By Tera Carlile, Admissions Manager
Working at the Lawrence Humane Society has been nothing like I expected.
I pictured puppies, and kitties, and petting said puppies and kitties continuously … and never stopping. In other words, catering to a giant pile of baby animals that needed to constantly be held by me. I envisioned teaching dogs and cats to high five, and talking to adopters about how lovely and thrilling each pet we have is.
Instead, I quickly learned that the job is mountains of paperwork and poop. Continuous phone calls and never ending emails. Meetings and learning.
There’s also a lot of emotion I never anticipated. Anger. Disappointment. Jubilation. Excitement. Pride. Honestly, though, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve loved (almost) every single minute within these walls.
I managed to narrow down, out of thousands of minutes, millions (rough estimate) of seconds that could hold the ultimate title of “Top Faves,” to merely five. So, in no particular order, please take a journey with me into what it means to be a part of this incredible place, The Lawrence Humane Society.
#5: The moment when I counselled the adopters who took home my first (and last) foster kitties.
I was so overcome with bittersweet grief at letting them go, I wasn’t sure if I could actually follow through with it. The wheels were turning for how to stop the madness and just take them home with me already, where they obviously belonged. I definitely needed four cats, no doubt about it. But eventually I did stop the madness, and instead enthusiastically let the wonderful adopters know how lucky they were that these incredible kitties chose them. I got to tell them about their quirks … that Boss Tom will look out for you, how even as a wee babe he’s stoic and in charge. How Colonel Mustard will follow you and talk to you, and always let you know that you’re his absolute favorite. And it felt good. And the adopters were, are, the best people for them. I haven’t heard a thing about them since, and as the Admissions Manager, this is the ultimate form of good news to me.
#4: The first time I realized we wouldn’t have to move mountains to help keep a pet with their family.
The tools and resources are often already there for our disposal, whether it’s Blue Dawn soap for a family who was battling a flea infestation on a severely limited income, counseling on crate training for a puppy, or cat food donated to us by the public for a hungry cat. Each time we get to help someone, get to help a pet be more comfortable, there’s this incredible bubble of happy that encases us. The department I’m in sometimes doesn’t have many happy moments, so these moments of triumph, propped up with a bottle of Dawn, remind us that we can make a huge difference with even the smallest item.
#3: Kiwi the Parrot, a colorful bird with a colorful vocabulary, who was relinquished to us due to a personal issue the family was having.
At the shelter, we’d rather keep people with their pets, but when it’s not possible, we definitely love sheltering parrots, too. This particular parrot could imitate any whistle rather quickly, and say some things that were not exactly safe for the workplace, causing us both great amusement and great chagrin. He also said his name in that cute way only little parrots are able to accomplish. He was a bit mean, and loved, loved, loved! roughly two total people at the shelter with an adorable fiery passion. I was not one of those two people, but I loved Kiwi anyhow, with my own brand of fiery, hands-off-because-he-nipped, passion.
#2: That time I realized fully that I was in the company of my type of people.
I remember being new and not knowing how vocal I should be about my feelings regarding declawing cats. Then, I encountered person after person who lived and breathed animal welfare who held this same belief. Declawing cats hurts them. We see more cases of declawed cats being surrendered for not using the litterbox than I ever realized happened before I worked the intake desk at a Humane Society. It hurts them, in more ways than one. Realizing there was an army of cat-paw defenders just like me out there is definitely a favorite memory of mine.
#1: Watching the Medical team feed a doggie who, due to his medical condition, needed to stand up to eat, and also receive a caloric supplement, three times a day.
The method for feeding this pup (Snoop) went something like this:
- Grab a bowl of food and hold it hip high so Snoop had to stand up against the staff to eat the food.
- When the food was gone, grab some caloric supplement and gently, slowly, squeeze it out so Snoop, still using staff as a brace, could lick it out of the tube for 10 minutes.
Over a hundred 15-minute feeding times, with nails digging into the feeder’s stomach, is what it took to get Snoop well enough for the medical journey he needed to go on to simply be able to eat normally. Snoop got fatter and better, because our team is constantly committed to every animal that walks in, limps in, runs in, is carried in.
Working here is a never ending parade of compassion that sometimes feels too heavy, but is always necessary, because I’ve been shown time and time again that everything we do is to make the lives of animals, in our care or not, better. So here are five, merely five, of my favorite moments. Most are fun, some are only fun after the moment is over and done. And every day turns into my favorite day, because where else would I ever get to see exactly how much love the world can hold — for people, for pets we meet in passing, for animals who are only ours for a moment — than within these walls?
Tera Carlile is the Admissions Manager for the Lawrence Humane Society.