It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Did It! Woohoo!

Holy crap! I did it! I went back to the animal shelter! Woohoo! I went to work that morning with a change of clothes and a plan. It was pretty much touch and go all day, but at 5:00, I walked down the hall, stood between Jaclyn and Lindsey's offices, with my bag in hand, and said "should I go?" They said to give it another try, and that's about all I needed.

My plan? Well - it was a bit of a stalker's plan.

The first time I went, orientation started at 6:00, but I got there a little before 5:30. I was chatting on the phone with a friend, and I saw a woman pull up, park and walk into the building. She was wearing a volunteer shirt. During the orientation when the girl was taking us around, I saw the volunteer again, and she looked like she totally knew what she was doing. Fast forward a week, after I decide I can't stay there any longer and leave, I see the same woman pull up, park and go in the building.

Hmmm....perhaps she comes every week at the same time? So she was my plan - go to the shelter, hope she is there, introduce myself and see if I can follow her around and learn a few things.

Halfway to the shelter, after work, as I was pumping gas in the ghetto, it dawned on me - what if she's NOT there. Geesh. Would I stay? Possible, but not probable.

I get to the stoplight just before the shelter, and I start to get a little nervous...I turn...I turn once more into the shelter...pulling up the driveway...saying a little prayer...and I see her car! Phew! Victory!

When I saw her that first week, she was in with the cats - which just so happens to be my fave section, so I went straight there. volunteer. I filled some water bowls, swept up some spilled food and said hello to each kitty.

I started walking through the back...wait! What's that?!?! There she is! YAY! I was really hoping she would be nice. I walked in and introduced myself and told her I had been been there two weeks ago and felt like I wasn't really sure what to do. I asked her if she would mind if I walked around with her for the afternoon. She was SO nice! She was very friendly and happy to show me around. She explained things very thoroughly and I felt immediately more comfortable. She even showed me how to handle the big, scary dogs. (By the way - the leash/collar hook conundrum? You use the leash like a choke chain...I guess the collar is just a little extra something to hold on to?)

Also worth noting:
  1. One of the previously deemed unfriendly front desk ladies was actually quite friendly. As we were leaving she said "Thanks so much for coming in and taking care of our little animals. We really appreciate it."
  2. Next week - shorter pants - hair in pony tail. I wore pants that touched the floor...and the pee...and the dirty floor water...and probably even the liquid poo I tried to step over. The ponytail? I took a puppy out so a little girl and her mom could visit with her. I passed her to the little girl, and the puppy's nails got caught in my hair. No problem - my hair gets caught in everything. But, wait...what's that I see in the puppy's little claws? Damnit. It's poop. Gross.
  3. Even after you leave the building, the smell stays in your nose.
I got home and wouldn't even wear my pee-soaked pants into the house. I stood in the garage and took my pants off. The garage door was open. I didn't care. If you drove past my house earlier in the week and thought "huh - was that Ginger with her pants off?" It was. Usually Christopher is quick to point out "The window's open! Put pants on!" (when I am standing in a room, during the day, with a window facing nothing but trees). Oddly, stripping in the garage with cars driving past garners no comment. Go figure.

I have lots more to share about the animals, but I'll save the cute little animals for another post. One in which I can properly make you feel bad and want to adopt one...or a mama cat and her five cutesy, little, six, whichever. (Seriously - a whole family - they are adorable, I LOVE them!)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bookcases By Dad

I wanted to turn our office into the Biltmore Library. I had really grand ideas of a wall covered in built-in bookshelves, complete with a library ladder. Christopher, for whatever reason, didn't think I was going to be able to match Biltmore. Psh.

I decided against the built-in covered wall, but my dad made me two super nice bookshelves for either side of the window in the office.

(the wall before bookcases)

(the wall after bookcases)

(with books!)

It may not be on the same scale as Biltmore, but I'm really happy with it! There's even room for more books - YAY!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lanterns Are Up!

You may remember I made some pretty lanterns a month or so ago. We finally just hung them on the porch, and I think they look awesome! I'm so excited about them!

