For the past two months, I have been going to the animal shelter six days a week to work with Francie. Sometimes, we go for a hike, other times we play Chuck-It at the park. When it's too hot to walk or play fetch, we mostly snuggle in the shade of a tree. I started doing this because Francie was floundering. She had lost a lot of weight (she was already skinny to begin with), wasn't eating her meals, didn't wag her tail, rarely sniffed anything, and seemed to be constantly pacing.
I knew what Francie needed was consistency and plenty of exercise, so that's what I tried to give her. Now, she is eating her meals and seems truly happy when we are out together. She is extremely affectionate and sweet. Look at that happy face in the pool!
The first three minutes with Francie have always been a challenge because she is beside herself with kennel stress, excitement that someone has come for her, and anxiety from all the other dogs in the adjoining kennels barking and going bonkers. She doesn't know what to do with herself, and so she bites the leash. After all this time, I know exactly what she's going to do, so I don't allow her to do it. I grab her collar before she can go after the leash in my hand, I clip the leash on, and we exit the kennels as quickly and safely as possible. We've got our routine down pat.
Today, as usual, I went to walk Francie, and as I started to go into the kennels to get her, one of our animal control officers stopped me. She said Francie had bitten her arm and had to be quarantined for 10 days because of rabies or whatever. The bite was purely accidental (as usual, she was trying to bite the leash), but still, due to rules and regulations, I am not allowed to be anywhere near Francie for the next 10 days.
So I went home and showered. But then, because there is a lot of ugly political stuff going down at the shelter this week, I got scared. There has been talk about having to euthanize half the animals at the shelter due to budget cuts. In a panic, I quickly got dressed and drove back to the shelter to make sure Francie was still there and still breathing.
Thankfully, I saw that she was alive, in the quarantine kennel behind the building. I found the shelter director, and I asked her to promise me that they would not put Francie down. She assured me that they would not euthanize her, but it broke my heart to see Francie back there, cooped up and not able to do much of anything. Francie could see me and hear my voice, and she started yelping and whining. The one hour that she looks forward to each day has been taken from her. She's being quarantined for a behavior that is caused by kennel stress. And yet, the consequence for that behavior is to confine her and cause even further kennel stress. How is that right?