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 First day volunteering at the Hawaiian Humane Society. I almost cried.

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Male Join date : 2013-03-24

PostSubject: First day volunteering at the Hawaiian Humane Society. I almost cried.   Mon Jul 14, 2014 3:06 am

I'm currently in Hawaii, away from my dogs for 4 months, which is the longest I've been away since they were born. I miss them all so much, and I decided to figure out a way to get myself around dogs without looking like a creeper. Yes, I went to the local dog beach...without a dog...and I felt like a creeper. So no more dog beaches. After going through the application process, I took the orientation class at the Hawaiian Humane Society (HHS) yesterday, followed by the dog walking/running class. I needed to take these 2 classes before they would let me handle the dogs. While I was doing the necessary training, I kept hearing a dog howling in the "staff only" area. It sounded like one of my huskies. I wanted to get a backstage pass to be allowed to go back there and see who and what it was for myself. I told the staff that I can spend the entire day volunteering on my days off, the next of which happened to be tomorrow (today).
So I went today as early as I could. I wanted to get there at opening (8am) but ended up working late last night on night shift for 12-hours, coming home at 3am. I arrived at the HHS around 11am today and started taking dogs out for walks and potty breaks. Some of the dogs were in their kennel all night, and then all morning, without ever being taken out. Most of these guys are house trained and were holding their poo and pee while waiting for someone to take them for a walk. I saw some other volunteer walking a dog that was not from the kennel area I was familiar with, so I asked him where that dog came from. He said it was from the back area. Oh! I asked if we were allowed back there, and he said yes. He said he would come back and give me a tour later, which he did.
The dogs in the back were the newer dogs waiting on owners to claim them, or still under investigation for cruelty, etc. Most of the big dogs were back there. That guy I heard howling was a black GSD mix, but looked mostly GSD. It had ears about 3/4 the size of a normal GSD, so maybe it had husky in it, thus the howling. Everything else about him looked GSD though. I wanted to give him love and take him for walks so bad, but I was not allowed. So I plopped down in front of him on the ground outside his kennel and just talked to him. He kept looking at me with those sad eyes like he understood. The pitbulls and other dogs were in the nearby kennels barking away, while this guy just laid down and stared at me. He was underweight and had a sign saying "feed 2 times a day" I guess to help fatten him up. He had a nasty ear infection or some drainage that looked literally like diarrhea all down the side of his face. It was disgusting and sad that someone would let him end up like this. His entire underbelly looked like a giant callous, furless, and covered by sagging skin. I wanted to take pics, but I remembered we were not allowed due to potential ongoing investigations.
There was another dog with a tumor that had grown out of its eye socket, and looked like a dangling eyeball. Even the volunteer pointed the dog out and said "look, that's his eyeball hanging there." Upon closer look, his eye was still in socket, and that was a growth or eyeball size tumor hanging there by a thread. The volunteer told me, after reading the dog's card, that it was going to get put down soon. It was 13 years old, had medical problems (eye tumor), and had an unlikely chance for adoption. I went back to that dog on my own later and stood there watching him. There was nothing wrong with the dog that I could see, other than the eye growth. So remove it, bathe him, give him some love, and you have a perfectly happy, loveable dog that might still have a few years left. Why just kill it now because it's too much work? If I could save them all, I would, starting with this guy. He looked so sad and unloved.
I'm getting sick to my stomach as I type this out in detail, forcing myself to relive the memory of today. I couldn't take it anymore and had to flee that staff only area before I started crying. These were only 2 cases. I know shelters all over the world deal with cases like this and worse every single day. My hat is off to those of you who do this for a living, or volunteer long term. This was ONE DAY for me...my first day...and I almost couldn't handle it. I kept wanting to get back home to my 4 dogs, but it will be another 2.5 months before I can hold them again. In the meantime, all I can do is give my love to the dogs here at HHS, as long as I can stomach the bad with the good.
Anyways, sorry for being so long. I really thought this would be a short post. I reek of "shelter dog" smell and need to get cleaned up. I can't wait to go back and give more love next week on my day off. Hopefully some of those big dogs in the back will have been moved out front for adoption. Most of the adoptable dogs were small dogs, but I love big dogs (I love all dogs, but big dogs more, thus owning GSDs and huskies), and want to be able to walk and handle the bigger guys and gals.
Oh, and I was given a tour of "death row" (a room of all feral cats -- we own 5 cats, 1 of which came to us feral, and she is fine now)...don't even get me started, poor kitties.
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Female Join date : 2013-06-14
Location : Missouri

PostSubject: Re: First day volunteering at the Hawaiian Humane Society. I almost cried.   Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:55 am

It takes guts to be a good volunteer and the fact that it affects you so much I think is what makes you perfect to be there working with those dogs. After my latest bout with a bad shelter I'm realizing it's not enough to just volunteer and pat yourself on the back while doing it. you have to truly care about these dogs to do them real good on an emotional level. As awful as it seems to just put an older dog down over what should be a pretty simple medical thing I would rather see that than to have a dog suffer with a medical ailment and live on without proper treatment as the dogs at the shelter Keno came from do. Dogs go in there with whatever is wrong with them and they never get help or relief until they are adopted. But you are in a perfect place to advocate for that dog. Perhaps if you could track down someone willing to take it the shelter would be willing to write it over to them? Is that allowed?

