Archive for the ‘dogs’ Tag

Entering the outside world   Leave a comment

I don’t think you guys understand the severity of the pine pollen around here.




It rained and thunderstormed all night, so all of that accumulated within, like, twelve hours. The asphalt is dyed yellow! Fear the pollen!

Although, admittedly, the pollen on my shoes is fairly recent. It’s probably only been there for two hours. I had the great joy of tramping about with a couple of excited dogs. Yes, I decided that, now that I was no longer working all day in the middle of the day, that it was time to start volunteering at the animal shelter again.

My first dog was Arianna.


I chose her because obviously. Look at that dog. Look at that face. Her ears are two different colors! She has an eye patch! She was so sweet too. She did tend to jump a bit and she was a little mouthy, but she never bit. I was easily able to get a collar on her and get her outside. She was good on a leash, too, and she had this weird tendency to just sit randomly, and then look at you, waiting for a treat.

big boy

I was hesitant about walking Big Boy, although he was next in the kennel order. He’s 61 pounds. But he sat calmly in his kennel, so I gave him a shot. It turns out that I can’t handle 61 pounds of boxer energy. He pulled me without even trying — his stride was just that long. But he was a sweet dog. He stopped just so he could lean into me and demand pets. I was very happy to oblige.



Huxton is my new buddy. He’s an eight-year-old beagle, and he has something important to say. When I came into his kennel and tried to put the collar on him, he started howling. Then he would stop howling and give me a serious look, like he was trying to gauge my opinion on whatever he had just howled about.

I would pat his rump and say, “Yes, you are a good dog.”

This was apparently not what he was howling about, because he would start howling again, then look at me to see how I reacted. This happened several times before I was finally able to get the collar and leash on him.

The biggest problem with the kennel is that we have to walk all of the dogs past all of the other dogs in order to get them outside. All the dogs go nuts, both in the kennel and out. Some of the walking dogs get scared and won’t walk. Some dogs in the kennel jump and snarl at the walking dogs. We try to pull the dogs as close to our bodies as we can and get them out into the sunshine as soon as possible.

Huxton was totally chill. He ignored the other dogs and heeled perfectly. Once outside, he padded along nicely, sometimes next to me, sometimes in front of me. He sniffed things like he was a connoisseur. He maintained this air of perfect dignity mixed with asthma. He would walk, then stop and pant, and then walk some more. I brushed his back with my fingers as best as I could, and he would look at me as if acknowledging that yes, I had done something, and he appreciated it.

Huxton was the best.



Tiffany was the last pup I walked. She was all about playful energy, so I prepared a toy to distract her while I got the collar on her. It worked perfectly. Tiffany was all about playing. She wanted to be everywhere, to sniff everything. It took a lot of energy just to keep her from running us into the road.

While we walked, I noticed another dog following us. It was a smallish dog, mostly black, but with a brown chest. It had huge, pointed ears. It stared at us. Tiffany ignored the dog. I walked along and kept my eye on the dog. It was definitely following us, and I couldn’t see a collar. It slowly closed the gap on us, but I could tell it was going to keep its distance.

I walked Tiffany back a little faster than I would have otherwise. I walked her to the front of the shelter, rather than the back. Ricci Kearney, the volunteer coordinator, was standing in the reception area with two boxers and a tawny pitbull; three administrators were at the front desk. One of them was on the phone, talking about trapping kittens.

I wasn’t sure who to speak to, so I just said, loudly, “There was a dog following us.”

The administrator asked, “Who was the dog following? You or Tiffany?”

“I couldn’t tell,” I admitted.

Ricci took charge. He put the boxers and the pitbull in the volunteer office and emerged with treats and a leash. Tiffany and I went with him. I described the dog; he said it was a shepherd mix, probably. But the dog was at the field across from the shelter. “That looks like a Chi,” he said.

Tiffany pulled at the leash, trying to run to the stray. The stray began to back off. Ricci had me take Tiffany back inside so he could focus on catching the dog.