(picture is way fuzzy - I had to turn the flash off so you could see them lit)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Anybody Know Of A Good Exterminator?

This cannot stay here.

I can't stop itching.
It might eat me in my sleep.
Get rid of it now.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My First (and likely last) Volunteer Experience

Settle in for the LONGEST POST EVER!

I’m totally a quitter and I feel really bad about it. REALLY bad.

I have wanted to do something at our local animal shelter for a LONG time. I don’t find that I have a ton of extra time to actually spend at the shelter, but I was really thinking I might be able to help in other ways. I thought I might be able to help with a blog, a facebook fan page, a twitter page, maybe some sort of photography thing. I have some great fundraising ideas! REALLY awesome ideas!

I filled the application out, and I went to the animal shelter a couple weeks ago and attended their new volunteer orientation. The girl that did the orientation was great. She was really friendly and knowledgeable. I was SO excited about it. I was even MORE excited when I learned that they don’t even schedule you to volunteer – you just come in and help whenever you have time. Have a few extra hours you hadn’t planned for on a Saturday? Come on in! Awesome!

They did, however, make it very clear that you need to schedule your first volunteer session so that an employee can take you through everything and show you what to do. I went home thrilled. I called a day or two later and scheduled an appointment. I also mentioned that I managed a lot of social media outlets and campaigns as part of my job, and I would love to help them with something like that. I got the response I was kind of afraid of “yeah – we can’t really let the public do that type of thing.”

I tried to explain that I would even be willing to write things for them on an as-needed basis – as in I write it, hand it over, and then they decide if and what to use it for. I’m offering free copywriting here. That shit doesn’t come cheap if you have to pay for it. Oh well. I was still really excited to be able to go in for a few hours each week and help out.

The next week came. I brought a change of clothes to work – I even left work an hour early to accommodate their schedule (not a problem). I got to the shelter and went to the front desk, told them who I was, that I was there for my first volunteer and that I had scheduled it and was told to see the front desk. I’m not going to go into all the details of my three front desk experiences, but let’s just say nobody up there is going to win any awards for their outgoing personality.

This lady walked me into an office, had me sign in, and said “well – just…if a person wants to see an animal take it out and put it in one of the rooms. We clean the rooms between animals.” “What rooms?” “There are two here and one…eeeh – back there” (general hand motion). “Great – and how do you clean them?” “There’s some stuff back there…here – you just pump it and spray it. So…yeah – that’s about it…whatever.”

Yeah. Okay. Seriously? I had to schedule a time for this?

So I wander up the hallway…look at all the animals, and figure I will go in and check out the cats. I go to walk in the cat area and a woman is walking out. She seems to know what she’s doing and she gives me a very weird look. I ask, “Is it okay if I go in to see the cats?” Again with the weird look – looks STRAIGHT at my big-ass nametag that says, “VOLUNTEER” and says, “Are you a volunteer?

For reals? I said yes, and she said “wonderful! Come with me.” Lovely! Someone that will actually show me how to do something!

She starts to show me how to sanitize the rooms between animals, when…I don’t remember if I felt a tap on my shoulder or heard someone say something, but I turned around and there was a woman with her hand stuck straight in my face saying, with great authority, “Hello, I’m ‘Kate.’ Who are you?” “Uhm…hello, I’m Ginger.” “And did you schedule your first volunteer session?” “Yes…” “With whom?” “Uhm…’Mike’…” I got a look like there was simply nobody there by the name Mike. So I tried “uhm…Mitch? No…I think it was Mike…I called the person listed on the sheet…that I was told to call…he said to come in today. I believe he even mentioned you by name?”

Well, as it turns out, Mike’s not real into letting Kate know when he schedules these things. Whateves.

Kate takes me around and is actually quite nice, pretty funny and very helpful. This is more of what I was expecting from a scheduled appointment. After 30 minutes or so of guidance, Kate informs me to just have it, and assures me I will develop my own style of handling everything. Likely story.