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Male Join date : 2013-03-24

PostSubject: Re: First day volunteering at the Hawaiian Humane Society. I almost cried.   Tue Jul 15, 2014 5:40 am

As I sat with those dogs looking into their big sad eyes, I did some deep thinking, and I couldn't help but ponder the long term effects this volunteer work might have on me:

1. I was heartbroken to think that there are people out there doing this to animals everyday. Being vegetarian/vegan myself, I try to avoid any animal dying or even being harmed due to my diet. I couldn't imagine purposely hurting something I considered a "pet" that I'm supposed to love. I truly feel that I have a strong connection to animals, ALL animals, because I somewhat love them all and don't eat any of them. I would have a pet cow or pig or chicken and love them just as much as a dog or cat, and one day when we have the acreage and money, I will have all sorts of rescued farm animals...at least that's the plan! I do understand that mankind has no closer connection than to a dog, thanks to the ancient wolf/human bond. Dogs are special in my heart more than anything else.

2. I attempted to predict the future, seeing myself doing this volunteer work long term, and I wondered if, over time, I would become so numb to the cruelty and death, that it would cease to upset me. Is this possible? How do funeral homes handle dead and sometimes mutilated humans every day? How can rescue people handle abused pets every day? Do you just become numb to it and see it as your duty to make at least some sort of attempt to help? Do you stop caring? That's what scares me. Would this make me emotionless? Or would I have to force myself to become emotionless to continue volunteering? I don't ever want to feel nothing when I see these maimed, once beautiful creatures.

Those animals spoke to me today. Their story was told through their eyes looking up at me through those bars. They told me "I was born to love you, and I trusted you unconditionally, and look what you did to me. And now here I am -- to die -- to die because I wasn't loved enough. I'm going to be punished for your wrongdoing. Sentenced to death for a crime I did not commit. You committed the crime, and I will die for it. I was born to love you, and now I will die because you didn't love me back. Why couldn't I have ended up in a different home from the start? I don't even get to plead my case. I was evaluated and deemed too old or too sick to be placed in a home with people to love me until my end. Instead I will meet my end, never having been loved a day in my life."

I spent 4.5 hours there today, in an attempt to give each dog love, even if that was the first and last time it will ever feel loved in its life. This was my calling. I'm about to cry just typing this. I have to stop now.

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Male Join date : 2013-03-24

PostSubject: Re: First day volunteering at the Hawaiian Humane Society. I almost cried.   Tue Jul 15, 2014 5:46 am

I just wanted to add, while I'm thinking about it: I don't cry much, so the fact that I keep getting close means something. It hopefully shows the effect these poor animals had on me today. Other than dogs dying in movies (Hachi, etc.), I haven't cried since the last time my Mother spanked me as a kid, so probably 30 years now. I've been dumped by girls that I "loved", my Father died when I was 19, etc. None of that made me cry. If I watch a dog die, even if I know it really didn't die and it's just Hollywood and pet actors, I still cry. I think getting up there in age (I'll be 40 next year) is softening me a bit. I think finally owning dogs these last 7 years is softening me a bit. I've loved dogs and wanted pets all my life. I finally got one when I bought Nara from a breeder in 2007.
So yeah, I don't want to come across as some sappy I-cry-daily guy. I don't cry at all. But dogs and wolves make me cry. I don't know why. I do know why. There is a special connection, and like I said, THIS is MY calling.
You want to know what else made me cry recently? This:
[Look into those same sad eyes, this time of a wolf. This is the scared, unsure look those dogs were giving me through their bars today at the shelter.]
***This video can be found on youtube and other places, and you can click on CC (Closed Caption) to get the English translation, but when I wanted to paste the link, youtube wasn't playing the video all the way through. I am not sure if it's an error, or just my connection. The link I provided played all the way through.***

Quote :
Since 1989, the Monte Adone Centre for Conservation and Research of Exotic and Wild Fauna (NPO - Voluntary Association) rescues, cures and rehabilitates the injured indigenous wildlife animals found on the territory of Bologna province (Emilia Romagna Region, Italy) in order to reintroduce them in nature. Moreover the Monte Adone Center welcomes the exotic animal species sequestered because of their illegal trading, detention and mistreatment (Centro Tutela e Ricerca Fauna Esotica e Selvatica - Monte Adone).

