i sing to the dogs…

Little yorkie sitting with us in the office.
Little yorkie sitting with us in the office.

I work part-time at the base kennel at Lajes Field.  Granted, it isn’t a glamorous job.  But I love it.  I genuinely do.  It provides a high level of satisfaction and low-level of stress. Of course, my long-term career goals don’t include a career in animal care.  However, it’s great for my current circumstances.

Lajes Field is a very small air base with limited employment opportunities for American civilians; under employment is common.  Working off base isn’t a viable option due my non- ability to fluently speak Portuguese.  My job provides an opportunity to get out of the house and meet other humans.  It allows me to play with all sorts of adorable animals, and earn a little extra income as I continue to pursue my artistic career.

I work with two lovely women who share my love for animals.  Truly caring about the well-being of animals is an unspoken requirement for our job.  In theory, the animals just need food, and humans to keep the facility clean.  However, in reality, to do our job well requires a genuine love for furry little creatures of awesome.

Best part-time job ever. (photo/copyright: Kate Lawler 2012)
I play with all the puppy sisters! Sadie, Lua, and my little Doctora are all from the same litter.  Best part-time job ever. (photo/copyright: Kate Lawler 2012)

I don’t like taking my dog to a kennel, no one should like leaving their pets.  However, if you have to leave your pet in the care of a kennel, I honestly think we’re one of the best places to do so.  To my surprise, the barking dies down fairly quickly after the excitement of any visitor ceases, and it’s a fairly mellow but very delightful place to work.  Our facility is small, which means we learn (and remember) the names and idiosyncrasies of almost every pet that stays with us.  We know who is friendly, shy, outgoing, or aggressive.  We know who likes to play ball, who likes to run around weird, and who prefers to curl up on a lap and simply get loves.

A tired Toni girl.
A tired Toni girl, she likes to run around weird. 

To be honest, a kennel (at least ours) isn’t a scary a place for animals.  Cats do tend to be more reserved than dogs.  On rare occasions, we have an animal we fail to win over—despite our bribes of treaties, slow movements, calm voice, and gentle petting.  However, most come around.  In fact, some dogs are happy to be here—of course, they don’t want to leave their families, but they aren’t phased by the new environment.  They love the new smells of other dogs, new people to give them love, they settle in fine and are impressively content.  Others come in nervous and frightened, they’ve never been around other dogs, they’re naturally shy, or perhaps they are rescue dogs who are still skittish.

Me holding Kate's little Friday cat (photo/copyright: Kate Lawler 2011)
Me holding Kate’s little Friday cat (photo/copyright: Kate Lawler 2011)

We know we can’t take the place of a loving home, with a family, soft beds, and warm sofas.  However, we can do our best to make our kennel environment as loving, safe, fun, and all-around pleasant for each pet as possible.  We provide soft bedding, blankets, toys, and treats. When a dog or cat is anxious, we’re patient–and take the time to help them get comfortable. Within a day or two, the little dog that fearfully cowered in the corner, growling at the intruding stranger—is now curled up contentedly sleeping on my manger’s lap while she works on the computer.  The cat who hissed and batted at me as I tried to clean her kennel, is now adorably rubbing against the bars waiting to chin scratches and treats. When pets come around–that is the most rewarding part of my job.

Playing ball with a delightful dog girl who says "Roo! Roo! Roo!" when she gets excited.
Playing ball with a delightful dog girl who says “Roo! Roo! Roo!” when she gets excited.

To see a dog who was terrified only two days prior, now playing ball with us and panting like a puppy, or coming up to give us happy kisses before he rolls over for belly scratches makes my job fulfilling.  Taking the time to make each animal feel safe and happy in our facility means the world to me.  We know how we would want our pets treated when we have to leave them in the care of others—and that’s the quality of service we want to provide.

On weekends I work alone.  I always sing with the radio while I clean the kennels and feed the dogs.  They seem to like it.  I think the noise of a human voice making happy sounds is calming.  I’m not a good singer, but they don’t seem to mind. So, thanks dogs, for being so nice about my singing.

happily tuckered out dogs
happily tuckered out dogs

 

12 Replies to “i sing to the dogs…”

  1. This reminds me of when I had a little dog by the name of Santiago to whom I would sing “Santiago, Santiago! You’re so cute and adorable!”. He would always perk up and you could tell his frowny pug face was happy to hear the music. They totally appreciate it.

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    1. “Cuddles and Love–that’s what you’re made of!” You know what it a sure fire cure for depression? PUGS! We have two at the kennel right now. I love them. They remind me of dog versions of tweedle dee and tweedle dum

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