Friday, December 24, 2010
Yesterday I had an awesome experience helping out at the animal shelter Animals Taiwan: http://animalstaiwan.org/. I was warned to expect some tough sights, but if anything I felt the total opposite when I saw many of the animals. There are around 70 rescued dogs and 40 or so cats.
When I first walked into the office, I saw 6 to 8 dogs crawling around in the front area, looking almost like baby seals. These were mostly animals that had been hit by cars and could not use their back legs at all. Normally I would be shocked and quite saddened, but there was something about seeing them all together, and all of them so damn happy, that it actually made me laugh. There was not an ounce of sadness in the room because all of the dogs were just really happy, safe and being taken care of (and considering what they had been through, and their other options if not rescued, I completely understand).
My first job after was to walk a three legged dog named Elvis (they all have REALLY great names: Elvis, Phoenix, Button, Petey, etc). I was being tested for how I would deal with dogs to see what other dogs I could manage. I've always had dogs, and been a dog person, so I don't have any problem reading dogs and acting accordingly. So Elvis and I went on a 30 minute walk across the street at a park. He was a great dog, aside from a missing front leg, there was nothing different about him compared to any other dog I've been around. Here's a picture of Elvis:
After returning with Elvis, I was shown two small dogs, a small chihuahua "Button" and another small Pekingese dog. The Pekingese dog was so, so tiny, like half of the size of the chihuahua, and she missing her left eye; but man she was a happy dog. She never stopped eating and asking for more treats. Button, the chihuahua, was shaking and nervous and didn't take any treats. After a few minutes he calmed down a little, but still never ended up eating anything. Here's Button:
A few minutes later, they brought in a new dog that had never been walked before. I wasn't exactly sure if they had tried to walk her before or not, but she was very timid and they wanted to see what I could do with this new dog. I had a bag of treats left over from the smaller dogs so I put the new dog on the leash, used some treats and got her walking slowly up towards the park. She wasn't comfortable with loud noises, trucks, hand movements, people, or even really used to a leash, but after about 10 minutes, she kind of figured it out. After about 30 minutes in the park, we went to go back, but she wouldn't leave the park entrance area towards the street. She basically just sat on the ground and wouldn't budge. So I picked her up and carried her out to the road and she walked a little on the street and we finally made it back. Not too bad for the first time she's ever been on a walk I think.
I then walked a rather energetic guy, no real problems, just needed to keep control of the leash. Up next was Petey, an older blind boxer mix. Aside from banging his head a few times on some things (understandably), he was perfectly fine on the walk. My last dog was a young Labrador that was in perfect shape. Of all of the dogs, I would have expected him to be running all over, but he was cool, calm and collected.
It was already dark by now, so I said thanks and was on my way. I'm going back on Monday to help out some more. The only bummer is it is a little bit far; a 30 minute subway ride, and then a 30 minute walk. It gets me some more exercise and some time to study my Chinese I guess. I'm trying to speak as much Chinese as I can, even to the dogs! 過來, 過來 (guo lai, guo lai - come here, come here).
All in all, an awesome experience and glad I could help out a really great group. For more information on them and donations, check out their website: http://animalstaiwan.org/.