On January 9, 2012 the wolf Navarre was recovered from the icy waters of a river in very dramatic conditions: undernourished, with a paralysis of the hind limbs and with 35 lead pellets in his body. After several diagnostic tests, two weeks of intensive care in the infirmary, monitored 24 hours 24, Navarre started to walk. He was transferred to another enclosure of the Centre, suitable for his rehabilitation, which requires a gradual recovery of motor function without subjecting him to excessive physical effort. Thanks to a video camera placed in the enclosure Navarre is monitored day and night without being disturbed. It's still a long way, various diseases have weakened him a lot, but Navarre, thanks to his incredible will to live and care he received, started to walk improving gradually and giving good signs of recovery.

For those interested in the full version of his story: http://www.centrotutelafauna.org/storia-navarre.html

Read more at LiveLeak.com - http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=efd_1332284152

So yeah, I think being away from my dogs and family for so long is having an emotional effect on me. I love my wife, kids, dogs and cats so much, and it's hard being away from them. When I'm with them, I'm distracted by life (work, family, chores, dog stuff [training, exercising, feeding, etc.]), and I don't have time to watch these movies and videos and cry. There's no crying in baseball says Tom Hanks!
I think, as I get older, the realization of the inevitability of death is setting in, making me appreciate and value life and love more and more. One day, they'll be gone, and I'll be gone. I want to live life to its fullest and love those closest to me (to include the dogs at the shelter, as they are currently the closest to me) as much as possible before I don't have the option. I want to live for today, because there's no guarantee that tomorrow will come. Just ask my Father on May 13, 1994. Tomorrow never came. Each day, these dogs and cats at the shelter: tomorrow never comes...
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Female Join date : 2013-04-08
Location : New Zealand

PostSubject: Re: First day volunteering at the Hawaiian Humane Society. I almost cried.   Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:31 am

I have sat and read, and re-read this. It has brought tears to my eyes, and I like you am no crier. I have never come across animals in shelters here like the ones you described but I have no doubt that I would break down if I did. That soul destroying look of hopelessness and betrayal never stops affecting you if you are a person who does care and you do not become hardened to their suffering.
I have no great words of wisdom or advice on how to get you through the next few months and how you can cope with what you are faced with at the shelter but I simply could not read this and then just click to another topic. I greatly, greatly admire the amount of heart in this post, it is one of the most honest things I have read in far too long. You just restored a little of my faith in humanity.
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Female Join date : 2014-06-26
Location : west Texas

PostSubject: Re: First day volunteering at the Hawaiian Humane Society. I almost cried.   Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:34 pm

I avoided your first post, because i would have cried while typing. Today I read everything else, and here I am crying, my heart aches for you, those animals you are helping, the wonderful, resilient wolf video, and those who have posted.

With me it's always been that way, my husband asked once why i cry like a baby when we watch something with animals in it, but oddly don't when it's humans. Now this does get complicated and controversial, (disclaimer I never want to bring up guns or religion on the web, today is different) whatever you believe in, my belief may be different and I'm sorry. Animals were put here for purposes, they are all beautiful, and precious in their own way, for man to take that beauty for his gain, is morally wrong. I personally believe Kevin that those wonderful dogs and cats that were never loved will be forever loved in a better place, (I'm trying real hard not to offend anyone), those that have been cruel, neglectful, abusive will not be rewarded with eternal happiness. Think Dante's Inferno. This is the only way I can get past these atrocities of man towards animals.

My true love has always been with all dogs and cats, size and type has never mattered. There are terrible, terrible people breeding lions in Africa so they can be killed by hunters for profit. People here in America do not want wolves reintroduced into the wild. It seems like most people are happy to see something in a cage and not be free as they were intended. I was first introduced to the sad realities of our world, and seen a glimpse of hope, when as a child I watched the movie "Born Free" the movie is older than you, me, most of us. Could only watch the first half of "Old Yeller" not spelling that right sorry. I can not imagine life, mine as well as future generations not seeing the majesty of the wolf or lion.

We can not stop the evil, the person who gets a cat or dog, and then throwing them away. After all we live in a disposable world. what we can do is give the love and compassion to those that we are around everyday. and Kevin in your current situation it is those helpless dogs and cats, they will see a better day with you here and in the future for eternity. And know that you will be rewarded today as well as eternity. I hope that this will soothe your soul.

Many years ago my vet needed a paid helper, and I told him I would do it for free. He apologized and told me no. Later I asked my husband why he didn't want me to help, my husband said you're too sympathetic it would crush you.
I hope you find peace today Kevin. God bless you
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Male Join date : 2013-03-24

PostSubject: Re: First day volunteering at the Hawaiian Humane Society. I almost cried.   Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:00 pm

I saw that you both replied, and I was afraid to read. I honestly just walked away from my computer...

...then I came back to see what you wrote.

Now I'm sitting here with tears welling up in my eyes. I can't even respond with what I want to say. I will after work tonight.

I went back to the Shelter today for 4 hours and plan to return on Thursday for 3-4 hours and all day on Saturday from open-close or until they kick me out.

Thank you for your words. I will tell you all about the nice dogs I walked and loved when I reply next time.
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