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Happy Tails #2 – Learned a Lesson


Overslept.  Scurrying out the door in my baggy sweat pants and large t-shirt I was off to the shelter.  The first thing that came to my mind on my way there is “thank goodness I don’t have to dress nice or I would be super late.”

Arrived exactly at 10:00 AM on the dot.  I walked into the shelter and had no idea what would be in store for me today.  This would my second day at the shelter and still a trainee.  What is there to learn today?

My supervisor and I began to change the water and dry food dishes for the cats in the backroom.  Then we moved onto their litter pans along with other volunteers.  I was quite familiar with the cleaning process after training from the previous week.  We cleaned about 8 cages in record time.  All the cats/kittens behaved extremely well and were extremely tidy.  No one left poop smears all over the walls or floor.  No one spilled their water dishes. No one peed in their towels/blankets.  Success!  In about three hours, everything was done.  Cages were disinfected, laundry is folded, and dishes were cleaned.    What a smooth day to the rough morning I had.  I guess it is my lucky day.

After finishing my work, I stayed around for a little longer to look at all the cats in the different rooms.  There is a front room with cats readily for adoption, a laundry room for new members waiting to be vet checked, and a backroom with a majority of the younger crowd.  While playing with some of the cats, I chatted with my supervisor and asked her questions about the training manual she had given me the previous week.  She gave me a few pointers here and there about the work I have been doing.  She said I need to be more alert because shelter cats are unpredictable and their sweetness can often be deceiving or sporadic.  She taught me the lesson that cats at home is different from cats at shelters because of their background.  Often times they are skittish and can react negatively to the smallest things.  Thus, I need to be more alert of their actions when I disinfect.

This lesson made me understand my role better as a volunteer and the things I need to be more cautious about.  I thought I learned most of what I needed to move up from trainee, but I was wrong.  There is much more that I need to learn because a manual does not teach it all.  Hands on experience are what I will benefit most from.

From this experience today, I realize that people are often times not aware of the responsibilities they have when they own pets.  Understanding how to take care of pets takes a lot of time and with insufficient experience can lead to animals escaping the house as a result of carelessness.  There is much more to learn outside a manual, especially with being observant and alert.  I will work on this lesson my next week.


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