Hungry Like The Wolfdog

, , , , , | Working | April 5, 2021

I volunteered with a wolfdog hybrid rescue farm. We had a pack of wolfdogs that were permanent residents at the farm, as having other wolfdogs coming in and out of the pack would have been traumatic for them. About half the farm, however, was set aside for the adoptable animals. They were held in large pens by themselves. On the weekends, it was one of my jobs to clean out the individual pens. There was plenty of poop from the week. During the winter, I would jokingly refer to what I picked up as “poopsicles.”

One very cold winter day, it was not much more than 20 degrees F (about -7 degrees C). I entered one of the pens that held a wolfdog. I greeted her, gave her a scratch between the ears, and went about picking up the poopsicles with tongs and placing them in the bucket I carried. There was a decent amount of snow that had accumulated on the ground, so it was easy to find my targets.

As my last task, I had to break the ice in the large water bowl so the wolfdog would have access to her water. I stepped to the bowl and started smashing through the layer of ice with the heel of my boot. All of a sudden, I heard a frightening sound: a menacing growl. I had been a volunteer there for years and never heard any of the wolfdogs make a noise like that. I slowly turned my head and saw the wolfdog standing not ten feet from me. She had fluffed up her fur to appear bigger and was baring her teeth at me. I was terrified. I started backing slowly toward the door, keeping the wolfdog in my field of vision but not making eye contact. I reached the door, felt behind me, and unlatched the handle. I made my exit. It was only after I was safely outside that I realized I was not breathing. I sat on the ground for a moment and regained my composure.

It was only after I got the owner of the rescue to come over that we were able to piece together the reason for the unusual behavior. She had been fed raw deer meat the previous day which she had not finished. She stashed what remained in the corner of her pen, behind her water bowl, under some snow. I simply was not aware of its existence and broke a cardinal rule: never get between a wolfdog and his or her food. I was fortunate to have received a warning from her before she did something physical. All in all, it was by far the most frightening experience I had as a volunteer there, and perhaps one of the most frightening of my entire life.

1 Thumbs
459

This Story Is A Real Treat

, , , , , | Working | October 29, 2020

In 2013, I spend a few weeks in Ireland, where I volunteer full-time at a small local dog rescue. English is a second language for me and I speak it fairly well, but I don’t speak Irish at all.

In the afternoon, when most of the daily chores are taken care of, I am free to take some of the dogs for a longer walk or cuddle and play with them.

One of the dogs in the kennels is a very timid adult male border collie, a stray who arrived a day or two before I did. He is very wary of humans and the constant barking and noise in the shelter stress him out. Consequently, he doesn’t eat well and spends most of the day curled up in the far back corner of his kennel. Whenever I can, I take him out for a long walk so he can get away from the stressful environment and relax a bit. It is quite a challenge as he is not used to walking on a leash, and close contact with humans makes him incredibly nervous. We usually walk for a bit until we find a nice, quiet spot where we sit down two or three meters apart and just enjoy the view.

Over the course of about two weeks, we manage to build some trust and he calms down considerably during our walks. One day, when we arrive at our usual spot, instead of keeping his distance as usual, he sits down right next to me and even accepts the treat I offer him!

Back in the kennels, I find the manager to tell her about the progress I made with the dog.

Me: “We’ve come so far! He came right up and sat with me, and he let me give him a treat!”

The manager seems confused for a bit.

Manager: “Which dog is that? What’s his name?”

I tell her and describe him. Suddenly, she starts laughing out loud and can’t seem to stop.

Apparently, this dog didn’t have a name when they picked him up from the pound. Because they received a few black and white border collies from two different locations on the same day, she just wrote down the name of the location on the little whiteboard at the front of the kennel and forgot to change it to a proper name later on. However, I didn’t notice this and just assumed it was some Irish name I had never heard of before. We laugh about it and agree to find a good name that suits him.

A few days later, the manager approaches me, asking about the dog’s progress.

Manager: “The other volunteers tell me that the dog outright refuses to be taken out of his kennel for a walk and that he still doesn’t eat properly or take treats from anyone.”

Confused, I grab a collar and leash and take her to his kennel, where he is curled up in a corner as usual. I call him by his name and he immediately comes to the front, shyly wagging his tail. I put the leash on him and take him outside the building where I hand him a few treats that he basically inhales.

Manager: “Well, I guess the dog is yours now.”

She turns around and goes back to work.

For a few days, I contemplate whether I can actually take on the responsibility of having a dog — I am still a university student on a tight budget — especially a former stray that has no training and probably comes with a good load of bad experiences and trauma. But finally, I decide to take him with me to Germany. We still haven‘t come up with a new name for the paperwork, and since he already responds to the one accidentally given to him, I decide to keep it.

And this is the story of how my dog, Mayo, got himself a new home and a rather unique name.


This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for October 2020!

Read the next Feel Good roundup story!

Read the Feel Good roundup for October 2020!

1 Thumbs
751

They Deserve A Cat Nap After This Rescue, Part 2

, , | Right | September 16, 2020

My mother and I run a cat rescue. A woman shows up at my house; she needs somewhere to board her cat for a while because she needs to move. My mom and I are willing to help, but we need information. 

Mom: “Does your cat have FIV?”

Cat Owner: “He’s never been tested, but I know he doesn’t have it.”

Mom: “If he’s never been tested, you can’t really know he doesn’t have it. It’s very sudden. How long will he need to be boarded?”

Cat Owner: “I don’t know.”

Mom: “Well, we’ll need to know dates and stuff, because it’ll be very difficult to find a foster if we don’t have a time frame.”

Cat Owner: “Well, I don’t know how long it will take.”

Mind you, she had already told me before my mom walked up that it would take a couple of weeks.

Mom: “I can’t really help you without information.”

Cat Owner: “You know what? Y’all can go to Hell! You’re a bunch of stupid b****es anyway. I hate people like you. You’re trash!”

This is why I don’t give people my address.

Related:
They Deserve A Cat Nap After This Rescue

1 Thumbs
299

We Feed Them Sarcasm And Kibble

, , , | Right | September 13, 2020

Two ladies turn up at the animal shelter I work at to sign over a pair of kittens. This happens as we’re filling out paperwork.

Customer #1: “You feed them while they’re here, right?”

Me: *Deadpan* “Nope.”

Customer #2: “MOM! Seriously?”

1 Thumbs
287

Ahh, Bonding

, , , , , | Legal | August 13, 2020

I was involved in… erm… liberating a family of abused dogs from a backyard breeder. This is the only time I’ve ever done something in my life that would be considered wrong in the eyes of authority; I’ve always been very straight-laced. However, my brother has fallen on the wrong side of the law quite a few times.

I call my mum to give her an update on the situation and let her know I’m safe, which she’s glad to hear, but she’s also annoyed that I’m doing something she considers to be wrong. 

Unfortunately, I decided to cheer her up by saying, “Well, I guess my brother and I do finally have one thing in common; we’re both criminals!”

I’m going to hear about this for the rest of my life.

1 Thumbs
410