Orientation at the Animal Aid Society

Posted on April 13, 2010


Well orientation was great! I woke up early but I didn’t get out of bed until 10:30am. Nate called and wanted to meet for lunch since his co-worker and boss are out of town this week. I hopped out of bed, got dressed, and headed out to meet him up in Ft. Eustis. We were going to eat at Little Italy, but it was closed due to a death in the family so we went to Hardees instead. I’m not a big Hardees fan, and today was probably the fifth time I’ve eaten there in the twenty years of my life… It was okay, but I wasn’t very hungry to begin with. I just wanted to see Nate.

After lunch I was going to go home and change before orientation at the Animal Aid Society. All was well until I got to the light right before the interstate… I heard a little “bing” sound and looked down to find that my gas light had come on! Whoops! Typical for me to run out of gas all the way up in Ft. Eustis… And with no money! Good thing I hadn’t already gotten onto the interstate because it’s quite a distance to the next exit!

I was quite lucky, though. I had 16$ left over from when I went grocery shopping yesterday for laundry detergent. That was enough to fill my tank up halfway. Next time, maybe I’ll pay attention to my gas gauge… But probably not. This is only like the third time I’ve run out of gas far from home and with little to no money on me… I’ve only been driving for a year and a half! Once again I feel I should not have been born a brunette. Seriously…

So anyway orientation was great. I left the house at about 3:10pm and arrived at the Animal Aid Society at 3:30. The enterance was blocked off by a chain to keep people from driving onto the property when no one is present, but I unlocked it and went through anyway. There’s no way I was going to sit there on Butler Farm Road for thirty minutes! Speaking of which, I’ve noticed that whenever people give you a specific time to meet them, they hold true to that exact time. Literally. No one I have met up with recently has arrived prior to the time scheduled – they’re either on time or late… and according to Nate, both of those = late. The people meeting me for orienatation arrived between 4-4:15pm as scheduled! Maybe I should stop being early all the time… But if I weren’t early, then I’d be late and no one wants that…

Sam didn’t show up, but her husband came in her place for my orienation and to show me around the premises (he is also the president of the Animal Aid Society). Orienation was like any usual orienation: I had to sign a volunteer card, I met a few of the other volunteers, I was given paperwork with information on policies and procedures, and I was given a tour of the dog runs along with a brief description of each animal’s individual persona.  The tour began with the food storage shed, followed by the first “wing” of dog runs. There were about six dogs on this particular side of the property. I’ve come to the conclusion that he showed me the dogs with more difficult personalities first, and slowly moved towards the more predictable ones.

In the first wing, I was told of each dog’s unique characteristics. One dog is very wary of people, especially strangers, and in her defense she has a strategy for scaring people away. Her tactics are simple: get behind the enemy and BITE!  The key with her is to never let her get behind you, or you might end up getting a nip on the butt! Another dog, Moon Eye, has the weirdest habit… He eats plastic! I was warned that I should never leave plastic lying unattended whenever Moon Eye is around or he’ll chew it up! Then there was another dog who doesn’t quite like people. She remained on the far side of her dog run when we approached, and wouldn’t look in our direction but instead kept us in the corner of her eye. I was told she’s “virtually unadoptable” because her personality is so unpredictable and she could cause a threat…

I wonder what it means when a shelter has “virtually unadoptable” dogs. Do they just live at the shelter until they die of old age? What becomes of them? I suppose I’ll learn the answer to this question in due time… I just hope that that dog gets to live a happy doggy life, and not just a kennel life forever (not saying that the AAS doesn’t provide a happy life for her… the AAS is an incredible shelter as far as I’ve observed – kennel life is just different than an individual home/owner).

Anyway we moved on to the next wing. The first dog we approached was a female black lab. I was told that she’s the type of dog who “wants to make friends with you, but you don’t make friends with her.” I take that as she is not entirely friendly, though I must say she really had me for a moment! She looked adorable gripping a chew toy in her mouth, with her tail swaying casually in the air as we stepped through the gate into the next section of dog runs. Most of the dogs in the second wing were pretty friendly, with exception of one who doesn’t quite get along with other dogs. I was told that he’s a big sweetheart with people and children, but to never put him with other animals.

The final wing was made up of generally friendly dogs, though one tends to hoard its food and become possessive, and another doesn’t quite like other animals… While every dog has it’s own personal needs, I’ll be accompanied by a more experienced volunteer until I get used to the dogs and to the daily routines. I start on Thursday, so I’m really looking forward to it… Right now I will only work on Thursdays from 9am-12 (sometimes 1pm if there is still work to be done), but once I get used to things at the shelter, I’ll be able to add more days. I may have to change my day when school starts, but hopefully I can make it work!

Also, I asked if it would be inappropriate to bring my camera and take pictures once my shift is over, and I was told that it’s perfectly fine! So I may be posting pictures of my time at the shelter pretty soon. I won’t be taking pictures for the Petfinder website though because another volunteer takes care of that and I really don’t want to take that position if someone else is responsible for it. Besides, I’d like to get used to my current duties before I add any more. Maybe in time I will get the chance to help with the Petfinder website, but for now I’ll stick with submitting pictures to the website’s scrapbook!

Posted in: Just Thoughts