Playgroups! | Chandra

PBSOC does so many terrific things for the dogs at Bradshaw, but I believe that running playgroups is one of the very most important. The dogs get out of their kennels, get to run and romp, and, most importantly, get to socialize with other dogs. They learn from each other and have a great time too. It's so heartwarming to walk the kennels after the dogs finish up with their playtime and see so many of them curled up and relaxed on their beds, happy, both mentally and physically.

Delyse and the volunteers have done a great job taking videos of playgroups and lots of our dogs now have snippets of them playing on their webpages, which has to make a huge difference to potential adopters. Seeing the dogs so incredibly joyous is amazing.

Now, we have another way to show off playgroups...Ashley King's gorgeous photos. Ashley just started volunteering with PBSOC and she's walking dogs and taking outdoor photos. It's such a welcome addition to the dogs' pages and a great complement to Shannon's studio shots.

Here's a little peek at some of the photos Ashley shot this week at playgroups. Enjoy!

Cheeky (Adopted!) & Kristina
Jeeves & Champagne
Lacey & Bronco (Adopted!)
Xina & Lexi
Tangerine & Edger

For more on Ashley, please do visit her photography website, 2 Girls 20 Cameras.

Welcome to the team, Ashley! We're all so glad to have you on board.




How To Handle the Goodbyes? | Chandra

(This post addresses euthanasia...please do skip it if you need to. Believe me, I understand.)

A few weeks ago I started receiving the morning emails that list all of the animals that came into the shelter the day before, along with the outcomes from the day. Every day there are feral cats and stray dogs and typically a raccoon or a possum. There have been horses and goats and yesterday there was even a whole bunch of rats listed. Overwhelmingly the dogs are pit bull or chihuahua mixes picked up on the street as strays. There are also some who get brought into the shelter and surrendered by people who find them, along with a few owner surrenders and confiscates.

The outcomes start out at the top of the email with adoptions and fosters and end with the animals who were euthanized that day, and why. It's either medical or behavioral. Mostly behavioral.

Bradshaw recently changed their method of evaluating dogs and the euth numbers have gone way up. Most people, including volunteers, don't see it because the dogs never make it to the adoption floor. Delyse sees it and does everything in her power to fight for the dogs and manages to make some heroic saves, like Stanley last week. He was going to be euthanized for being too shy, Delyse swooped in, volunteers gave him a couple of days of lots of attention and treats, and Bam, he was adopted the first day that he was available. Those are the saves that have us all cheering.

Cherise & Stanley
I know there are dogs that legitimately need to be euthanized for the safety of our community, or because they are too sick for us to be able to help them. I also know that everyone is doing the best they can, given their own outlooks they bring to the situation, and the sheer number of animals the shelter handles. I may not agree with the way things are being done, but I know there are no easy answers either.

Whatever the reasons, or the politics, or the rights and the wrongs of it all, my heart hurts.

I've been saving the photos of each of the dogs who are euthanized, while not quite sure what I'm saving them for. Somehow I just want to honor them, to know that they aren't just disposable and forgotten. It's the same reason Laura doesn't erase dogs' webpages on PBSOC's site when the dogs are put to sleep; she puts RIP after their names and makes the page private instead because she just cannot hit the delete key.

I truly believe that it is important to honor these dogs, but after grappling with it for several weeks, and feeling myself tearing up over and over thinking about them, I've made the decision that it is more important for me to spend my energy doing good. Compassion fatigue is a real thing, and although I'm a relative newbie at volunteering, I do not want to burn out and not be able to be of use. I want to continue to be able to go to Bradshaw with a smile on my face and do what I can do and somehow have that be enough.

It never will be, of course. But if each of us just does something for the causes that speak to our hearts, it could add up to so very, very much. A few hours a week is all it takes. It doesn't have to be dogs, but something.

Volunteering has added so much to my life. It's given me a purpose and filled up my heart in a way I didn't expect when I emailed PBSOC asking if there might be a place for us. I so much enjoy the blocky headed, grinning dogs and all the people in PBSOC and even the hours I spend on my computer editing and helping out. It's all for good. And I need to find a way to keep going in the face of the sadness.

So, to all of the beautiful, beautiful dogs who haven't made it out, and who won't in the future, I honor you, but I'm not going to save your photos anymore. I wish your souls to fly free and I hope that you somehow felt our love. But, ultimately, for the good of all of the others who desperately need us to show up each day with an open heart, I have to let you go, and trust that it will get better.

