Ey-Up, pals. (As we say in Yorkshire).
Seeing as I’m only working two more days at my job in a kennels near my home, I thought I’d share with you some of my experiences.
First of all, this.
This is how the noise of that many dogs boofing and borking hits you at 8am every morning. That, and, well, the smell of them.
Overwhelmed, you stumble in and squint at the schedule. (It’s 8am. I am NEVER in a good mood.)
Whoever’s due to go home that day needs to be put out first. Right. You make your way down the parallel line of kennels, down the corridor until you find the right dog, trying to read your boss’ writing.
“Ah. There you are… Brick? That can’t be your actual name, can it?” Whatever. You take the dog out and hope for the best. (Turns out he’s actually called Butch.)
We have four outside fields at work, so that four dogs can be let out at one time. This means that we work in patterns of four – four kennels get cleaned in one fell swoop.
On that note –
I mean, does anyone really like dog poo?
Sorry, I had to say it.
I’m totally un-squeamish, having spent much of my life up to my ankles in horse/ dog/ monkey/ elephant, uh, dung. Clothes/ shoes/ person can be washed, no biggie.
But even I have to say, I have succumbed to the occasional retch at the stench coming from over fifty dogs left snoozing overnight, some with better control over their bowels than others.
After all, you are there to look after the animals, you remind yourself, as you stare dismally into the brown river snaking its way under your feet. You wonder if insurance or advertising or something generally less hard on the nostrils would have been a better career choice.
Just… breathe through your mouth or something. Get rid of it… pronto…
And it’s worth it, it really is, when you bring the dog in and it looks better in a nice clean kennel, in it’s fresh bed, with breakfast and a new bowl of water on the side. It makes the dog happy!
They’ll have a quick perimeter check of their room and then come back to you, hoping for a quick ear scritch-scrotch before you move on. “Thanks for tidying my room, mom!”
Therefore, it’s worth doing just for that. You stroke their silky heads and floppy ears and smile a bit, revelling in the feeling of having done something for another living creature that has contributed to the mental and physical wellbeing of that animal.
So you stifle your yawns and wipe the sweat off of your temples and drag/ try and cling on to four dogs per block, your arms feel like they’re halfway out of their sockets and then you pick up two full buckets and try and tell yourself that no-one in the history of ever has had their arms fall off from lifting heavy things so just stop being a big baby, okay?
You throw down the water, you clean the kennel, you put the bed in, you fill up the water, you bring the dog back and swap it for another eager face who’s nose is poking out of the kennel front, wanting sO BADLY to be next because they just can’t hold in that pee any longer.
There was this lovely Labrador we had in, who was so high-energy and crazy and so desperate to go out: but he was well-trained enough that he would hold his pee until he had one paw out the door and then, about two feet from the nice grass, he would relieve himself with a sign and an ingratiating grin. Sorry mum, I didn’t want to pee in my room, but I just couldn’t wait!
A* for effort there, lil man.
It might not make the front pages of a national newspaper, but seeing my doggos and kittens (read: mostly chubby, grumpy old cats) happy and loved and looked-after (and yes, I think of them as “mine”, now) whilst their owners are away, makes me so happy I could burst.
Looking after animals is what makes me feel joy. I genuinely believe that it’s my life’s purpose.
But in the same way, working with animals isn’t for the faint-hearted.
It’s messy and smelly and high-pressure. If you mess up, the animal takes the toll of that, and that’s not fair.
You work so hard, and it’s not for yourself but for them. And you’ll try every day, to work harder, to give them a little bit more of your time and attention. Because they’re nothing but good, and you want to do everything you can for them.
You don’t change the world by taking care of animals, not always. It’s not all rhinos and elephants and “cool” stuff, though that’s often what is advertised. Sometimes it’s poop-scoopin’ and feeding and making sure the animals in your care are happy.
And that, to me, is enough.
Animals are – so good. 🙂
Love and lots of boofs and borks,