by Wendy Hunter
Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF will be sharing their animal rescue adventures with us now every month.
“We’ll be friends Forever, Won’t We, Pooh?” asked Piglet.
“Even longer,” Pooh answered. -A.A. Milne
As an ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation) volunteer, I have done a lot of things. I have cheered when excited families choose a lucky critter to take home, and I have wept with broken-hearted people surrendering their beloved pet for reasons beyond their control. I have also witnessed heartless humans relinquish senior dogs because they have a new, improved, younger pup at home, and there is too much turmoil in the house. I have stood in stunned amazement, when our resident groomer takes a pitiful, mangy, matted mess of a mutt, and trims and shaves him until he resembles nothing even close to his former self. Instead of a mop on a skateboard, he looks like a real dog, all four legs and wagging tail. I’ve participated in many ARF events, such as our Sweetheart Breakfast, Halloween Haunting, Holiday Open House, Woofstock, Pawsta Feed, and Petco Adoptions. I have picked up a lot of poop, and I have played with a lot of pooches. But last Saturday was my first experience visiting a local shelter for a dog “pull.”For those of you unfamiliar with this term, please do not take it literally. It does not mean we physically drag a dog from its kennel by the hind legs, kicking and screaming, with its tiny front claws dragging along like nails on a chalkboard. That would not be nice. No, it just means that we ‘pull’ dogs who may not have much chance of being adopted at the shelter, but may have a better opportunity at ARF. The shelters often send us photos, asking if we might be interested in particular animals. In a perfect world, we would take every single solitary one of them, but lack of space is always there, rearing its ugly head. It’s like that stupid voice in your head, that’s always saying, “No, you can’t do that.” So instead of a whole pack, we only selected two senior dogs, a chocolate and vanilla swirl combo of tangled hair and timid eyes. Enter Pooh and Piglet, stage left.
This destitute duo was unanimously named for the strong odor emanating from them. What WAS that smell? Ammonia? Dirty diapers? Let’s face it, they reeked. But in a shelter, you really don’t get to choose your bunk mates. Who knows where that mutt next door has been? Is he wearing Dollar Store cologne, or did he just mess with a skunk.
Ewww! In actuality, it was just layers of peepee because that’s what happens to little doggie bladders when they get frightened. However, we didn’t hold that against these cuties, and we knew that with a good bath, or maybe 12, they would be good as new. I remember holding Piglet in my outstretched arms, while she was “air swimming” as if she couldn’t wait to get going. She obviously didn’t know about the bath plans. Piglet is a black and tan terrier mix, with a long beard and bushy eyebrows that frame her fuzzy face. Pooh is a Maltese mix whose eyes could barely be seen beneath his overgrown hair, and though his color appeared to be a grungy grey, it turned out to be white after all. Had we noticed his rather pronounced hunchback earlier, we may have ended up naming him “Quasimodo.” Sanctuary!
I’m happy to report that at this particular shelter, the employees seem to care a great deal about their charges. The young officer that assisted us was knowledgeable and kind. He spoke to our adoptees in a soothing voice, as he administered their shots and microchips. He was more than willing to answer any of our questions and to show us around both the indoor and outdoor kennels, in case we were interested in any other dogs for the future. I was later told by our owner, that this was one of ‘good’ shelters, and I had no problem believing that.Back at ARF, Pooh and Piglet enjoyed the soapy results of what only a nice long lather can produce. Piglet stood with her dripping front legs draped over my shoulders, her soggy nose buried in my neck, as if to say, “Hey lady, if I’m gettin’ wet, so are you!” Pooh received a quick clipping, and after roughly 5 pounds of hair was removed, he also endured a sudsy soak. Afterwards, we carried them out into our grassy Meet & Greet area, where the sun was shining and a lovely breeze was blowing. Piglet relaxed on the lawn with her legs stretched out, while Pooh gingerly tottered about, stopping occasionally to sniff the flowering posies. We set up a playpen for them in the front office later, with a squishy bed and fluffy blankets. It was wonderful to see them snoozing away in cozy comfort. It made me feel good. It made me feel worthy. It made me smile.
One day, in a more humane future, we may not need places like rescues and shelters. There might come a point when all animals are treated with compassion and caring, with tender hands and soft hearts. Perhaps each and every beast on Planet Earth will have a loving home, a warm bed, tasty treats, and a family to call their very own. In this idealistic utopia, havens like ARF will no longer be needed, and all volunteers will celebrate and rejoice. It probably won’t happen in my lifetime, but you never know, anything’s possible. Maybe when pigs fly.
Update: June 24, 2016, Sadly ‘Pooh’ passed away.
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue.