"bit·ter·sweet: a blend of emotions that are sweet but also tinged with sadness."
The Beginning to an End
Today is my last shift as an intern at Best Friends Animal Society. For the past five and half weeks I have given my heart and soul to the dogs who live at 3 & 4. Ophelia, Pudge, Legion, Lyla, Desy(Adopted!), Parade, Cedric, Rusty, Oodoo, Apollo, Aurora, Bishop, Dalmon, Sunny, Hazel, Cholula, Ellie, Woody and Polo have all made an impact in my life and I will forever be grateful for their resilience, trust and companionship.
Five weeks ago, I was welcomed into 3 & 4 by Kathy and Sam, the two caregivers of these amazing dogs. These two phenomenal women are so hardworking and dedicated to these dogs. They know each one's medical needs, food diets, personalities, limitations, joys and histories. The intern program director asked me what one thing I took away from this experience. Although there are a million things in my head, it is undoubtedly the fact that each dog must be treated as an individual. I always believed this but now that I have seen it, lived it and experience it, I know what it truly means. Not only is each dog born with its own personality, but they all come from different beginnings, and it is up to us to trust that these dogs know their limitations. I learned to be patient and build relationships all based on the terms of the dog. After a few weeks of being present, treating at the gate, playing with the hose and doing side-by-side walks, I was able to build the trust with two dogs. These dogs were out of reach for me, and I was not sure that I would ever be able to work with them. Through the dedication of their caregivers, I was taught that patience and time can change the course of a relationship. The day I walked, sat with, touched and received kisses from Bishop and Polo will forever remain one of the biggest moments in my life. These two handsome boys deserve the same amount of love and attention as any other dog. With a just a little bit of time, you can change the course of a dog's life.
The Project Dog
A requirement of the internship program was to select a "project dog" and work with them for thirty minutes a day. This can be any dog that needs any kind of help from basic training to working on confidence. Ellie was a newcomer to 4 and had just moved in with Cholula when I arrived at Best Friends. Based on her energy and her looks, I assumed she was two to three years old. When I found out that she was in fact seven to eight years old and living with canine kidney disease, I was blown away. Long story short, I fell in love with Ellie, and she fell in love with me. I quickly learned that Ellie is not food or toy motivated which makes it extremely hard to train her. When you would walk into the shelter, walk her on a leash or give her fluids for kidney disease, she would act insane. Putting on her harness, there was always a risk of having my nose or cheek bones broken due to her constant jumping. I decided to take Ellie on a car ride and to my surprise she just laid down and enjoyed it. I had never seen her so calm. From there I committed to taking Ellie home with me every night. At home, she was the most perfect dog. She slept in her crate or on her dog bed, she sat patiently at the door while I put her harness on, she walked with a loose leash through town, and she laid still while I gave her fluids. It became so obvious that life at the shelter was not good for Ellie and that she would deteriorate in that high stress environment. My heart was heavy knowing that I had to leave Ellie, but the universe had a plan. We found out last week that she is being transferred to Angel City Pit Bulls, an excellent organization that specializes in pit bulls, has a large foster base and amazing medical care. She leaves the same morning that I leave to head back home. As I write this blog, she is here next to me snoring away. I will miss her terribly, but I know in my heart that she is heading to a place that can allow her to be her best self.
I may have been out of town for five and half weeks, but the BTDR team has been hard at work. We are close to securing a property so keep those fingers crossed! Be sure to keep any eye out for our capital campaign opportunities and foster applications on our website at www.bettertogetherdogrescue.org.