Friday, August 20, 2010

One by one, until there are none

With so many wonderful dogs at the no kill shelter I volunteer for, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to make a difference.  What I've found to be energizing, rewarding and successful at present is to focus the majority of my efforts on one or two dogs at a time.

I'm an offsite doggie meet and greet maniac.  I believe that taking dogs out of the shelter environment into the "real world" can really make them shine.  At offsite events, the pups meet people who may not have even been thinking about adopting a dog, but they fall in love.  Or it gets them thinking about adopting.  Or there are the people that find going to a shelter heartbreaking or chaotic.

At the shelter, prospective adopters enter a room full of barking dogs (pick me, pick me!) where they may wish they could rescue all of them -- or may feel they all seem like out of control, wild animals who wouldn't fit into their family life.  They may try to ask questions, but can't hear the answers over the barks.  Some dogs may be jumping to the heights of their kennels, some may be spinning in circles, others may seem withdrawn.  But take them out into real world situations and their personalities shine.

I'm on giant high now having been directly involved with getting 3 long time resident dogs adopted in the past couple weeks and having all the dogs that I've taken to offsites now in their furever homes.  Six dogs in the six months I've been doing offsites and I've just recently ramped up the number of offsites I do.  Should I be thinking, "big deal, a dog a month when there are a constant 100 dogs at the shelter"?

I don't think so.  Because every single one makes a difference.  And when I'm successful, it inspires other volunteers to follow my lead.  Then one becomes two, two becomes ten, ten becomes fifty...

By focusing on one dog at a time, I really get to know every cute little quirk about that pup and can communicate them to everyone we meet and really give the potential adopter the full story of what they'll get from adopting the dog.  Like the one who loves classic rock music.  The one who gets such incredible joy from a squeaky toy.  The one who thinks he's a pony and runs wide circles around you in the playyard.  The one who will love you forever if you scratch his butt for him.  Or the one who looks deep into your eyes when you talk to her as if she understands and sympathizes with your every word.

Don't get me wrong, I don't spend all my time with only one dog -- I have to have a pipeline of offsite buddies so I can jump right to the next one when my current focus finds his/her home.  When I'm at the shelter, I typically walk 6 dogs each visit, getting to know them there first.  Some may need a little work before they can successfully mix and mingle with the general public.  Some are long past ready to schmooze it up.  What I learn I can share with other volunteers who are also doing offsites and promoting the dogs.

There are plenty of times that I struggle with wanting to help every one of them RIGHT NOW!  But it really seems like the path I've chosen with focusing on one until he or she gets adopted seems to be working much faster than when I try to focus on many.  And one by one, I will find them their furever home.

1 comment:

  1. hi there! great start and keep up the good work! the dogs are lucky to have you looking out for them :)