Typically Atypical


People often ask me, "What's a day like at the shelter?"

There is only one answer: Totally unpredictable. That's what everyone who works or volunteers here loves best about what we do.

I'm working today (Saturday) because the management team rotates Saturday supervisory duties. It's a typically atypical day.

At this moment, one of our Administrative Specialists is dispatching an Animal Services Officer to a reported dog bite. Our officers are a lot like the stars of the "Animal Cops" television shows. taking care of the people and the animals in our community.

Today we have a group of people taking a Delta Society training class, the first step to their dogs (and maybe one person's bird!) becoming animal-assisted therapy volunteers who will visit sick people in the hospital, help kids become confident readers in "Read to the Dogs" programs, and generally help humans who need an extra boost from a furry (or feathered) friend.

We have people lined up to renew their dog licenses. Two other people are paying for their newly adopted pets.

Back in the adoption area, we have staff and volunteers scrubbing cages and walking dogs (even in the pouring rain). One is working on the never-ending pile of laundry (all those comfy cat beds, soft blankets, tons of towels and toys are washed after every use). Someone else is disinfecting and putting the stacks of dog and cat dishes through the dishwasher.

We have a constant parade of kind people bringing donations: dog and cat food, pet toys, blankets and towels.

We answer questions of every imaginable stripe. "I want to start a group that will raise funds for for canine cancer research. Where should I start?" (We recommended contacting Portland-area veterinarians specializing in oncology.) "Is Harry the Cairn Terrier that's up for adoption likely to shed? (Cairns usually are low-shedders and Harry might be an excellent match for this family.) "Are you open on Christmas Eve? (Wow. Who can think that far ahead?! Uh, yes, we are.)

It's a little city here, with a thousand dramas every day. Lost dogs. People reunited with their stray cats that someone thinks to bring into the shelter. People adopting the four-legged loves of their lives. The antics of kittens. We have jobs that can be tough, are often absolutely joyful, and are always interesting. 

And we never have a typical day.