December 18th, 2008
Submitted by EARS volunteer June Towler of Bradford, Ontario
“…and the cycle will continue.”
That is how EARS volunteer Margaret Blackman finished yesterday’s blog before she said sad farewells to the dogs and the rest of the volunteer crew. So the cycle goes on and I have been asked to continue the blog before I, too, go home.
Today was a very good day, with many wonderful people dropping by to offer their support either by dropping off much-needed supply donations, asking if they could volunteer to help with the animal caregiving, or even to apply to foster a dog. I think these good and kind people do not realize just how much it means to us to see them actually brave a snow storm to drive over to help. After caring for dogs who have endured such neglect, your heart just aches for them. It is like a ray of sunshine piercing through the doom and gloom of your emotions, reminding you that there is indeed hope and kindness out there, too.
Many people ask us how we can even do this, and why would we “waste” our vacation time to drive 6+ hours to work long days cleaning messy cages, feeding and caring for dogs who smell very bad and who are so scared they shy away from a human caress. Who can blame them for asking? Why would we want to see the awful and heartbreaking condition of these dogs?
But for me, these dogs have had their own version of Victory Day. They are loved and cared for now and everything that happens to them each day going forward is better and better. They will see, like we did today with kind people dropping in to help, that humans can be kind and loving too. Each day for them is brighter, and as most of them slowly come out of their terror and reach that milestone of being able to actually relax in your arms, for the trembling to subside if even for a brief minute, it is SO worth the effort to come here and volunteer. It never ceases to amaze any of us just how forgiving dogs can be — that they can trust again.
So the day was spent much as it has been each day, with a schedule of feedings, cleanings, and all the other chores necessary to keep so many dogs comfortable and safe. Because many of the dogs have gone to foster homes, we were able to spend a bit more time cuddling the remaining ones and letting them play. Most don’t know what a toy is for, and we have to teach them how to be dogs. An extraordinarily bright spot in the day was when we decided to open all the puppy crates in the puppy room and let all the healthy puppies play together. Watching them zing around, jumping over and on each other, grabbing toys, zooming all over the room with delight was an absolute highlight of a lifetime. It was one of those key moments where you realize “YES, THIS IS WHY I DO THIS!”
We got more of them clipped today too. Definitely not “haute couteur” haircuts but for many, their bodies are finally free of the restrictive and painful clumps of fecal matter, etc. entangled in their fur. For most, it was yet another fearful moment but the groomers were gentle and patient and got the job done.
We said goodbye to a few more of the volunteers and those great people will be missed, but we also welcomed some more new volunteers today, too. So the cycle indeed continues…