But every once in a while, the stars align such that an adoption day at PetCo falls when I'm not traveling and am available to help. Today was one of those days, and even better, Nathan was with me, too. This was only our second time participating. Last time, someone else brought the stuff and the critters, and all we had to do was show up at PetCo and hang out, available to answer any questions. Pretty uneventful.
Well, today, the first difference was that there was no one else to haul the supplies and critters. I live not too far from PetCo, but the Humane Society is on the other side of town, so I asked for me to be the last resort for hauling stuff, not least because my car also wouldn't fit everything, but the volunteer coordinator told me I could drive the HSCO van. So this morning, Nathan and I headed out around 8:45 and got to the shelter at around 9:10. We were shown where the supplies were, and I pulled the van around and we loaded up the inanimate cargo. Then we headed back inside (we got to go into the employee-only areas like the intake and clinic areas, so that was cool) to get the small animals we were supposed to pick up--a guinea pig and two mice. Then we realized we only had "kennel cards" (sheets of paper with their names, ages, intake dates, and a brief bio) for the mice but not the guinea pig, so we went back and got them. We got on our way at around 9:25, and I was pleased to realize that we were not only going to get to PetCo on time, but actually early enough to set up before the adoption event was supposed to begin at 10:00. Yay!
But a mile or two away from the shelter, I commented to Nathan that at least these critters were quiet (we've hauled cats between PetCo and the shelter before, and they are never quiet), and I realized that I was pretty sure we were actually supposed to be taking a cat. I pulled over, checked my e-mail, and sure enough--there was an empty spot at PetCo, so we were supposed to take a cat over, and possibly a dog if they had an appropriate candidate. Shoot!
So we headed back to the shelter, asked if they had a cat we should take, and an employee loaded one up for us. Then for some reason, she wondered aloud whether he had a microchip, checked, and he didn't, so she popped one into him real quick and we were on our way. Except that as Nathan was loading the cat carrier into the back of the van, he saw movement and realized one of the mice had escaped and was loose in the van. I shut the side door as quick as I could while he looked for it, then hopped in the driver's door as fast as I could and coached him from the front. He lifted up the table, found the mouse, and caught it. Luckily, since it's super tame, all that happened was Nathan got peed on. I grabbed the hand sanitizer from the glove box of my car, and we headed off in the van, now running late.
We arrived at PetCo without further incident, and ended up only being one minute late (in the door--it took another few minutes to get set up, of course). Nathan was a great helper, and we quickly got the table set up, tablecloth and other supplies on it, with the small animals' cages on it as well. We settled the cat into his new abode, and sat down to wait for customers with questions. Before too long, another volunteer showed up with a dog. A small dog, but the most mild-mannered small dog I've ever seen. Daisy is a Bichon Frise mix, and was SO sweet. She sat nicely, didn't bark, loved attention, and laid down and just calmly watched all the goings-on most of the morning.
|Daisy, just chillin'|
|Daisy, checking out the action, but sitting so quietly|
|This is our setup--cats are out of the frame to both the left and right|
|Princess the guinea pig|
|Penny, the escapee mouse|
|Sugar, the less adventurous mouse|
These mice were SO tame. They actually LIKED being held, and when we tried to put them back in their cage, they'd cling to our hands rather than go back to hanging out in their usual home. They never tried to get out of our hands when holding them, and truly seemed to enjoy being held and petted. So sweet, so tiny, so soft.
We sat around for a while, answering questions, showing people the animals, and so on. A couple of people asked about kittens. We didn't have any there at PetCo, and in fact I don't think there are currently any at the shelter, so that's what I told people. The second person to ask about kittens said that the TV had announced we'd have kittens from CRAFT (a different local cat-only rescue), and I said that must be at PetSmart, not PetCo, because we weren't CRAFT and we didn't have kittens. She then went into how she'd go over there, then, because she wanted to give them a piece of her mind after she adopted a kitten from them who had to be put down at four months old due to fatal health issues. Wow, that sucks, but also glad we dodged that bullet since we're not them.
Then a woman came up to us--she had a dog in the kid seat of the shopping cart, and a fairly large bird cage in the basket part. She asked if we would mind babysitting her bird while she took her dog into the grooming area right near us. Would we mind? Nah, it was awesome! We found out the bird was a female named Pegasus, and spent the next half hour or so (along with three other boys and quite a few other adults) chatting with the bird. She can say a few words that resemble English, but mostly just speaks jibberish with a very conversational intonation, like a baby does. She was very friendly, and even very gentle to fingers that poked through the cage toward her beak.
Then, as if that wasn't enough excitement, we spotted a guy with a giant lizard (an Australian Sand Monitor) named Slick. He wasn't for sale, the guy just does demonstrations to school groups or whatever, and brought him to PetCo to show him off and promote his demonstrations and the fact he'll be on TV later this week.
THEN, a store employee brought out one of the birds for sale - a conure named Sunny. The bird was young and not completely used to humans yet, so she kept gently biting my fingers, hand, and arms when I held her, but I think she was just trying to get a feel/taste, not trying to hurt me or anything. Pretty bird.
Lastly, there was one more dog brought over from the shelter--Sunny, a male mix of some kind. Speculation for breeds includes pit or boxer (his head is pretty blocky), husky, or maybe German Shepherd. He's only 10 months old, and still acts very much like a puppy, but is SOOOooo cute. I have no doubt he'll be adopted soon.
|Sunny (the other one)|
Speaking of adoptions, Daisy (the small dog shown at the top) was adopted and is spending tonight in a house with a new human to love, and one of the four cats had had the paperwork finalized Friday, but the new owner came today at the very end of our shift to pick her up. Yay!
Like I mentioned above, in addition to the animals hauled over from the shelter who would also go back there for the night, there are four cages at PetCo for kitties. They all got plenty of attention, too, though I didn't take photos of them. Except for Ollie. He's such a sweet friendly kitty, and he got a LOT of attention throughout the day, and by 1:00, he was passed out, in bliss from all the attention but ready for some hard-core napping.
Nathan had done a GREAT job loading up the back, jigsaw-puzzling the cages and carriers amongst each other and on top of the flatter cargo. My mom would be so proud. However, he failed to take into account the (lack of) friction between the folded table and the bottoms of the rodent cages, so when I applied the brakes (gently!), the guinea pig went sliding, and when it reached the edge of the table, it also tipped over, spilling the shredded paper bedding, knocking the water bottle off, and shaking up but not harming the guinea pig herself. Ugh. Then the next time I applied the brakes (even MORE gently), the mouse cage slid off the table, though at least it stayed upright. However, Nathan noticed that Penny had escaped once AGAIN. So I pulled over and he got the cages and critters all sorted back out again, left them directly on the floor of the van (instead of back on top of the folded table), and we were finally on our way again.
Back at the shelter, we unloaded the critters, unloaded the supplies, and were told just to leave the mess in the van for someone else to vacuum up later. Oops. Sorry! They also didn't have a cat to transport back to PetCo after all, so we were off the hook in that regard, and got to head straight home.
I don't know how people who work retail do it. I got to sit down for a good portion of the day, didn't have to talk to THAT many people, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the different critters, but I am EXHAUSTED. Wiped out. Ready for bed.