Amy, how long have you worked at SPCA?
I’ve been at the SPCA for six years. My first job was at a vet clinic.
How did you get into working with deaf dogs?
“I started working with deaf dogs in 2006, when I got involved with an organization called Deaf Dogs Rock. They helped me foster my first deaf dog, and they trained me how to work with him. Training a deaf dog is basically the same as training a hearing dog, except you use hand signals instead of voice commands. For example, if you want to tell your dog to sit, hold your hand out flat in front of you and move it up and down. This is much more effective for deaf dogs than yelling or whistling!
Deaf dogs need some extra attention because they can’t hear the world around them…but once you get past that, they have just as much potential as any hearing dog!
What is the toughest part about of your job?
>I’m sure this one is tough.
>>It is. The hardest part of my job is when I have to see an animal in pain or suffering from an injury, and knowing that I can’t do anything about it. There are times when there are injured animals that we just can’t save, so we have to put them down. That sucks, but it’s part of the job. A lot of people don’t know about that side of things, but if you work at a shelter you will be dealing with that kind of thing on a regular basis.
The easiest part?
What’s the easiest part of your job?
Probably working with the dogs. I like being able to go home knowing that we’ve helped them. SPCA has monthly fundraising events, which results in a casual and community atmosphere, and I get to be part of an organization that cares about animals.
Can you tell us about a particular rescue that had an impact on you?
Coco is a dog that I once rescued. When I first saw Coco, I knew that she was special. She had been abandoned by her owner and was super scared. She barked and barked at me for an hour before finally letting me grab her leash. Once I got her leashed up, we headed to the vet where she had surgery for ear mites. The whole process was so rewarding because after a few weeks of recovery, Coco became one of the happiest dogs in the shelter and has since been adopted!
Rescuing animals can be rewarding work.
Even if you are not at a point in your life where you can adopt or foster an animal, there are still so many ways to help. I’ve seen the impact of rescuing animals in need firsthand, and the experience has been incredibly rewarding. It’s also good for the soul: one study found that pets boost immunity and emotional well-being, while another found that owning a pet can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
If you would like to volunteer but don’t know where to start, consider attending an SPCA orientation session, which covers all aspects of volunteering at our organization.