What's it like to walk a day in my shoes? Well, it ain't always pretty. There's a lot of dirt, sweat, and actual crap involved in running an animal rescue shelter. It's hard work, in the heat, every single day. If you've got a weak stomach, you'll likely bail Hour 1... and if you're not big on getting your hands dirty... well... I doubt you'll be impressed. It's far from Hollywood... this is Lucky Dog Rescue, Meridian, Mississippi.
For those who think that I've got some massive animal rescue operation going here, I have news for ya: It's just me... and a lot of rescue dogs. I have several volunteers who come when they can, and I'm beyond thankful for their help each and every time. But most days, it's just me... and some super- awesome pups.
And it goes a little something like this...
Each morning, when I arrive at Lucky Dog Rescue, my crew of peacefully sleeping dogs is suddenly awakened by the familiar sound of my footsteps on gravel... and the excitement and barking begin: "Mom's here! Time for breakfast!" I head for the building, unlock the door, and walk inside my second home: my animal shelter.
From there... I enter "work mode." Work-Ash moves quickly, efficiently, and without stopping. Anyone who's ever witnessed my kennel routine becomes exhausted, just from watching the process. It's a lot of work, and in short, here's what goes down:
I fix bowls, while an audience of excited barkers demands their breakfast. Then, I greet each of my babies, as I gently place food in each dog kennel. Next, I wait for one, or several, of them to excitedly jump into their food bowl and spill the contents all over the floor. For those extra-neat eaters, I fix another bowl, and as I hand it over, I say: "It would really mean a lot to me if you could keep the food in the bowl this time, and just eat it. Thanks." Sometimes they listen; sometimes... not so much.
When tummies are full, I open the doggie doors to let each pup into their adjoining outside run. Then, I start cleaning all 30 dog kennels.
Here we go: Pick up bowls. Remove toys, water, and beds. Scoop poop. Grab pump sprayer. Spray first dog kennel. Hose-out kennel. Squeegee kennel. Move hose, cleaner, and squeegee to next kennel. Repeat. Clean and squeegee walkways. Spray resulting nastiness down trough into drain. Start fans to dry floors. Wash bowls. Re-fill waters. Wipe down beds. Move fans to other areas to finish floor drying. When floors are dry, place water bowls, toys, and beds back in kennels. Let dogs back inside.
In conjunction with my cleaning routine, I'm also moving rescue dogs in their "buddy groups" out to the yards. Group 1 to Yard 1. Group 2 to Yard 2. Clean more dog kennels. Swap out dogs. Group 1 back inside. Group 3 to Yard 1. Group 2 back inside. Group 4 to Yard 2. Clean more kennels. Start the fans. Swap dogs again.
Then... once the inside is clean (which won't be true for long), I move to the outside runs... which means 30 more dog kennels to clean. If you don't understand what I mean, each indoor kennel has a doggie door that leads to an adjoining outdoor kennel. Those outside runs have to be cleaned as well. Sooo...
Scoop poop. Grab pump sprayer. Spray kennel. Hose-out kennel. Squeegee kennel. Re-fill water bowl. Shut gate. Replace lock on latch. Move hose, cleaner, and squeegee to next kennel. Repeat. Spray down troughs. Finish one side of building. Move cleaner and squeegee to other side of building. Scoop poop. Grab hose. Repeat hose/cleaner/squeegee process.
Again, in the meantime, I'm still swapping dogs to yards for outside playtime. That alone is an all-day process, because each dog gets outside playtime at least 2 times per day. So... Group 3 back inside. Group 5 to Yard 1. Group 4 back inside. Group 6 to Yard 2.
I should also mention that, for safety reasons, each rescue dog within each group is taken outside, and back inside, separately (with only a couple of exceptions). So when I say "Group 1 to Yard 1." That may imply one trip. Wrong. The number of trips depends on the number of rescue dogs within that group. If there are 2 dogs in a group, for example, Freddy and Pepsi's group, then I make one trip to take Freddy to the yard, then I walk back inside to grab Pepsi, and I make another trip to take Pepsi to join Freddy. The same is true for their return trip.
Next, I bag up the poop, and undoubtedly make a disgusting mess doing so. Then, I take the poop to the dumpster at the back of the property. I open the dumpster, which smells like pure ass, as it contains actual-ass contents. Next, I clean the pooper scoopers and place them back in their respective locations. I reel up the hoses, 2 hoses inside the dog shelter, and the 2 outside hoses. I re-fill the pump sprayers with water and cleaner and return the squeegees to their locations.
I swap more rescue dogs to and from yards, and then, it's time for walks. There are trails around the property, and each dog gets walked at least twice a day, in addition to their outdoor playtime. Walking time allows each dog to be special... it's when they get the extra love and one-on-one attention they deserve.
This is where Lucky Dog Rescue volunteers are so helpful. Volunteers can handle walks as I clean, so that the walks are nearly done by the time I'm finished. Plus, this allows the dogs to play with a new friend for a bit... which is really fun for them.
So... each dog is walked and returned to the air conditioned building, then I take another. This process continues until each dog has been walked. Honestly, when the last walk is finished, I'm about to pass out... but it's nearly time for the afternoon routine to begin. If I have time, I'll eat some lunch and check some emails. If not, I just start the process all over again.
It never fails, some dogs insist on using the bathroom in their damn kennels. They'll go outside and play, then they'll take a long walk... and as soon as they get back inside, they pee on the freaking floor. Soo... I'm always cleaning extra kennels as needed. Just gotta laugh about it.
In addition to the rest of the work, throughout the day, I'm in and out of yards throwing balls and frisbees, giving belly rubs, and refilling water bowls and kiddie pools. Some of my babies love to tackle me, so I tend to have dirt on my face, arms, legs, and usually, my ass too.
But I'm actually very proud of every dirty paw print that graces my body... there's a lot of love behind each one... and I'm covered in them.
I try to make animal rescue work as fun as possible. Ask any volunteer who's ever worked with me... A LOT of laughs take place at Lucky Dog Rescue. My pups are hilarious, and I can be pretty funny, too. There's so much love involved... hugs and kisses and positive energy. It's an awesome place to be.
I should also mention the numerous trips to-and-from the vet each week for basic care. Then, there are the weekly baths, which leave the pups extra-clean, and me extra-dirty. Once a month, each dog is given heartworm, flea, and deworming meds. On that day, no one is happy with me.
At the end of each long day, I take care of Pet Pardons, Lucky Dog Rescue Blog, pet adoption applications, and emails. I won't lie... on the days when I'm most exhausted, I pretty much suck at these computer tasks... but I try my best. I really do.
Sooo... to make a long story short, this is my life (the simplified version), and I'd love some help. If you need to lose a little (or a lot of) weight, I've got a job for you. If you need some free therapy, I've got a job for you. If you want to make a difference, guess what? I've got a job for you.
Each day, I've got lots of jobs for me. If you're willing, I've got a job for you, too. I'm a cool chick. I've got lots of awesome rescue dogs. Seriously, what are you waiting for??? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer!