Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Little Ol' Me

I don't often talk about myself here, other than what's going into my mouth, so few of you may know that I work at the largest animal shelter in my state. We adopt out about 8,000 animals a year (a number which constantly startles me because it seems unfathomable), and I love working there (and also hate it sometimes as well). I have three degrees (a BA in English & Philosophy, a MA in English, and an associate's in massage therapy), none of which were necessary to work at an animal shelter, and it took me over 15 years working everything from teaching college courses to working at a publishing company to opening my own massage therapy business before I stumbled across my calling: working with animals.

I've adored animals since I was a little girl. Dogs still make me react with the blissful awe and admiration that's smashed across my fat face in the picture below. (And no, I won't tell you if I still wear wonder-woman underwear!)


Although my primary job at my work is adoptions, you end up doing a whole lot of stuff when you work at an animal shelter. I've adopted out many amazing animals, of course. And I've helped euthanize many amazing animals as well. I once chased a rooster for 30 mins through snow in below-zero temperatures wearing nothing but a sweater (we caught him!). I got bit in the mouth by a cat (I was new--sue me). I'm currently on ass-wiping duties for a big fat tortie we have on our adoption floor who is not able to reach her ass to clean it herself. I call it "Being on Ass Patrol." I spend time every hour of every work-day sneaking into dog kennels so I can snuggle the shit out of dogs I like. I start my mornings by passing out pipe-cleaners to all our cats and socializing with my favorites. I've become immersed in the strange and hard-to-explain culture that is shelter-work. I've gained amazing friends as a result, and I've had some others fall by the wayside. I've realized what a bizarrely alienating experiment it is to work at a shelter--you see a lot of things you can't just go home and chat with your friends about. I've realized what an amazing demographic of human beings devote their time to working an often thankless job for poverty-line wages, just because they love animals. And I've seen volunteers come out in the crappiest of weather, just so that our dogs get walked. I once started off a Monday watching a man pull a dead dog out of backpack (world's worst magic trick, and world's worst Monday morning). And I've had my days brightened by so many different animals that I can't even begin to count.

I think animals are the bee's knees. I find it hard to be sad when my face is getting slobbered on by my favorite pit bull or when my favorite cat, who likes only two of us that work there, plops herself in my lap for pets and gives everyone else the stink-eye as they walk by.

Animals make my heart feel freer. And they are the reason I'm vegan and that embracing veganism has never been much of an effort or sacrifice.*

And they're the reason that, among recipes and food-porn, I may start posting an occasional picture or two of some our adoptables here (and by here, I mean mostly on facebook, since I've doing more posting there than I have been here, clearly). Not just because, well, shit: who doesn't LIKE looking at adorable animal pics??? But because they're a good reminder why it is we choose to live (and eat) as we do.

That being said, this is me and my little heartbreak: my all-time favorite shelter dog who I'd adopt in a second if it weren't for the fact that my cats would murder me.







*When I say this, I of course don't mean I'm vegan just because animals make me happy, because that would be super self-absorbed. I'm vegan for the usual ethical reasons (and because they do indeed make me happy ;).

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