Saturday, September 5, 2009

Christmas in September

Submitted by Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager

Aside from the fresh water, clean kennels, regular meals and attention, the dogs rescued from a Turner County, South Dakota are now receiving the ultimate UAN volunteer care. Since the UAN and HSUS teams arrive basically self-contained, the only request we can think to ask of community members who are eager to help is toys for the dogs. We had the opportunity today to play Santa Claus and have Christmas in September.

The generosity of the Turner County residents has now made play time a much longer and fulfilling event of the day. Even the big dogs, who have so much energy, are tossing toys and pouncing, rolling around with them and wagging their tails. We also discovered that empty water bottles make ideal toys for the active puppies. They make fun sounds but are easy to “destroy.” Once the bottle has been chomped on by multiple puppies a few times, it goes flat and apparently looses its allure.

I think the nursing mothers may appreciate the toys the most. The puppies stop their non-stop nursing and tugging on mom to investigate the new thing we have tossed into their home. They cautiously move forward, sniff, pounce, jump back and then go for it. They play with their squeaky toys, balls, soft bones, tug ropes and each other until finally, they crash out in a big sleeping pile. Mom is able to get some quiet time and much-needed rest without her babies continually seeking her attention.

Watching the dogs act like “real dogs,” lounging around and playing, is great therapy for all of the hardworking volunteers. The delight these dogs have in getting their own personal, fun toy is obvious. After morning feeding and cleaning, we pass out the toys and listen to the sound of squeaks, grunts and yips until eventually the shelter is quiet…they have worn themselves out and are now on to nap time. This is the best part of the day. We watch the dogs sleeping peacefully, once in a while lazily getting up to take a drink of fresh water or look around and flop back over with a sigh.

Life is now good for these dogs.

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