Sunday, May 10, 2009

Things are looking up

Submitted by Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager

Yesterday was a good day. We saw a few of the animals starting to go home with their very relieved and grateful owners. There were a few more animals coming in, but for the most part it was a relatively quiet day. With this luxury, the EARS volunteers were able to do what they love to do and what they do so well: spoil the animals.

It is such a rare occurrence during a disaster response to be able to have more than a few minutes of "down time" to share with the animals in our care. We quickly have gotten to know, and grown attached to, many of these guys. From Marshmallow, the cat who snores so loudly he almost drowns out the dogs, to “The Twins" Linus and Rigby, the min-pin look-alikes, to the Rowdies, Rocket and Gunner, humongous German Shepherd mixes that thoroughly enjoy taking us for walks, we were able to get to know and enjoy these animals.

The two basset hounds who have been baying since they arrived finally quieted down when the volunteers realized they were right next to each other but couldn’t see each other. They removed the box that was between their cages and both dogs happily wagged their tails and smiled, such a small detail that made such a big difference in their behavior. “The Twins” had been singing (as we politely called it) since they came in. We finally gave in and put them in a crate together. They curled up next to each other and peacefully napped. We also discovered they expect to be taken out and cuddled OFTEN. They enjoy it so much and are so cuddly and attentive; they have trained us to take them out and sit on our laps almost hourly.

Sam, the smoky weimaraner, got to go home today after thoroughly wearing volunteer Kylie out after his fifth play time of the day, engaging her in ball throwing, tug of war, chase and many other fun games.

Trouble the terrier mix finally came around after volunteer Theresa held him on her lap for about half an hour to soothe his shaking. He started looking around and eventually turned into a happy, waggy, goofy dog. When he was returned to his kennel after his intense lap therapy he immediately ate his breakfast that had been sitting there all day.

The Labs played ball and the shepherds ran, the cats played with new mouse toys and the poodles cuddled. Once again UAN's EARS volunteers amazed me with their dedication, their energy and their compassion. They went so far above and beyond “care for the animals” it was incredible. The animals who came in so stressed and unhappy on Friday were able to have the ultimate play date yesterday and actually seemed to enjoy their visit to the emergency shelter. We expect a lot of activity tomorrow, but in a good way. Most evacuees were cleared to return home late Saturday, so after their short stay with us, these animals will most likely be going home.

It was an absolute honor to work with this amazingly hardworking team of volunteers. I know the animals benefited from their presence, the owners are immensely grateful, and I feel privilege to have been a part of the experience.

P.S. You can read more about the temporary animal shelter in Saturday's issue of the Santa Barbara Independent.

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