Sunday, November 07, 2010

inside the barn

The little barn in the Oakland hills that you helped us build has been humming with activity, and every day we invent better ways use the space to benefit its guests. Right now, dogs from two different cruelty cases fill the kennels and our busiest hours of the day.

Our work involves sussing out new dogs and organizing dog socials and training sessions so we can confidently match them with the right foster home or adopter. Adoption candidate families find their way up here too, to study the dogs they might be adopting and watch them romp goofy like real dogs outside of the rules of Pit Ed class.

Never satisfied, of course we're already talking about ways to expand out one of the walls to include a washer/dryer and maybe-just-maybe one more kennel. Doggy doors to outdoor runs are on the drawing board, too.

We hosted our first big tour at the barn last week and it was a rousing success. You'll see photos from the tour in the slideshow. 2011 is the year we get back to doing Pit Ed Camps, so we're excited about that. We're also open to holding tours or little day camps for local schools and clubs, so if you have a desire, please let us know what you're thinking and we'll try to accommodate your lesson plans or field trip goals. The dogs would be so very pleased to see you.

Here's a little peek inside the walls:

LINK HERE for the full screen slideshow.

29 comments:

J.M. said...

Nice!
I love that shot of the dog lying in the armchair in the Kennel.
It looks so cozy and comfy in there.
If only they could all live like that.

Donna said...

Agreed J.M.

To be honest, we modeled the barn after learning what we *didn't* like about shelters. Dogs need rest after coming from rough starts. And natural light. And a sense of 'home.'

Our best hope is that this little place will springboard tired, stressed dogs to a quicker sense of normalcy before they leave for their next station in life.

Hmm .. I guess I could've explained that in the blog post .. but there you have it!

Leila said...

Can I move in? :) You all have done a fabulous job with the facility. Created a warm environment that gives them boundaries and comfort at the same time.

Kudos as always!
Leila & Quizz
Richmond VA

Anonymous said...

Absolutely gorgeous! (Can I move in?). The barn looks like a warm and cozy home, instead of a cold, concrete institution. The attention to detail is obvious and appreciated.

Yes! Larger, more kennels, outside dog runs and laundry! What a great goal for a holiday fund raising campaign. (Can I move in?).

I haven't been in school for many years, but am willing to join a class that is going on a field trip to the barn.

Nice lack of rusties, too! :)

s&b/mty

Diane said...

That is the most peaceful, beautiful, welcoming place I HAVE EVER seen! It makes me want to live there with the doggies!! :)
Diane

AlexC said...

What a beautiful space. If you weren't rescuing pitties you could be interior designers! The barn looks warm and cozy and most of all it has soul. Your talents (and heart) are infinite.

Robin said...

Very inviting and comfy. I wonder what kind of flooring that is? I love the green walls and the warmth of the wood.

Linda said...

The barn just looks flippin' awesome. Those are some lucky pups to land there. Wish I was closer to see it for myself, but I was really pleased to see one of the tours was a group of elderly folks who seemed to be enjoying the dogs! How cool is that?

You guys rock.

Donna said...

Thanks all! It feels good in there, which I hope helps all who enter transfer their warm/happy/homey vibes to the dogs. Robin, the wood flooring is 3/4 inch tongue and groove plywood with four coats of varnish. The flooring in the kennels is sealed (and colored) cement. I wish I could keep rugs in there with the dogs but they become instant pee spots or chew toys. Oh well .... I guess some things have to stay institutional.

Dianne said...

It's beautiful. Some of my favorate elements at WARL are the use of flowing water and translucent glass brick. As you go forward maybe you can incorporate some of this -- replace the wire fences so it doesn't look so much like prison. When will the Pit Ed Camps be? I'd come out to the Left Coast for one and to check up on my best friends from High School.

J.M. said...

I`m actually rethinking my ongoing House renovation now because of seeing the inside of the barn.I`d like to live in that barn also.I also love the colors you`ve chosen.That unusual looking but gorgeous pit bull Elliott has really grown and seems to be enjoying his role.That`s too cute,the picture of him with his family of pups.

Donna said...

Thx Dianne. I love our kennels though! I'm not a fan of solid walls between dogs because they tend to make the dogs feel isolated, in addition to creating a hard surface that bounces their noise. We've found that one of the better ways to socialize a dog is to expose him to other dogs in a relaxed, supported way, and the kennels serve that purpose for us. We learned this by crating so many in our home over the years around our other dogs. I love the idea of a fountain though and have been thinking about a way to incorporate one into the space (it has to be chew proof tho' since the dogs have access to everything!)

We're currently working with Best Friends to schedule several camps. Announcement coming soon!

Anonymous said...

I can't say enough how amazing I think your organization is. The barn looks like comfy country home, perfect for a pack of dogs. It makes me kind of well with happiness knowing so many dogs will experience this as the beginning of their journeys to better lives. Kudos. I hope to see it next time I'm visiting friends in the bay area.

dazigrrl said...

Beautiful...sweet...brought tears to my eyes. My dream is to be in a position where I can put all my time, effort, & money into rescuing. For now, I do what I can when I can...donate, bottle feed & find homes, rescue off the streets, whatever I happen to come across~the babies usually find me. You are doing amazing things there & I thank you, as I'm sure all the babies you help do also. Hugs...

Anonymous said...

Perfection and a fantastic boilerplate for the rest of us!! Thank you!

Pinky's Mom said...

Such an amazing space! Warm fuzzies to all who enter...
:)

Sharon said...

Donna, I love it! It's so homey and comfortable looking. I'm sure the dogs are really adapting better and faster by having such a great environment surrounding them with love.

How about painting the rugs in the kennels to add a touch of home without the pee spot and chew toy tendencies?