I put Tiffany and all my volunteer gear away and then emerged from the Center to find Ricci and another volunteer trying to slowly encircle the dog. I decided to join them. So did another volunteer, an older woman bearing dog treats. The sheer amount of us frightened the dog and he disappeared into the woods. I felt guilty; I should have just left. Ricci said that they would put out traps for the dog.

Posted April 10, 2015 by agentksilver in Personal

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I haven’t volunteered in a while, so I was super excited to start again   1 comment

I have to be honest: I fall a little in love with every single dog that I walk.

I started out my dog walking with an expectant mama dog, Jessica Rabbit.

jessica rabbit in a hat

I took her out for her third walk of the day. I felt bad for her, what with being pregnant in an animal shelter and everything. She was a well-behaved dog, eager for treats but not particularly excited about humans. I was able to get the collar on her without wrestling her, and she walked nicely, not pulling on the leash or anything.

The next was a handsome boy named Stewie.

It made me think of Stewie Griffin, but Stewie was also a very well-behaved dog, although he was excited enough about the walk that I had to wrestle the collar onto him. Since he was such a big boy, I was nervous about him pulling, but he only pulled a bit and calmed down a bunch as soon as we were outside and he was able to relieve himself. He still pulled after that, but not as violently.

The next dog was honestly my favorite dog out of the whole bunch, Lil Eddie.

His bio says that he “walks well on a leash” which is a half-lie. I’ve seen worse. But Stewie and Jessica were such good walkers that Eddie was stinker by comparison. But Eddie charmed me. He was clearly going to be more difficult than the previous two dogs, so I held out my hand for him to sniff — and he put his paw in it.

Eddie knows Shake.

Eddie also tried to pick fights with dogs in the kennels he passed. But away from dogs, away from the shelter, when it was just us and the outside, Eddie was great. He didn’t pull during the walk, but he would just randomly stop. He would look at me to make sure that I was seeing what he sniffed (I didn’t), and then, when I didn’t react, he would take off. I decided to see what other tricks he knew. He seemed to only know Sit and Shake, but he was absolutely delighted to be asked and leaned against me. I was completely charmed.

The next dog was Roscoe.

I was nervous even going into Roscoe’s cage. He kept jumping against the door. I tried to distract him with a treat, just as I do the other dogs, to get him away from the door so I can go inside. He would go for the treat, but as soon as he heard the rattle of the door lock, he would run back to the door and jump on it. There were three uneaten treats on the other side of his kennel, and he was more interested in the door? Finally I just did my best to slip in. He didn’t even try to escape. Apparently he was really excited that I was there.

Roscoe jumped all over me. It took me a while to slip the collar over his head. I then started stroking his back and whispering shhhhh at him, hoping to calm him down. And he did calm down! So I reached over to adjust the collar to fit. That is how I discovered that he was chewing on the collar. As soon as I got the collar out of his mouth, he began jumping all over me, almost knocking me down. I felt a sudden pain on my cheek, and felt it go hot — he scratched me!

I got the collar off of him and got out of his kennel as soon as I could. I took out my phone and checked my face with the camera. There were three hot pink welts across my cheek.

Face scratch
(sorry for the weird hipster angle. my webcam is terrible at picking up details like thin scratches on the cheek, this was the best I could do)

I decided, after a moment of thinking, that Roscoe had just been over-excited. There was no malice in his scratching. However, he was clearly too much dog for me, and even though he clearly needed a walk, I decided not to go back and try to walk him.

I chose the next dog simply because there was a ribbon for Best Leash Walking in her portfolio.

Novia was a great dog with a sad face. Not too much in the way of personality. More than anything she seemed insecure. She kept stopping and looking at me like she expected me to validate her or something. She was, indeed, great on a leash. I had no problem getting the collar and leash on and off. Just because she was so easy after the Roscoe fiasco, I gave her extra treats.

Lambeau was my second-favorite dog. There are a few dogs who interpret leashes as tug-of-war ropes.