This collage shows some of the pit bull type dogs who haven't made it out of Bradshaw this year, and I'm going to let it stand in for the others who will follow. Somehow, it will have to be enough.

Godspeed, sweet souls.




Videos Galore | Chandra

I'm a little worn out from editing but awfully happy to have video on all of our new PBSOC dogs. Here's a little peek at the new faces on the roster...all are up for adoption at the Bradshaw Shelter, along with so many others. But hey, one at a time! My plan is to do video each week on the new dogs and eventually everyone will have something. With Shannon's photos, our great bios, playgroup videos and volunteer selfies and videos, the dogs will have well rounded webpages that will help adopters get to know them so much better. I figure it's great for the volunteers too; the better we know the dogs, the better we can help place them with the perfect family.








I also got some cute footage on a few of our longer term dogs who really need a boost.




So excited that Stanley went home on the very first day he was available (thank you Delyse!) and Jenny was adopted this week too. Two very big wins for PBSOC.

And, for a funny story, the photo room looked like a complete crime scene this week after Marla sprayed it with little blood spots from her happy tail. Blood spatter EVERYWHERE, including all of Shannon's face. It was seriously a scene from Dexter...we just needed the plastic sheeting. I laughed so hard I snorted, several times. Marla didn't seem to mind any of it, she just kept wagging that tail!

Also, if anyone has suggestions for good upbeat songs for the videos, please leave them in comments. I could use some fresh ideas!




Makeovers! | Chandra

We all love makeovers. Add dogs to the equation, and who could resist?

Every week, I am lucky enough to see Shannon absolutely transform the PBSOC dogs when she takes their photos. Since I've started putting up the PBSOC webpages as soon as dogs show up on Bradshaw's site, I am seeing the intake photos and then, thankfully, replacing them on Sunday with Shannon's pics. The before and afters are jaw dropping.

Wanna see a few from Sunday?

Daisy - Adopted!


Sam - Adopted!

Samantha - Adopted!

Sir Wrinkls - To Rescue, with his buddy Clay!



Thea - Adopted!

It's pretty amazing. I'm not sure why the intake photos are so horrible, but I look at those pictures and just see pitiful. Not the happy, wonderful dogs we all know.

So, today, thank you Shannon. And thank you to the volunteers who take photos and videos while walking dogs; those make a huge difference too.

Speaking of videos, here's the link to the ones I made this week, if you'd like to check them out (links are to the PBSOC pages unless they've been adopted, then you'll go to YouTube.)

Daisy, Kona, Sam, Smurfette, Sir Wrinkls, Xina, Joy, Thea, and Jane.

Plus, 24 dogs adopted and rescued this week, including long timer and volunteer fave Smurfette.

Great work, PBSOCers!




Videos, Videos, Videos! | Chandra

This Sunday I tried something new. Instead of taking one dog out of the shelter, I roamed around and did videos of lots of different dogs, hoping to make a compilation of adoptable dogs. After trying to film in playgroups (way too muddy and I'm not good enough with the camera to catch the zoomies), I found the PBSOC dog walkers and got some footage that way. And, of course, I ended up back in the photo room with Shannon, where I always love to hang out.

Two of the dogs I filmed were lucky enough to get picked up by their owners the same day, which left me with seven to edit. Too many hours later, given that I'm still pretty slow with iMovie, here's what I ended up with. (I still need to edit the compilation!) I'm hopeful that these "mini" videos will help the dogs and might even be better in our short-attention-span world.

Let me know what you think, and, of course, enjoy!

First up, Mr. Chill, Jeremy. He was the absolute best dog at his photoshoot, letting us dress him up and sitting very patiently for the camera. I was lucky enough to work with him again later in the day when Erin from Tug Dogs spent time with the PBSOC volunteers teaching us how to better work with the shelter dogs. He was a champ. Although he clearly hadn't spent much time on a leash, by the end of the session, Jeremy had figured out that when I changed directions, he should follow, not dig in his heels and stop. He also spent some happy time sitting on my lap getting a massage. Smart boy! And I learned, thanks to Erin, some good tricks to motivate a dog who isn't interested in treats. Win, win. (Update, Adopted!)

Next is Dorito. You can see by her one sticking-up-like-a-corn chip-ear where she gets her name! This girl looks a little stout, but she surprised me by being a wonderful jogging partner.

Monie is a love. And how cute is she in her "Adopt Me" bandana?

Buggy wins the award for cutest dog getting a belly rub ever. (Update, adopted!)

Josey will capture your heart with her sunshiney spirit. Costume changes are no problem for this roll-with-the-punches girl.

