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Well, I did it today, put in to volunteer at the local SPCA. It takes two weeks to get the criminal record check done, so until then I can't take the animals off the property (even for walks). I can however go in, do grooming, spend time with them etc. I'm pretty excited :) I wasn't dressed for sticking around today, so I just went in and said hello to some of the dogs and cats....how could I not! I also scoped out the facility, and I've got to say, its pretty spotless in there!

I think I might even have my DH convinced to do some fostering later on down the line, depending on how much control we have over which dogs we can take in and what stage Caeda is at. That certainly won't happen until the situation is dealt with regarding our neighbour's dog, but its a possibility at some point at least as far as convincing my husband (YAY!). I'm sure if it comes to being able to I'll be asking for a ton of advice on that!

Anyway, how many others here volunteer with their local shelters? Have any thoughts advice or stories for me? I would love to read about them! Anything in particular you've found helps the dogs the most? Have you been in any difficult situations and how did you deal? Any particular "sanitary precautions" you might suggest to make sure Caeda doesn't catch something that may not have been recognized at the shelter yet? Oh, and how do you keep yourself from taking them home!!!
 

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I volunteer at the Oregon Humane Society and love it there. I train the big unruly dogs in manners, its very gratifying to see a out of control dog morph into a polite, nice dog. I'll go in the kennels with the little ones to give them a lap, because that's all most of them want. I also go in during the middle of the day to getting the more active ones extra walks, or time fetching a ball. We have a large fenced in walking area, covered runs, and even indoor rooms we can take them too. Mostly they just seem to want some people time.
Honestly the worst time I had was with a couple who had a 2 yea old female pit mix and they wanted to adopt a 3 month old boxer/pit female. They kept telling me how good their dog was with others and how they didn't need to keep them separate, most people are more willing to listen to advice and ask questions though. They didn't get the puppy, I think they were mad at me when they left, but oh well.
As for not taking them home, I got my 3rd dog after volunteering for 3 months.
 

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I work for my local SPCA at the shelter. I can tell you the one thing that our dogs lack almost completely is any one working with them. They get out to be walked and played with, but rarely does any one sit down and try to teach one to even just sit. We have some young, strong dogs that are hard to walk, so people avoid them all together. Then they don't get walked at all and when someone looks at them they're turned off by a jumping/mouthing/puller. I assume that's true for a lot of shelters.

Now, things that are specific to mine, but will likely vary:

I'd suggest wearing shoes there that you don't bring into the house. I don't know how your SPCA is set up, but we have quarantine and intake kennels and a healthy kennel where volunteers are allowed, so the transmission of any thing serious is a bit different than a generalized kennel.
Always read kennel cards and check out all the stuff on a dogs kennel before handling or going in. I can tell you the one thing that drives me absolutely bonkers is when a kennel will have a "Staff only" or "Do not walk" or "Do not touch these puppies" and I have to tell people to stop doing those things exactly.
We have a rule set that volunteers don't get involved in dog fights, which makes sense but also leaves me wondering.. just ditch a fight to run and find a staff member? You'll have to ask what they specifically want you to do in the event of a fight. We also have a system where staff only does introductions, and dogs that are friends with each other are identified on their kennels. I've had dogs injured on my shift as a result of people ignoring these warnings, so if there isn't a system like that in place just be alert and avoid letting any dogs meet with other dogs.

And please, don't tell staff if there is poop in a kennel. If you can clean it and are comfortable doing so, then feel free. Otherwise, we know. ;)
 

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Awesome start on the info both of you! I'm actually very interested in teaching a few dogs simple stuff like "Sit", I made sure it was ok to bring in treats for them :) On top of helping those dogs be more adoptable, I figure the more dogs I trained, the better I'll get at training, and Caeda will get to reap the rewards of that too.

The setup with "quarentine" seems so far to be simply separate kennel with signs EVERYWHERE "DO NOT TOUCH" etc. There is a white board with notices regardign particular dogs on it. There were puppies on "Parvo watch" there today, I don't think parvo was confirmed, but they were "mystery puppies", so it was for safety sake. I will dig out some old boots for use at the kennel though, I actually have the perfect spares :)

And TWAB, I promise, Just for you I will clean up the poop (and even the pee, or even vomit) when I see it instead of calling for staff :)

I've been considering doing this for a while, but now that I've actually gotten my paperwork in I'm SO excited. I feel horrible that Caeda is sitting at home that extra time waiting for me, but she gets me (and my DH) all of the rest of the time, driving to the kennel and spending an extra hour in town before I head home I think will do more good for those dogs than it will for Caeda. And DARN I fell good about it!
 

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Then please come volunteer at my kennel! ;)

Do you guys have a short term foster program? Never heard of it outside of the shelter I work for, but you can sign dogs out during closed hours and take them where ever. I sign a dog out every other weekend or so so my dogs can play with someone new and they can get out of the kennel for a while.
 

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Their regular foster program is 3-4 weeks and is usually reserved for dogs that need the extra attention. I'm not sure if we could do that (especially if the dog is ill!). I'm pretty sure that once they get to know me I'll be able to sign dogs out for shorter fostering, I would LOVE to, Caeda would love it too (and it might help me teach her to be calm around other dogs). Caeda actually has a reputation now for bringing slightly nervous, or slightly aggressive dogs out of their shell and getting them to play (only medium to large ones, she's a little too rough for the tiny ones).
I'm going to go in today and spend an hour or so and do some grooming perhaps, or just hang with a dog or two that could use it :) Plus get more information on the ins and outs of how their system works, get familiar.
 

