Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter: Part 10

Ok, time to finish up.  In Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter: Part 9, I talked more specifically about what I was doing (or not) during the craziness of last year, primarily focusing on the role NORMAN was playing at home (short version: driving me crazy) as well as being selected to move up to Yellow level.    Which was good in that it gave me the tools to work with NORMAN (and ALFIE) at home.  And bad in that I now had a lot of yellow dogs at the shelter to contend with too (and this was during the time of 2011 when we had a LOT of yellow level dogs).

I would note that I often joked with other volunteers that I often came to the shelter to get a break from my two crazy dogs at home.  Because although there were lots of them and a lot of yellow dogs specifically at the shelter, there was the advantage that, after I worked with them, I could put them back.  Mine, I didn’t have that luxury.  Anyhow, this is probably as good a segue as I’m going to get to talk about yellow dogs in a bit more detail.

Yellow Dogs: Introduction
I briefly described yellow dogs in Part 6 of this series but want to go into more detail here both.  I think if there is a single word I’d use it would be ‘unpredictable’. Because while BB dogs can have multiple issues, they are pretty much consistent on a day to day and minute to minute basis. They have those behaviors and show them all the time.

Sure, they can run quite the gamut (from being just above a blue dot dog all the way to sub-yellow) but they are fairly consistent across the board.  Simply, it’s rare for a BB dog to surprise you after you’ve walked them once or twice.  Usually, with regular training, if anything their bad behaviors go away and they get easier to handle.  Occasionally, BB dogs (especially at the sub-yellow level) will escalate or start worsening and get moved up.  But those are in the minority.

But this tends not to be the case for yellow dogs, especially when they first enter the shelter (our longer term residents are far more consistent).  Rather, yellow dogs can vary day to day, hour to hour and minute to minute.  A dog might be out of it’s mind (with pent up energy) on morning shift and show a host of bad behaviors and perfectly well behaved later in the day.  A dog you’re walking that feels like a blue dog might get a smell and lose it’s ever loving mind out of absolutely nowhere. Everything is fine then you’ll see it stiffen, hunch and start zooming. And this can happen really, really quickly.