IMG_20141119_192733_664 I will never stop a dog from playing with a toy. Especially not a shelter dog, who gets so little playtime anyway. Lambeau and I had a blast playing tug-of-war with a leash in the parking lot. Whenever James and I are finally able to get a dog, I am going to tell the matchmaker volunteer that I want a dog that likes tug-of-war. Lambeau knows. Tug-of-war is life.

Posted November 20, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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This is what I do with Norepinephrin most of the time   Leave a comment

I walked three dogs today. The first dog was a wonderful dog, Hutch. I think Hutch is probably the first dog that I’ve ever done well at walking. He walked in a straight path, I scratched his back, and then we returned. Then I walked Clyde, then I was so exhausted from walking Clyde that I walked Friendly, who is a sweet and calm dog.


This is Clyde, dressed in his proper attire. His canine bio states that he is “good on a leash” which is the biggest lie I’ve ever heard. Clyde pulls on the leash constantly. He also barks a lot. That second reason especially is why he’s the dog that’s been in the shelter the longest. One of the other volunteers told me that Clyde had already been out but that he needed “special enrichment” — basically, he needs to spend extra time away from dogs, with humans. He barks a lot because having other dogs stresses him out. He needed to be taken away from the other dogs and petted a bunch. That sounded like a good time to me.


I spent about ten minutes nearly getting my arms pulled out from their sockets. So I started trying to pull him in the opposite direction he was yanking — not trying to get him to stay on a path, just trying to not get him what he wanted. Maybe if he got distracted by not getting what he wanted? Anyway, after like a minute it was obvious that wasn’t going to work, so I started planting in place whenever he yanked. If he pulled, we would stop walking. That actually worked? He learned very quickly that if I stopped, he should stop, and wait for me to move. Except that whenever I moved, he would try to run ahead, leading to me just stopping.

I returned sweaty about twenty minutes later. The other volunteer, tossing tennis balls for two dogs in the yard, asked me if I had petted him and given him the treat she had given me. I confessed that I had been too busy trying to get him to stop yanking to even pet him. “He needs a lot of one-on-one time.” She understood, and said that behavior like that was exactly why Clyde was on the “enrichment” list.

Once we were back in his kennel, Clyde suddenly decided that he needed some petting. I tried to get the collar off, but Wake County uses these ridiculous Martingale collars that are impossible to get on and off easily. The dogs always interpret my attempts to get the collars off as scritches. So Clyde thought I was trying to pet him, and he began jumping all over me, and then suddenly I was sitting on the ground and Clyde was laying on my lap, happy as a clam.

I realized that Clyde was overstimulated by all the other dogs, and massively undertrained. He was a good dog — he craved human contact and wanted to do good for us. He didn’t seem to hate other animals. He just…couldn’t handle everything. I felt sorry for him. I wondered what would happen if I walked him every day. Would it be like the fox in The Little Prince? If I walked him every day, would he like me best, and start behaving more, and calm down, because he had the same person walk him every day? Would I even be able to get to the animal shelter every day?

I pondered this as I walked Friendly, because she was such a good walker that I didn’t have to focus all my energy on her. What would even be the point, I thought, of walking the same dog every day? What was my end goal? How did I expect him to change? Was I here to save animals, or help them?

That was a strange question. Friendly and I walked up a side street and I watched as she pondered a tree. In my head, the conversation turned, abruptly, between Maggie and Emily. It was an extended conversation, since I had to justify to myself why Maggie and Emily would even be talking about dogs. Neither are particularly interested in animal welfare, unlike their creator. But saving people was a natural interest to Maggie.

Maggie: What’s the difference between saving and helping, anyway?
Emily: I don’t know. I think maybe saving is when you rescue people, but helping is when you get them to rescue themselves.

I hadn’t realized that Maggie and Emily represented my superego and my id. They’ve come so far since I came up with the characters as a junior in high school. They weren’t even friends when I came up with them. They ran in different circles. But now they’re inseparable in my head. I don’t want to hurt them. Maggie is smart, she always does the right thing. Emily always says the right thing, though.

I turned Friendly back towards the animal center. It wasn’t my job to save animals, I decided. I’m only here to help them.

Posted October 20, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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