Monday, March 28, 2011

Rescued animals begin revealing their personalities

Submitted by EARS volunteer Marcia Goodman of Cromwell, Connecticut

Who are the animals who suddenly arrived at the temporary shelter we built . . . what are their personalities? We couldn't find out on the day they arrived at the shelter, or the next day, because they were bewildered by the sudden change in their surroundings, and by the large number of people suddenly surrounding them.

Daisy the pig is underweight
But over the last couple of days, the animals' personalities have started to emerge, and we've started to give them names. Daisy, the pig, is a charmer. She rolls in the mud that we make for her and snorts her appreciation when her back is scratched. Many of us had thought of geese as aggressive, but these geese just move to another part of their pen when we arrive for feeding, watering or cleaning. They're beautiful!

The cats are a surprise to me. I expected all of them to be feral, and some seem to be, but there are the friendly ones and a few are eager for affection.

The dogs have personalities that are all over the lot. Some have tails wagging -- a few wag their entire bodies -- when we approach, as if starved for affection. Others just stare at us with curious or sad eyes, as if wondering what's happening. Still others are curled up in the back corners of their kennels completely afraid. The volunteers have begun trying to coax these dogs from their hiding places.

We have four moms with pups, and three have pups who are in transition from nursing to eating puppy food. Feeding time can be challenging when six or eight pups are in a frenzy, trying to eat everything in sight, including mom's food. We hold mom's food up in the air so she can eat and the puppies can't reach her food. In fact, for all the dogs who are housed in groups rather than individually, we watch carefully to make sure that the alpha dog doesn't eat everyone else's food. We leash some dogs during feeding so every dog in that pen gets the nutrition he or she needs. We think the prior failure to do this is the reason that some dogs are emaciated.

Feeding time for the pig is entertaining. We have a base of swine food and on top, we add everything we can find that she likes, from apples to the volunteers' leftovers from lunch. Our pig, though very big, is only about half the weight she should be, so we're working hard to correct that.

EARS volunteer Sara Dawdy
and Bixby
The volunteers' days now are falling into a routine. We arrive at the shelter at 8:30 a.m. and immediately feed the animals. Then we have a meeting, followed by cleaning the pens and refreshing the water. We also complete the animal care sheet for each animal so we can find out as early as possible if any health issues exist. We record information about their likes and dislikes that other volunteers might find useful during socialization. Janell, UAN's Emergency Services Manager, also parcels out special projects. After lunch we have socialization time with the animals and more special projects, and then comes the afternoon feeding and quick cleaning. By then it's 6 pm and time for dinner.

In tomorrow's blog I'll start focusing on a few animals who already appear to be making progress at our shelter. Animals are so forgiving!

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