Winding down

Fall is definitely here and winter is right around the corner. The rescue usually winds down in November and December. There is a two-fold reason for doing this.

 Alumnus AJ doesn't like the rain.

Alumnus AJ doesn't like the rain.

First, it's just the natural rhythm of life here in the Midwest. Day light savings time 'falls back' and darkness begins to crawl forward earlier in the evening. This throws us off as much as the dogs and usually everyone sleeps more. The weather turns wet and cold, eventually add snow into the mix, and people stay indoors. No one thinks - hey let's get another dog, when they're wiping snow and muck off of the bottom of their current dog's feet every time they come inside from a freezing cold bathroom break. Having two dogs means twice the amount of work, and living in the Midwest, that's a lot of work in the winter. Two doggy coats to put on, eight feet to wipe, extra snow shoveling to do to clear favorite (and necessary) poop spots, two dogs to towel dry and then the obligatory house zoomies (times two) because it's just so much fun to go run around in the snow.

 Current 2017 Adoptabull Libby at the shelter.

Current 2017 Adoptabull Libby at the shelter.

The second reason we dial it back in November and December is because people's lives get busy. Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, people get together and/or travel at the end of the year. This extra change in schedule and foot traffic is not conducive to pulling a dog from the shelter. We prefer a quiet environment for at least the first three days when a new dog comes into the shelter. Why, you may ask? The shelter is a stressful environment and so is the process of us pulling a dog from the shelter. Imaging you had spent the past 1.5 years (in dog time or 90 days in human time) at the shelter. One day someone shows up, bathes you, puts you in a car, drives you away, introduces you to other dogs, and integrates you into their home. That's a lot of change for a dog and will stress them out. The body's natural response to stress is to release cortisol. Cortisol is a naturally occurring steroid hormone in the adrenal gland. Cortisol has positive affects like accellerating the metabolic response rate (opening air paths and blood vessels to allow more oxygen to aid in flight from life threatening situation) or negative affects like increasing the healing times of wounds. Once a body receives a spike of cortisol it takes approximately 72 hours for their body to process the hormone and balance back out.

Not only do our foster families get busy over the holiday's, in the past, we have had adopters decided to return their dogs at this time of year too. I have personally spent a Thanksgiving day driving 3 hours to pick up an adoption return. The following year I spent a Christmas morning picking up a foster return. So I can tell you from personal experience that it is in the benefit of the rescue to slow down in November and December because there is an increased chance of crazy stuff happening.

Usually we pick back up around the end of February and March (when Spring is right around the corner). That is not to say we won't pull dogs for the next four months, it's just that if we do we will be very intentional about which dogs would work the best given the conditions.