Sunday, January 24, 2010

Life Learning

A couple of months ago when I made the final heartfelt decision to unschool Summer I also decided that since we would not be following a structured curriculum anymore that we would be more involved in community and outdoor activities.

Volunteering in worthy causes was just one of the extracurriculars that I decided to incorporate into our new living style. I had a few causes in of them being park cleanups. After mulling it over in my mind, I decided park restoration and clean up would be something I would benefit more from.

I regrouped my thoughts and began to focus on what Summer would get more satisfaction from. I know that she has an affection for animals so I decided to focus on that. I remembered ads I had seen a few months ago in the Manor Messenger advertising a strong need for volunteer help with the
Elgin Animal Shelter

Since the first time I ever visited Elgin, I cringe when I go there. Anybody that keeps up with my blog knows that I have no affection for Elgin, Alabama.

After careful thought, I finally decided that Austin probably had much more financial and volunteer support than little ole' podunk Elgin would ever have.

So, a couple of weeks ago Summer and I went on our first "interview" with the Elgin Animal Rescue. The first thing I noticed when we drove up was the HORRIBLE smell. The shelter is located right next to a water treatment plant so not only did you have the smell of animals and poop, along with it came the smell of raw sewage.

Luckily, Summer and I are not squeamish or we would have turned on our heels and immediately left the premises. Now I know why the coordinator of the shelter said they had a hard time keeping volunteers.

Well, today was our first volunteer day with the shelter. On our interview last week we were asked if we had a fear of rats. Of course our answer was NO, as long as they are not in our house we are o.k with them. :-)

Today I found out why she asked us about the rats. As Summer and I were learning the ropes and helping out with the "dog blanket laundry" Summer pointed out that she saw a rat. When I looked up I saw not only one rat but HUNDREDS of rats....not mice, but RATS.

The place is like a zoo more than a shelter. The rats are running around everywhere and the dogs are going crazy barking at them.

After we took the dogs one by one out of their cages to their outside fences the rats surrounded their inside cages to eat the dog food that had spilled out of their bowls onto the floor. There were literally hundreds of rats running around. All around the baseboards the rafters....EVERYWHERE!!! I was amazed and unbelievably not scared. I guess my experience with rats in our house in Alabama had made both Summer and I immune to the rat invasion. I do have to say if it had been hundreds of cockroaches I would have had to flee!

Anyway, just in the couple of hours we were there we got a feel for the animals. There were several cats that we held and loved on. Precious kitties. The dogs were well....being dogs. Most of them were big and strong and a couple were scared and unfriendly.

The experience was bittersweet. It was nice to be able to give an animal some temporary love, but it was also sad to think that these animals have been thrown away like an old tattered rug.

This should not surprise me. Some humans give no regard to animals just as they give no regard to the human species. Our society is filled with unloved and uncared for humans also.

I once had someone tell me that you can tell the character of a person in the way that he treats animals. I can see that statement to be true in some folks...not so much in others. I know a couple of people that treat their animals better than they do their own kids...that's not very good character either.

I was impressed with Summer's work ethic. She worked the whole time we were there with no whining or complaining. She was in her comfort zone in that stinky shelter.

In the one day we were at the shelter I have chosen one particular dog and one particular cat that I would bring home to love....that is, if I ever wanted anything else to take care of....

On the way home Summer and I treated ourselves to DQ. Later on in the evening I let Summer make her a personal pizza. My friend Angela had inspired me to make our own pizza so I got the dough recipe from her. Here is the finished pizza made personally for and by Summer....

A beautiful sunset to end a beautiful day..

1 comment:

  1. I bet your hearts were filled after caring for all those critters...weird about the rats!

    Your discription reminds me alot of ARF - Animal Rescue Foundation located on Holcomb Ave...not a great location, nor environment...but tons of homeless dogs and cats given the best care possible under the circumstances.