Shannon named Gracie after Grace Kelly, because she's such an elegant and graceful girl.

And lastly, with a super quick appearance and a mega watt smile, Marla. This girl is absolutely gorgeous with her grey brindle coat.

Lots of videos for a days' work. Fingers crossed that they help.

And, if for some reason you cannot see the videos, here are the YouTube links: Jeremy, Dorito, Monie, Buggy, Josey, Gracie, Marla.




Lately, and Justin | Chandra

It's been pretty tough at Bradshaw lately. So very many dogs, management/policy issues that are causing more pit bull type dogs to be euthanized, and saying some very difficult goodbyes to dogs that don't deserve to go. Everyone is feeling pretty battered and there's lots of talk of what we all would do if only we'd won that big Powerball jackpot.

Since none of us did win, we just have to keep on keeping on, doing the best we can each day. We have to remember that what we do helps the dogs, even the ones who don't make it out. At the very least they are loved before they go.

On the upside, there have been nice full groups of new volunteers being trained and new energy and enthusiasm and, frankly, bodies, are all very good things. There was a terrific long-lead training with Ann King that will help all the dogs learn to chill and bring their adrenaline levels down. There was a training with Tug Dogs to teach everyone to work with some of the more challenging dogs at the shelter. Apollo, Banjo, Bandit, Beatrix, Boo, Dopey, Jazmyne, Jo, Jose, Lulu, Mickey, Piper and Tango got adopted this week. And then, of course, there are the dogs themselves. The spunky, joyful, live-in-the moment creatures who lure us to Bradshaw even when we'd all just as soon drink a beer, or three, and never return.

Dogs like Justin. We took this boy to the river today, and, once again, he's a dog we'd take home ourselves if we could. He looks like Aussie's brother, he's a real charmer, and did I mention the kisses? Oh, yes, he's a lover, this one.

(If you cannot see the video below, view it HERE.)

Justin walks beautifully on leash, knows sit, is eager to please his humans and is uber affectionate. He loved the car ride and adores playing with polite female dogs. He has a super soft mouth when he takes treats, is attentive and responsive, and would be a true pleasure to teach things to. If you want a boy who just wants to be your very best friend, Justin is the one. Dogs like Justin are the reason we all volunteer. 

The only thing I know to do when things get especially difficult is to go back to the source. Back to these blocky, squishy, huge grinned faces, to the souls who live to love. Back to the dogs. Back to our hearts.

Update: Justin has been adopted!




One Dog at a Time | Chandra

Last week, I wrote a post about the dogs who haven't made it out of Bradshaw and I know that it hit so many of you, hard. It is important to acknowledge our losses, but it is even more crucial to celebrate our successes. What we focus on grows.

All of us PBSOC volunteers fall in love with certain dogs. Each day a few more make their way into our hearts. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to see all of the new dogs each week that come into the shelter and it's easy to wonder if it's even possible to find them all homes.

Well, here's a little inspiration for you. This collage features just SOME of the dogs who have been adopted or rescued during the last four months of 2015. Did you catch that? FOUR MONTHS!  I only included dogs who had glamour shots so it doesn't even count the many, many dogs who went home before they had a chance to get a fancy picture. And even of the dogs with great photos, I can guarantee that this isn't everybody. And it also doesn't include the many dogs who are in foster homes right now, safe and happy.

If that doesn't make you think that we're doing some good, I don't think anything will. Look at all those beautiful faces, all of them safe and on to better lives.

The dog walks, the playgroups, the photos, the bios, the videos, the rescue networking, the fostering, the adoption events, the adoption counseling, the social media posts, the laughter, the emails, the hand wringing and the tears. They all lead to this.

One dog at a time. One volunteer at a time.

So, in the spirit of one, here's Apollo. We took him out on a field trip to the park today and made him a video. We petted him and snuggled in the back seat and fed him chicken. We laughed as he chewed up a tennis ball while nestled in a pile of leaves and let him sniff and explore all he wanted. We took him back to the shelter and put him in his kennel and then I edited. And now, we share.

Apollo, we wish you the very, very best. You are a fantastically good boy, with a silky gorgeous coat and a snuggly soft side. You deserve your forever family and we hope they will find you very soon.

(If you cannot see the video below, please view it HERE.)

So PBSOC folks, a big thank you for all that you do. One dog at a time, we're making a difference.

And if you aren't yet volunteering, we'd love to have you on board. You can find lots of info HERE.

Happy New Year!!



Update: Apollo was adopted!