Initial behavior does not mean bad dog

Published 2:01 pm Sunday, June 12, 2016

By Carey Sharp

Mower County Humane Society

Initial perspective does not always indicate the truth.

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MCHS volunteers witness this all the time when visitors enter the shelter. Many people comment that the dogs are “crazy” or “aggressive.” Some people actually chastise them, calling them “bad dogs,” while ordering them to sit and be quiet. Not an easy thing to accomplish in a kennel area full of excited dogs vying for attention.

It is true that many dogs don’t always exhibit their best behavior when faced with unfamiliar people staring at them. Some jump with excitement or spin and bark. Some drool heavily. Others shut down, turning their backs on people. These behaviors do not mean that they’re bad or damaged in any way. They are just coping in the best way possible with the hand that life has dealt to them.

It’s not an easy life. Being cooped up for long periods of time would be enough to drive any living creature bananas. The dog that is barking and lunging? When taken out of his kennel, he’s playful and a goofy oaf.

The dog that hides in the back of her kennel, refusing to make eye contact? Once she’s out of the shelter environment, she just wants to crawl into a lap and be loved. Many incredible dogs are overlooked for adoption based solely upon a person’s initial perception of them.

This is why the volunteers at the MCHS are so important. They spend countless hours getting to know the animals in their care and are completely devoted to them. They can explain the animals’ behaviors and discuss their true personalities and temperaments. They are knowledgeable and completely honest about them.

Volunteers are happy to answer questions, especially if it might change someone’s perception of a particular animal. One simple conversation can frequently lead to a successful adoption.

The volunteer base at the MCHS is responsible for a wide variety of tasks. Volunteers scrub kennels and cages every day. There are always dishes to be washed and huge amounts of laundry to be done. They also take care of building maintenance and the shelter grounds.

The work of a shelter volunteer is hard. It is done every day, in every season, and in every type of weather, by an incredible group of people who do not collect a paycheck. They only want to make a difference in the lives of the animals in their care.

The MCHS recently had a successful rummage sale. Many thanks to all of the volunteers who helped to organize and run the event and to the Mueller family for hosting it at their home. The sale raised $2,700, all of which will benefit the animals at the shelter!

Thank you for donations received in memory of “Bonnie” Schaefer, “Sassy Jo” Enos, Bob Dunn, “Bernie” Ryberg, Stanley Fink and Eddie, Dean Greibok, Duane Patten, Terry Garness, “Jake” Daniel, Jeanette K. Ellis, Georgia Ann Koenig Larkin, Robert and Donna Gerlach, and Paul Masse.