Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Want A "Dog Farm"

I started volunteering yesterday with a local animal shelter. I knew that I needed to get out more, as my good friend Lana Hope likes to tell me "You need to go places other than work". Well, I finally took her advice. ;)

I have always been able to understand dogs better than people anyway, so I talked to a local animal shelter about volunteering over the weekend. They said that they could always use volunteers, and that they typically had them playing with and walking the dogs instead of doing some of the harder work like cleaning out the pens, which is typically left for employees and probationers that Madison County sends their way for community service for misdemeanor offenses.

I returned Monday, and they had me walking many of the dogs that they had indoors in cages, which were typically small to medium sized dogs (most of the large dogs were in large pens in another room). I was walking Jack Russells, Chihuahua, assorted mixed breed small and medium sized dogs, and a blue nose pit bull that was in the cage group (perhaps because he was recovering from skin wounds he got in a fight with a Rottweiler at a pound that got the best of him).

They hadn't had the pit bull long, and so they didn't know if I should walk him on the road where the shelter was located, so they let him into a large run pen they had on the front of the shelter yard. They said that someone had turned him in to a local pound because of frequent neighbor complaints about him being hostile to their dogs, and harassing them.

One shelter worker said that will happen with large breed dogs such as pit bulls, Akitas, German Shepherds, etc, that are known for being territorial. They have to be raised around other dogs as pups, socialized properly, and most importantly, spayed or neutered as soon as possible, or they will become territorial and hostile to other dogs.

It's such a shame though that it had to happen to him, he seemed like such a happy dog towards people, shelter workers had no problems handling him, and whenever anyone would approach the front door of the shelter, which was within view of the run pen, he would jump on the fence, and whine as though he was begging them to come pet him. They had a chew rope in the run pen, and I started playing with him, and remembered very quickly just how strong pit bulls are (especially a young year old guy like him).

Cantilever barn, Smoky Mountain National Park (Wikimedia)
I've joked before about buying a house in the woods with several acres and starting a "dog farm". I might someday, I can move out of my house in June 2015, and there is a rural county north of me that's still close to my job, but rather wooded and quiet.

At the very least I wouldn't mind a getting a second dog, it would help keep Happy Horse occupied, as much energy as he still has (and as much attention as he wants all the time). It would also help me to start life over.

I definitely want to return to return to this animal shelter to help out me, it's helped me to do something productive with my time, and I enjoy working with the dogs, and the people there. I almost wish I could do it all the time, but as one shelter worker told another volunteer, the shelter only hires part time people, and doesn't even pay minimum wage (they're exempt from Illinois' minimum wage law as a non-profit), she didn't say how much they paid, but it couldn't have been good. So much for the idea of working there full time......


  1. Have you ever considered training as a vet tech or something? Seems like you might enjoy that kind of work, though I have no idea if how much they make.

    1. Bureau of Labor Statistics says average of $30,290 a year, which is kind of low considering that to be a 'technician', you need an associate's, and to be a 'technologist', you need a bachelor's. Student loan payments would eat up a good deal of that salary.

      Besides, i don't think I could stomach seeing injured and possibly abused animals pouring in day after day.


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