Helter Shelter

I am thoroughly enjoying my volunteer time at the animal shelter. I've been going 2-3 times a week, although I often wish I could go more often, while at the same time always feeling like there are other things I SHOULD be doing with my time than playing with dogs. Like, working and making money, for example. But the animal shelter is SO gratifying that many of the other volunteers go there everyday--huge kudos to them.

all white pit bull francie looking up at the camera with mouth open and tongue out, she has beautiful pale eyes that always look like they're smilingI have to admit that I have fallen in love with Francie, a young white pit bull who could NOT be more different from Cabana. Francie is all lean muscle, with a thick powerful neck, and a mouth that spans the entire width of her head. She has also bitten me three times--I know, yikes. But they were ALL accidental! Twice, it was because she was trying to bite the leash in my hand (she has a horrible habit of playing tug with the leash) and grabbed the side of my thigh along with the leash. And the third bite was because she was gnashing a tennis ball while leaning against my leg, and she caught a piece of my jeans and my skin with her teeth (like I said, her mouth is really wide).

francie laying on a small plot of weeds, looking happy and tired with one ear up and one ear downFrancie is absolutely ball obsessed. There is a long narrow run behind some service buildings near the shelter, so narrow that I have thrown countless balls onto the roof of the service building or over the fence on the other side. You have to aim the ball dead center, or it's gone. If I try to take Francie for a walk before taking her to the Chuck-It run, she objects vigorously, which involves playing tug with the leash (hence, the two aforementioned bites). The only thing that seems to stop her from these antics is a squirt bottle, and it works like a charm. I don't even have to squirt her now; just pointing it at her is enough to stop her. Too bad it took me a couple injuries to figure that out (they weren't terrible bites; my skin was broken and rather bruised, but I didn't need a band-aid or anything, probably thanks to the sturdy denim of my jeans).

To be clear, we won't be adopting Francie (but I do have hopes of fostering her if my family would agree, which is doubtful at best). She and Cabana haven't been introduced, although I do think they'd get along. But I think Francie is just too much dog for us--I see it in everything she does. She carelessly runs into stumps and rocks, nicking up her legs without a care (Cabana would be carefully picking her way around obstacles). She DEVOURS tennis balls in her huge jaws--it's kind of scary to watch her ferociously rip one apart. But Francie is also SO sweet and smart. She has totally wormed her way into my heart, and I think about her all the time--I'm crazy, I admit it.

Actually, it's addictive to see the positive changes in all the dogs I've worked with (three of them, all pit bulls), even in a few short weeks. The first couple times, of course, I had no relationship with the dogs, and they wouldn't even take treats from me. The shelter is a stressful environment, so much change, uncertainty, noise, chaos. But after working with the same dogs every time, they are responding more and more, walking a bit nicer on leash every time, enjoying a grooming session or a belly rub, leaning up against me for a cuddle. A little love and stability goes such a long way. Makes me wish I was going there again tomorrow.

JackDaddy  – (April 21, 2011 at 10:50 PM)  

Let's hope she finds a great home soon!

Beth and Alfie  – (April 22, 2011 at 7:04 AM)  

What a wonderful thing to do! :)

Kari in WeHo  – (April 22, 2011 at 9:45 AM)  

shes beautiful! WE don't consider those bites in our house since they really are just accidents during play sessions :)


Amber-Mae  – (April 22, 2011 at 10:12 AM)  

Francie is gorgeous! I'm sure she would enjoy staying at your place until she finds a new forever home.

Tessa99999  – (April 22, 2011 at 11:44 AM)  

I agree with Kari. =P We don't really consider those bites either. Nips at best. "Bite" has way to many negative connotations with it that some people can't get over. She's a BEAUTIFUL pit! I adore the breed; they are amazing dogs! I'm also insanely jealous that you get to volunteer there! Our local animal shelter only fosters animals, and that's a no go at the moment, but hopefully a little later I'll be able to help out in other ways! =) Keep up the awesome work!

Martha G  – (April 22, 2011 at 2:50 PM)  

I agree about the nipping being an accident. Could you do an overnight with Francie? I think that if you take enough pictures and write a lot about her, someone will fall in love with her and adopt her soon. People like to know something about a dog's personality.

We have a policy in our humane society that will not same-sex dogs together (if the dog being adopted is a bully breed). I don't know if other shelters are doing this, too, but ours is pretty strict about it.

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