So I look around…what to do? I go back to the cats…there’s some puke…I clean it up. There’s a food bowl that tipped over onto the floor. I clean that up too. I take a minute to talk to each cage. What now…? I walk back out…I look at the dogs. Crap. Literally. There is poop in at least 30% of the kennels. I know this should be addressed, but I’m not really sure how. So, I walk back there, and the first dog at the door lunges at his cage door and starts barking like crazy. Then all the others dogs are like “Ruh? Rut-ro! PERSON!”

I went to a Third Eye Blind concert in high school, after which, I couldn’t hear right for three days. This was louder than that.

It was SO freakin’ weird! I immediately knew what it felt like to break into someone’s house and have a dog go crazy on your ass. I felt like an intruder who ran into guard dogs. I had to psyche myself up “it’s okay. You’re supposed to be here! Scoop poop! You can do it!”

I’ve never had a dog (thanks for that, Mom and Dad). I don’t know how to handle them.

And then it hit me. I was actually afraid of these dogs! Holy crap! I have never been afraid of any animal with more than zero and less than eight legs in my life! NEVER. I have stood in front of tiger cages and thought “gah! If only they would let me in! I want to go in and squeeze that tiger!!!” (This is probably not healthy.)

How in the world was I going to get in there and clean that poop? Every one of these dogs was nose to nose with me while they were lunging and barking at their kennel doors.

Hmmm…every one but one little, teensy pug. I can handle that one. I went in the kennel, stepped over the little bed thing (why is that thing smack in front of the door, anyway?) and closed the door behind me. It dawned on me, “Will I be able to open this from the inside if I latch it?” I wasn’t sure, and I couldn’t think clearly enough to be sure, so I didn’t latch it. I scooped the poop, and before I could turn around, the dog was out of the kennel.

I put the poop down, and tried to get the dog, but I didn’t want to lunge at him (that’s scary – ask me about it), and the dog did not want to be got. I miss him once. I see a leash! Score! I pick up the leash, but, wait…huh? All the leashes have a metal half-circle loop. All the collars have the same metal half-circle loop…how the crap do you attach these two things to each other???

Forget the leash. I get to the dog, he’s so scared, he pees on the floor (which I remembered the next morning, as I was going back over everything in my head, that I never cleaned that up…sorry) – I am trying to be gentle. I pet him and speak nicely to him, but he can’t hear me over those maniac dogs. I gently take his collar and I get him back in his kennel, and get the hell out of that room.

I go back to the cats and basically hide. What if someone wants to see one of those dogs??? I can’t go back in there!

It was horrible. Looking back…I think every single one of those dogs was just so desperate for attention that they were begging, the only way they knew how, for me to pick them. But it scared the crap out of me.

Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I was a waste of space staring at the cats, and I was afraid of the dogs. I left. I felt horrible. I STILL feel horrible.

I had planned to go every Tuesday after work. I knew I was really going to have to psych myself up to go back, but this past Tuesday, as I was getting ready to leave I thought “eeeh – I’m running late…I don’t have time to grab a change of old clothes.” And as I was in a meeting that ran past 5:00, I looked at the clock and thought “well, I guess I won’t make it to the shelter.” Who was I kidding? I wouldn’t have gone if Jaclyn had been like “Hey – why don’t you just leave at 3:00.”

It’s not the animal shelter. I know that. It’s me. There are volunteers that go in there all the time, who I’m sure didn’t have any more of an orientation than I did, and they do fine. It’s always taken me a little while to adjust to new situations, and I have tried to work on that, but I don’t know if I can talk myself into going back.

I originally started this post hoping you would all leave really positive comments and make me go back, but I realize now, after all I have said, I couldn’t possibly go back there. What if someone there read this? They wouldn’t let me in the front door. So I guess I solved my own damn problem. No more shelter.

And Christopher: you’re welcome. I’m 98% sure I have been officially blacklisted from animal adoptions everywhere. Certainly nobody, after reading this post, would ever adopt an animal to me. You got your wish. No more pets. Thank God we got Buster before people found out.