Thursday, February 28, 2013

February's Volunteer of the Month



It's hard to miss Eleni at the shelter. It seems like she's at the host desk every time I walk in. And she's a major player in the new Friends of BACS non-profit group. Read all about it right here!

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

I direct what’s known as a “funder affinity group.” In less cryptic terms, I facilitate a network of private foundations to help them engage in deeper learning, collaboration and field building around environmental sustainability and the emerging area of “New Economy” issues. If you’ve ever seen the “Story of Stuff” video by my friend, colleague and Berkeley resident Annie Leonard, then you’ll be familiar with the issues I work on. I’m lucky in that I work with fabulous, interesting colleagues and get to travel to some amazing places throughout the year. In my leisure time (when I'm not at the shelter!), I love to take walks with friends' dogs at Point Isabel and the Bulb (since I don't have my own), take pottery classes, cook, hang out with friends and travel.
Why did you initially decide to volunteer at BACS?

I was a long-time volunteer at San Francisco Animal Care & Control (and board member of their “Friends of” organization). When I moved to Berkeley a couple of years ago, I wanted to get involved in the local shelter, so I signed up for the trainings and started walking dogs and visiting cats. Soon after, I learned about efforts led by volunteer DeAnna Dalton and others to form Friends of Berkeley Animal Care Services. I joined the Friends Board last year and we’ve all been working diligently to raise much-needed funds for BACS! (Get ready for another major fundraising party in the fall!).
What are your favorite things about volunteering?

Not surprisingly, I love visiting with the animals! But my focus more recently has been on people: a couple of months ago Amelia Funghi and I worked together to develop a Shelter Host program. We felt that it was really important, particularly in light of the new shelter opening, to have volunteers in the lobby who not only welcome visitors, answer all sorts of questions and help them find their way, but to help take some of the burden off of the (wonderful) folks working the front desk, who are often multitasking to the extreme, taking calls from the field, processing licenses and adoptions, etc. So far we have six active hosts and will be training more volunteers in the coming months. Being a Shelter Host is very fulfilling, because I feel it helps provide a positive impression of the shelter to visitors and will hopefully go a long way in engendering good will with the Berkeley community. And because I’ve been involved in animal welfare volunteering for a long time (over 20 years), I love it when I’m able to help visitors find the pet that’s right for them, or answer questions about how adoptions work.
Another favorite thing about volunteering at BACS is the staff –they are really terrific and their love for animals is genuine and palpable (I’m talking about you, Tim, Amelia, Marcie, Kate, April and many others!).

Who are your favorite dogs and cats, past and present?

I love them all, but I had a particular soft spot for the dogs Boi Boi, Cream Cheese, Demetri and more recently, Aquaman and Xena. Currently, I think the cats Tinku, Batman and Gity are all awesome, as are the dogs Philip, Chloe and Ferdinand. But my favorite pets above all are my cats Dora (nickname: Miss Monkey) and Teddy (nickname: Sasquatch or the Yeti), both adopted from the SF shelter in 2008.


Friday, February 22, 2013


Tulip trees are  blooming here in Berkeley.  The same could be said for our girl Julep.  She is one special pooch who loves to engage with people, frolic with other dogs and play fetch!   Julep has so much to offer!

Smiling pretty

Julep in playgroup

Leaping pit bulls -- it's Julep & Cali!

Julep chases and returns the ball
Resting after some ball play
Simply beautiful

(Playgroup pictures courtesy of Daniel McPartlan Photography)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Doggie Play

More doggie fun on this Valentine's Day.   Julep and Tommy were a lovely matching pair with their glistening black coats.   New puppy Barbara Jean joined the fray and provided some color contrast.

Later back at the shelter's smaller dog run it was time for some dog introductions.  We wanted to see if some new boys were ready for a play session.   Enter our bomb-proof baby Miss Carolina.  It's so handy to have her around to test other dogs with.  She puts up with a lot and we love her for it (and for many other things too!)

Miss Carolina met new boy Juice who apparently had lived with another dog before arriving at the shelter.   He seemed so pleased to engage in some play with the lovely Miss C.

 Finally, I'm afraid we inflicted a rather amorous boy Phillip on Miss Carolina at the end.  Sure, it is V-day and though Phillip was recently neutered it didn't keep him from trying to share his love with Miss Carolina.   She politely declined to engage but did partake of a shared drink (the other pictures were all rather... umm... x-rated).  It was nice to see Phillip out of his kennel enjoying some doggie time as he's still coming out of his shell around human beings.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Southern Belles Soiree

Miss Carolina and Julep are new gal pals now that they've had proper introductions over at the dog run. Both of these sweet girls are so connected to humans but today they engaged in some joyful doggie play too.

Could they possibly be any cuter???

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Friday Frolics & Sociable Strolls

Randi and I had the pleasure of introducing several shelter dogs on Friday. It was particularly satisfying because all the dogs had already been walked! So, if a pooch pairing didn't seem like a good match we could return the dog to the kennel knowing at least they'd already had some out-of-the-kennel time!

Last week we had Zuma out with several dogs so we knew he'd be a good starting point. Enter Julep who is a lovely dog and was quite keen to play though she's not the pushy type at all.

After a couple of false starts trying to match up dogs we opted to go with another known play pup Miss Carolina. I brought out new boy Riley to meet our oh-so-congenial gal Carolina. It turns out that Riley, who is older, wasn't that interested in playing. Miss Carolina didn't take any offense (does she ever?) and we decided to take the two pooches, a somewhat unexpected duo (young pit with older cattle dog) for a walk together. It was great to see them trotting along companionably.