There’s a volunteer who has been coming to the Carson shelter for 20 years. She picks out dogs that need baths, grooms them and makes them pretty so they might be more attractive to the public. You ought to see the dogs in her care. It’s as if God herself is fluffing up the pooch and blessing the animal with her smooth hands. Another volunteer pulls cats out of the cages for people to hold. He’s in school and gets dropped off and picked up by his parent. Another cleans kennels like me. He had to take a break for a while after he was accidentally shot in the leg during a gang shootout walking down the street (hey, this is LA), but he made a limping visit to say hello to the animals while he was healing. Another volunteer picks out dogs that appear adoptable and moves them to kennels closer to the front gate because most of the public doesn’t venture too far inside the shelter, sticking close to the security of the front gate. Other volunteers drop milk bones to the dogs through the bars of the cage and others take them for walks. A mother and daughter volunteer team teaches dogs to sit in the back play area.
You do what can, when you can. If you don't think God herself would be down with that, then you don't know Her like I do.
Besides cleaning kennels to help the staff out, I liked to hose them down because if the water runoff turns bloody-river, then I’ll check the dog for a flea infestation. Fleas are a force in LA since the winters don’t get cold enough to kill off the flea populations in the ground. When I saw that first dog in a state of shock from being eaten alive by fleas, and the relief she experienced from a medicated bath and subsequent skin drops to keep the fleas away, well, I knew I had done my duty for the day. No amount of merchandise could compete with the joy that’s produced from using our opposable thumbs to do Her work.
My beautiful Uncle Joe, who often plays devil’s advocate with me, and often wins whatever argument we have, says, “What about the fleas, Eddie?? You’re killing them! Don’t they count??”
I don’t have an answer for that, other than to laugh hysterically. So maybe the dog spirits will give me a pass in the next life while the flea spirits will chase me around the universe like piranhas after a swimmer.