March 29th, 2009
Submitted by Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager
Even though the past few days have been incredibly chaotic and busy, the EARS volunteers here in Fargo, North Dakota are succeeding in taking absolutely wonderful care of the animals. The dogs and cats are cleaned and fed, soothed and comforted, walked and played with from early in the morning until lights-out at night. Somehow the volunteers even know all the animals by name. We’ve had a few owners come in to pick up their pets and all they have to do at the front counter is to ask for Bubba or Harley or Sammy or Princess and someone will say, “Oh, I know where he is! I’ll go get him. He just had breakfast/went for a walk/got a treat, etc etc.” The animals’ owners are so immensely grateful for the care their pets are receiving. We’ve seen tears and laughter, stress and anticipation, but the overriding emotion is appreciation. I personally have been blessed by so many people coming in to visit their pets I feel sure I am going to heaven, at least for today.
Today we got to meet Davis and Delbert’s dad. We’ve all fallen in love with these two dogs over the past couple of days. Delbert is old and gentle and sweet, a perfect gentleman. Then there’s Davis. When you first meet him you would never know he was a working dog, he is all puppy (even though he’s three years old) happy and bouncy and wiggly. Their intake form noted they were seeing-eye dogs and we were wondering what was happening with their owner. He made it in today and spent about an hour visiting with the two dogs and many of the volunteers came over to introduce themselves and chat. It turns out he is also caring for his ill mother and her special-needs dog, in addition to helping his neighbors and their animals. He figured if they had to get out fast, he wanted to make sure Davis and Delbert were safe, so he brought them to us.
Fourteen-year-old Delbert is now his retired sight dog and Davis is his working sight dog. He told us he had another sight dog before Delbert, and when she passed away “a little bit of Delbert died with her.” He got Davis so Delbert could retire, and they ended up becoming best friends. They now spend most of their off-duty time playing and snuggling. Their owner says “Davis saved Delbert’s life.” How lucky we are to be caring for such wonderful animals! He kept saying he didn’t know what he would have done if we weren’t able to provide the service we do. That is a comment we hear over and over all day long: “I don’t know what I would do without you.”
The dedication of our EARS volunteers is inexplicable. I am in awe of their kindness and compassion. Taking time off work, missing birthdays and vacations, sleeping at the shelter so they can keep a close eye on anyone they are worried about, and working non-stop for at least 12 hours a day once again proves the EARS volunteers’ extraordinary commitment and selflessness. It is so obvious to the community when they come into the shelter, because they comment every time. And I think the animals know how lucky they are, too.