Saturday, February 03, 2007

Pit Bull Hall...One volunteer's experience

BAD RAP is so fortunate to have the most dedicated group of volunteers at Pit Bull Hall. Their weekly visits are so important for all the dogs and we couldn't thank them enough. Here is one volunteer's take on her volunteer experience at Pit Bull Hall. Thanks, Katie for sharing this with us. And sharing your time with the dogs.

Volunteering at Pit Bull Hall is one of the most gratifying experiences I have had in my entire life. Not only do you get to work with incredibly adorable pit bulls but you also learn so much about the breed in the most hands-on way possible. Each dog has its own story prior to arriving at the Hall. Some were treated unkindly and just need a lot of love and attention. Others need stronger guidance in order to truly be their best. They are each unique and all carry different characteristics that the breed has to offer. You learn really quickly which dog may challenge you and which dog you will happily challenge.

My favorite part of working with the doggies is watching them grow and learn. I visit weekly and I swear they are more socialized and responsive each time I visit. Sara is the official Pit Bull Hall trainer. Each volunteer is thus a teacher to the dogs under her instruction and guidance. Whenever I have questions or concerns about a particular situation or dog, there is an incredible support network waiting for me, ready and willing to answer any question I may have.

Not everything at the Hall is about structured training however. Trust me, there is a lot of room for cuddling, snuggling and down time which the dogs need and appreciate too. In fact, there is a couch specifically devoted to spending down time with the pups. Sometimes I bring a book or a magazine and cuddle with someone on that couch. Gotta love snuggle-bull pitties! The dogs need attention, lots of exercise, and basic training and guidance from you. You may have time for all three activities or just one. Luckily, volunteering is a lot of fun! Even though there are a lot of rules to get to know (who can play with who, who gets treats, what dogs know what commands), you still get to make up your own plan for the day. One time I dressed up Chickie Sue in Christmas clothes and had a photo shoot! Some dogs are allowed ‘play-dates’ with other dogs, which is a great way to socialize them (and also get them really tired!!!). If you get attached to a particular dog you are allowed to take them home for a night or two in order to spend extra time with them. It’s a great way to get to know them even better (And you get to have a super cute pit bull in your home!).

I get attached to each dog that comes through the Hall and I know I am not alone! We all get attached to them. Every time a dog leaves I miss them a lot, but I am also SO HAPPY for their new chapter in life, a forever home! The good news is that when the dogs do find their forever homes you still get to see them and hear about them. BAD RAP does a great job of posting bulletins about where the dog is going and who their new people are. If you have the time you can always drop by Pit Bull Education classes on Saturday morning’s where each recent Pit Bull Hall graduate is required to attend. Just last week I saw Pema (once named Darla Star), Choco (Sputnik), Chickie Sue, Choncho (Firkin), Gulliver, Sadie and Jolee in class. What a treat to see some old faces! It is also great to see them behaving so nicely when you know they weren't always so well mannered when they first came in. ;-)

I have a crazy busy schedule but I always manage to find time for a trip to Pit Bull Hall because it is so worth it. The dogs appreciate it so much. Nothing cheers me up more than the smiling pit bull faces that greet me every Wednesday between 2pm and 4pm. Really!

Here are some of my favorite dogs from the Hall! Beanie and Firki have been adopted, but Chickie Sue (all dressed up for Christmas) is still looking for her forever home. - Katie, BAD RAP Volunteer and Pit Bull Hall Team Member

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