Sunday, December 14, 2008

A day at the spa

Submitted by Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager

After yesterday’s marathon grooming session we can see an extraordinary difference in the dogs. Many who were sitting at the back of their cage huddled in a ball are now energetic and coming to the front of their cage out of curiosity. This small act of kindness has made a world to them. They are obviously so much more comfortable after loosing pounds of hair, grime, feces and dirt. All of the dogs are adjusting to the drastic changes in their life styles. Clean cages, fresh water and regular food … they are acclimating to their new schedule nicely. The barking is much less frantic and many of them have settled down nicely.

Today, in addition to the dogs' ongoing vet care, our EARS volunteers worked hard giving baths to those who were shaved down yesterday. The dogs' pleasure was so obvious! They luxuriated in their "spa day" and let the volunteers rub them and rinse them as much as they wanted. Each dog was immediately put into a sweater (which members of the local community so generously donated by the hundreds – we have at least two sweaters per dog at this point) to keep warm. They seemed to act rather proud in their new duds, and pranced around a bit before settling down in their cages.

After their dinner we decided to spoil them and gave each dog a blanket or soft towel for a bed. It seems like such a small detail, but to these dogs, it was the world. Many of them spent ten to fifteen minutes situating the towel, rolling around in it, getting under it and finally settling down. For the first time since they arrived, the dogs were ALL QUIET. Even the dogs we have nicknamed The River Dancers (tappity, tappity, happy, nervous feet – almost sounds like thunder) were calm and quiet, finally. This happened before we left the room, before we turned the lights off, before we were even done working with them. For the first time, hopefully secure in the knowledge that tomorrow they would be given food and fresh water, they were able to relax. The dogs gave us eye contact and a wag of the tail, but would not budge from their comfy new resting places. (Photo above courtesy HSUS)

That moment right there made all of the hard work, sore muscles, frozen feet, smelly clothes and aching back worth it. That single second alone, of seeing a dog who came to us so miserable a mere 48 hours earlier, so obviously comfortable and safe did it for me. We all gathered around the cages acknowledging the product of our hard work.

It’s always hard to leave the animals that I have been caring for. However, knowing the EARS volunteers will continue to do everything necessary, and even those things unnecessary, but so important, make it much easier to return home. I will miss these dogs, but am so confident they have a bright future in front of them.


  1. Jannel, your first two posts brought tears and fury that people can be so cruel. This post made me smile with tears of joy imagining all those beautiful animals in their new sweaters. You need to have a fashion lay spread of photos! What really warms my heart and makes me proud to be an EARS volunteer is knowing that only 48 hours after meeting these dogs you know them well enough to give them nicknames: Riverdancers! Bless you!

  2. Way to go crew. I know the look in their eyes has changed from fear to trust. You have done so much in such a short time. I hope that your holidays are much brighter knowing what a good thing you all have done. God Bless. Lots of love. MacGuyver of Parkersburg WV fame (Ginny's forever mom)


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