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Short term fostering is the best. I am not a big fan of puppies, but Shambles loves chasing a small wiggly thing around so I can sign one out for a few hours and have them back before they poop in my house!
 

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Short term fostering is the best. I am not a big fan of puppies, but Shambles loves chasing a small wiggly thing around so I can sign one out for a few hours and have them back before they poop in my house!
HAHAHA, good idea! I'm not sure how Caeda would react to a puppy, she hasn't encountered a really small puppy since she was one herself! I think I'll have to give it some time and familiarity with the staff and the organization before I sign dogs out for more than walks though.

I did go in yesterday for about an hour and a half....If I read the reactions properly, they already think I'm kind of crazy. First time I come in as a volunteer (and not even a scheduled time for me to be there) and I offered to do some grooming, they mentioned if I was brave that one particular guy needed a bath, so I ended up bathing a fairly large (but sweet and gentle) dog that they don't think has ever been bathed before. Even better, he ended up clean, well towel dried and I was only wet below the knees (thanks to Caeda for learning how to manage that!). Poor guy spent his life living outside and his "kennel" was the underneath of a car! He wasn't as dirty as you would expect thankfully, apparently he was itchy so hopefully I managed to help with that.

My suspicions are confirmed, I LOVED it! I've got a ton of stuff to do over the weekend, but I'm going to try to squeeze in tomorrow while they are open if I can, if not I'll go back on Monday. It was tough to leave, but I do have Caeda to think about too, which is probably one of the biggest reasons I didn't stay longer.

So is bathing/grooming one of those things that often needs to be done that isn't done enough? Is there other things that might be good to offer to do? I know they have lots of walkers (and I presume other shelters probably do too). I want to ask them about the "other stuff" they need help with I know these dogs have lots of needs, and not that being walked is a small thing, but I'd hate to see it be the only thing they get. I want to spend some time with the cats too (they'll probably think I'm really nuts if I volunteer to bathe them lol)
 

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We don't do a lot of bathing or grooming because it tends to stress them out a lot, and with a strange dog there's always the possibly of a bite, then the dog is off the adoption floor for 10 days whether or not the bite was the dogs fault. I'll sometimes go in with a dog I've gotten familiar with and tried brushing, but only of they really need it and they're OK with it. Any major grooming that is absolutely essential gets done on the vet side where they can sedate or restrain them.
A really helpful thing you can do for some of the shy or scared ones is sit with them in the front of their kennel where people walk by and try to get them to greet potential adopters without barking, jumping or hiding. What most of them want most is to be with people whether it be cuddling, training, walking or any kind of out of the kennel activity, they just need attention..
 

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So is bathing/grooming one of those things that often needs to be done that isn't done enough? Is there other things that might be good to offer to do? I know they have lots of walkers (and I presume other shelters probably do too). I want to ask them about the "other stuff" they need help with I know these dogs have lots of needs, and not that being walked is a small thing, but I'd hate to see it be the only thing they get. I want to spend some time with the cats too (they'll probably think I'm really nuts if I volunteer to bathe them lol)
Oh YES. Our dogs rarely if EVER get bathed. We used to have a volunteer who did it all the time and she recently came back, but she is battling cancer so she can't obviously do it as often as she used to. Unless we get in a dog that specifically requires grooming, it falls on the way side and some of them have some really yuck coats going on, especially puppies.
 

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Oh YES. Our dogs rarely if EVER get bathed. We used to have a volunteer who did it all the time and she recently came back, but she is battling cancer so she can't obviously do it as often as she used to. Unless we get in a dog that specifically requires grooming, it falls on the way side and some of them have some really yuck coats going on, especially puppies.
Good, I really don't mind bathing dogs, even the big ones, and I'm going in after work so its not like I have anywhere special to be after I get wet :) I actually think I'd prefer bathing to walking simply to save my "walking time" for Caeda. Skitty56, you do have a good point though about the stress....I do intend on asking the staff about it though, as far as what dogs would be more likely to get TOO stressed. There is one small guy that REALLY needs a bath but I really don't think he would do well, he shakes when people come near, though I did manage to get a little lick out of him (my heart almost burst :D!). I might start working with him though, starting with the brush and see how it goes. I also made a point with the guy I bathed the other day of taking it slow and watching how he was doing. I can bathe Caeda in under an hour including drying, but this guy took me an hour and a half, and I consider that quick, he was luckily a trusting and sweet dog. He didn't "like" it, but he wasn't too stressed it seemed. I took lots of breaks and "massaged" him, which he seemed to LOVE. I am going into the entire experience with the shelter prepared for the possibility that I could get bit. I can only hope that trusting in the staff's knowledge of the dogs, and my growing understanding of dog body language, and personal judgement will prevent it.
I'll probably update this thread occasionally with some of my experiences, just to be able to share with people who get it, though my DH understands, I think he's already a little sick of hearing about it lol.
 

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It sounds like you are going to do great! I wish you luck! I am also very interested and looking forward to your experiences. You are doing something wonderful!:)
 
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