I've been trying to come up with an idea for a building to put my furkids in while I'm away at work. This is a wonderful way to do it. I keep them in outside kennels during the day but with winter coming on, I want them to have a comfy place to be instead of cooped up in crates all day. How many kennels do you have in your barn?

Anonymous said...

Lovely place. But to be honest... thousands of shelters and rescues across the country are struggling to help their animals and lots are shutting down because of the economic situation and you are building a palace, though nice,very unessecary. I feel for the people struggling to save animals that werent so fortunate as to receive media spotlight as you. Seems to be to one extreme or the other when the media is involved. I still love what you do and have done for animals..... but it worries me you forget where you started.

lizzie (visible_mix_tape) said...

I really hope we get to see the barn in person one day! It looks like such an amazing place for both dogs and people to feel relaxed. I also love that there's no visual borders between the dogs and that they have so much open space outside to be free and smell the whole world at once! I'm so happy for all the lucky dogs that get to spend time there.

Laurie said...

Love the barn, looks like all the wonderful babies are well taken care of. I think what you have there is a wonderful thing and what you do for these dogs is GREAT, keep up the good work.

Donna said...

@ Sharon. You're so right! The dogs are streamlining so much faster in this space, especially, with their manners with other dogs. There's less barking/whining, more rest, too. We've set it up with five kennels, although we still use crates in the barn to reinforce house training in some of the dogs. I don't know how many dogs you usually keep, but check online for kit buildings or large garden-type sheds. You can modify them to fit your needs. We shopped kit barns for this space and found it on barnpros.com. You could if you were handy buy a used barn: http://www.thebarnpages.com/
Most everything - the windows, doors, cupboards, the sink - is from salvage yards. And I'm finding kennels for cheap on craigslist and amazon.com.
Do it! You'll be so much happier.
Interesting thought about a painted rug on the concrete. I have to come up with something. Maybe a rug-like pattern painted and sealed on something that's indestructible and can be hosed off?

@ anon 11:59.

Thanks for your comments. It's not quite a palace, but absolutely necessary in our work. Honestly? Every shelter can - and IMO should - create a modest space like this to house and/or work some of its most compromised dogs. The issue isn't money as much as a compelling desire to improve quality of life for the long-term dogs. In fact, the barn mimics a trailer that we found on craigslist and moved into Oakland Animal Service's yard so we could get some of the dogs over dog/dog issues. That trailer still serves the dogs there and is a favorite place for volunteers and dogs to unwind together. To use another example, Indianapolis Animal Control converted a store room into an environment enrichment room for their dogs and found grant money and volunteers to pull it off. We're convinced that even small improvements that meet dogs' needs are affordable and within reach and can translate to more lives saved and more appropriate adoption matches.

Besides helping dogs that we wouldn't normally be able to say 'yes' to, one of the barn's functions is to serve as a living classroom for shelters and rescues that want to learn. As you might know, our education focus never stops. We've had 12 years to sort through scores of pit bulls, and it's important to us that other groups learn what we've learned in order to do help their dogs back home.

I really hope that groups are inspired by this space rather than defeated. If anyone wants/needs ideas on how to get what you need to help improve quality of life for their dogs, speak up! We're very happy to share what we've learned over the years.

The Foster Lady said...

LOL! Thanks Donna...after my trip to the barn in September, I immediately came home and starting looking at my own acre and thinking...hmmmmm. Heat costs would be much harder here in the NE though, than Oakland.

Found myself wondering what 'the neighbors thought' when carloads of people pulled up for the 'tour'? Your coup will be when they ask for an invitation to tour..that will be one of your finest moments!

Dina

Bumpers mommy said...

Donna - As always... you guys amaze me! The barn looks AMAZING! And you can tell even through pictures how relaxed those pups are! Good job! Thanks for all you do for pitters!

Sharon said...

Thanks for the info,Donna. I'm definitely going to check into it. I have five of my own & my son's dog now since they're staying with me temporarily. I currently have four outside kennels of assorted sizes & shapes. That would be the hard part, getting them all to fit in a building.

@anonymous - Locally, our humane society is volunteer home based without a permanent building. They rely almost solely on donations. Last year, I set up a FaceBook birthday wish to get $10 from 50 of my friends to celebrate my 50th birthday. I was able to raise over half of the $500, which was exciting. Kids do the same to get food, bowls, blankets, etc donated to celebrate their birthdays. It's a wonderful idea that could be used all over the country. It just takes some ingenious brainstorming to come up with creative ways to get by on less money.

Boris said...

"Luv what you've done with the place"

thinking out loud:
- does not having doggie-doors to outside runs improve the 'house breaking' training.
- while not chew proof, inter-locking foam pads for standing on in kitchens or kids play areas, non-porous and hose off easy, make for a soft lay
- at least, add 'gift shop' bookshelf in the barn office for visitors, Need a barn-design polo shirt for Xmas gifts.
- thinking my poster must be up on another wall.

Barn-a-wanta-be, Boris

Donna said...

Dina - you CAN'T build a barn, because you're moving to CA, remember? lol.

Maybe a used mobile office will serve your dogs. One that you can hook up to your electric for heat in the winter. Craigslist, baby - Craigslist!

The Foster Lady said...

That's an idea! Of course, I would have to take down a couple of fence panels to get it onto the property...I've also been mulling over the revamping of the garage with an exterior door to use for my fosters....and as for CA, I am considering it...and Maine as well....talk about extremes!

Donna said...

converted garage ... even better since it's already there. do it! I want to see photos.

The Foster Lady said...

Yup, attached to the house, I called the contractor today to find out about having a door put in so that one can go in and out without having to go through the TV room. And bottom line, I want my LR back! Of course, I also think about resale value, because one of these days, I'm not gonna be in this house anymore!