Shelter Dogs

We kept our dog walks to once a month to start. We had to ask people to donate harnesses and leads, but often they turned up with toys, dog clothes and blankets, kitty litter and anything else they thought KAPS might need.

In general my Saturdays at KAPS were without Luna. She was happy enough in the cat shelter but she hated the dog shelter. Every time we got to the door she started shaking and didn’t stop until we left. Even going for walks with the other dogs, she found overwhelming, she trotted along with the rest of them but was unnerved by the hyperactive behaviour and lack of manners.

I would go every other Saturday, once a month for a dog walk, and the other was my own quiet time with the dogs. Sometimes I took a big dog out for a walk, other times I groomed the smaller dogs. The cuter the dog looked the higher the possibility it would get adopted. Many of our dogs were rescued from the street and they lived in a cage. I brushed them, bathed them and sometimes had to trim their hair.

Over the years I had several extreme cases. The first was a Shih Tzu, although you wouldn’t know under all the hair. Several of the companion breeds have hair, rather than fur. This just keeps on growing and doesn’t really drop out like fur does. These breeds have a tendency to fair less well on the street, often the hair starts to get long and pick up dirt, before long they are wearing a carpet.

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As the hair starts to matt it twists and gets tighter, often pulling the skin underneath. In extreme cases the hair on the legs will matt together making it difficult for the dog to move. Removing the hair is a careful and slow process. The dogs were very much awake and often in considerable pain and discomfort.

This particular Shih Tzu was one of these cases. I started with some scissors, cutting back some of the more obvious connections on the carpet to free up the undergrowth. Once I had cut a way in I got out the electric razor. Some dogs were afraid of the noise and I had to continue on with scissors which can be dangerous when the hair is tight and is a much slower job.

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The Shih Tzu had obviously been to the hairdresser before, she sat quietly, clearly understanding what was going on. I managed to get most of the hair on her back off and started on her legs, leaving her face to last. The hair around her hip joint had matted with the hair on her leg, making it difficult for her to walk without pain and impossible to stretch out.

Once I removed all the hair I cleared off the table and put her down on a blanket. She stretched out on her tummy, her back legs out flat behind her, and fell fast asleep. I covered her up and sat watching her snooze. The most rewarding feeling in the world.

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On returning home I took all of my clothes off at the front door, put them all straight into the washing machine and got straight into the shower. My fear was always that I would spread something to Luna so this became my routine after every visit. Afterwards Luna and I would go off for a long walk.

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