July 28th, 2009
Submitted by Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager
So I’m saying goodbye to all of my friends (dogs, cat, duck and human) from Hawaii. As usual it’s difficult to leave, but comforting to know the animals are in such capable hands. The local organizations involved are more than incredible. I have never met a group of people more willing and actually pleased to do ANYTHING for the animals — whether it’s cleaning poop, washing dirty crates, sweeping, paperwork or the fun part of actually loving on the animals.
I always have one special someone I find more difficult to leave than the rest. This time it’s our “girl in the bathroom,” Grace. She was one of the dogs who was able to push her kennel with her head and wander about the shelter. I would look away for a mere minute and she would be down the aisle, up against another kennel wagging her tail visiting her friends. We tried to bungee cord her kennel to structural posts, ziptie every corner and reinforce every point, yet still she would find a way to go a-visiting. Some of the other dogs didn’t appreciate this so much, so we needed to find a way to keep her safe. After much consultation and dismissal of ideas, we stationed her in the women’s bathroom. We added a doggie bed, blanket, two personal fans, food bowl, water dish and she was set.
A plus that we didn’t recognize at the time was, although she was very shy, she got many visitors. At first she hunkered in her corner and didn’t do much as the ladies came and went. I spent quite a bit of time with her prior to and after getting her situated, so we had become tentative friends. Every time I went in, she would peek her head around the stall to see what I was up to. Eventually, she started peeking her head around the stall to all visitors. She began crawling from stall to stall, visiting us as we’d come and go. It is cool and quiet in the bathroom, with lots of occasional quick visitors. Who would have guessed this would be the perfect dog rehab situation?
Just before I left for the airport, after saying my goodbyes to the beautiful group of volunteers (who promised to continue caring for my girl), I went into Grace’s room. Instead of the normal routine of convincing her to come out and luring her with treats, she banged out of the stall she was in and, as I sat down, plopped into my lap. This was so different from the many other times I had visited her and no small feat for a 60-pound shar pei-something mix. She fell into me with all her weight as I started to pet her and tell her how wonderful she was. That moment, right there, made the long, sweaty, hard week worth every minute. Grace was a girl worth loving and I was so proud to be part of making her life better. There really is no better feeling.