been awaiting the opportunity to run and consequently develop, as a normal pup's should.

One Saturday afternoon in February, a young couple came in looking to adopt a young dog. Something about this smart, confident, yet respectful and eager-to-please dog captured their hearts.

Now Leeloo gets lots of love and hugs . . .

. . . and chew toys (finally) to soothe her incoming adult teeth . . .

. . . and opportunities to play.

Leeloo is in good, capable hands, with a mom and dad who adore her, a cat who tolerates her, and a home that is forever hers.