Friday, October 1, 2010

Prison Break

Cinderella chills in the grass.
Hanging with my new pals, Cinderella and Uncle Charlie, proved to be both tiring and gratifying, during a crisp weekday morning. My temporary four-legged friends are animals that I wish I could have, but unfortunately, don't have enough time for. Fortunately, there are volunteer opportunities that allow me to hang with the pooches on a short-term basis.

Before work Wednesday morning, I stopped off at the Oakland County Adoption Center to see what I could help with. When I opened the doors, chaos and a cacophony greeted me. Dogs on leashes were going out and coming in, people were crowding a reception area, and the noise is too jarring to recreate.

This was a little different than what I expected.

After getting a brief orientation and a leash, I got Cinderella, a reddish fawn colored dog of some mixed breed. She was beyond eager to get outside for some playtime. We walked around for a while on the grass near the building, and some defunct looking detention center. I decided to take her to a fairly large-sized fenced in park, and threw some tennis balls for her to fetch. Someone should have taught Cinderella the rules, because I spent most of my time retrieving the ball instead of having them dropped at my feet. Since Cinderella wasn't interested in games, I just ran next to her and gave lots of rubs and "good girls" in my animal voice. You know the voice, thick, syrupy -- the one that's used on babies and drives people nuts.

After about a half-hour, I decided I should give another dog a chance at some freedom. I met another volunteer, Sue, who said she usually walks the dogs for fifteen minutes so that they all get a chance for some fresh air. I figured I made Cinderella's day.

While I enjoy walking the dogs, there does seem to be some disorganization. There is no clipboard or sheet showing which dogs have been walked. So, I asked Sue if she knew what dog I should take, and she suggested Uncle Charlie. This dog is big, black and perhaps a husky, lab mix. At twelve years old, he was much mellower than Cinderella, but proved to be a fun companion.

After another half-hour, I brought him back in. I'm not going to lie, the cages make me sad. Talk about sterile -- there are no blankets or toys in the cages. Instead, the cages are made up of a thick wire bottom so that when the animal goes to the bathroom, a mop can be used to clean up without ever having to open the door. But I do realize the restraints that Oakland County has and what it can provide.

Even more depressing, cats were everywhere in cages, lining the walls. I was told there were more than three hundred, and that some would be euthanized if they couldn't be adopted out. I know some people will rant and rave that I went did not go to a specific "no kill" shelter. But no-kill shelters have a limit on what they take, and so does the county. So, if you know anyone wants a kitten or cat, please stop on by. There were cats of all ages, sizes and colors.

Volunteers are always welcome to walk dogs or pet and comb the cats after submitting a volunteer form. I will surely go back again.

To check it out, visit Oakland County Adoption Center.
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