Back in Harness

Well, the weather was perfect at Camp Pine Ridge this weekend.  Wood Badge Course C-37-06 came to a successful conclusion with many newly trained Scout leaders headed home to strengthen their Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, Venture crews and Varsity teams.  I had a great time, but I find that sleeping on a camp cot is not as comfortable as it was thirty-three years ago when I spent the entire summer sleeping on a cot.

In the summer of 1973, I worked full time at the Central Missouri Humane Society.  In those days, it was a much smaller operation.  There was a small front office, a dozen individual cat cages, one large group cat cage, a big kitten cage, and forty indoor-outdoor runs for dogs.  There was an old house on the property where one employee lived in an attic apartment.  I took up residence in a downstairs room.  One of the other downstairs rooms was converted to cage space for shelter overflow, and the kitchen was shared with food prep for the animals and for me.  No air conditioning, so before I lay down on my army cot for the night, I’d eat a bowl of lime sherbet and take a cold bath, and try to go to sleep before I got hot and sweaty again.  The accomodations were not exactly plush.

Despite the spartan living conditions, 10-hour days, and six-day workweek (and I volunteered at the College of Veterinary Medicine large animal clinic on my day off, trying to "get my foot in the door"), that summer at the shelter was an incredible experience.  My previous animal experience had been primarily with horses and I thought I needed to learn to work with dogs and cats.  Boy, did I ever!  More importantly, though, that was where I began to learn to work with "the public".  What an eye opener! You’ve always heard that it takes all kinds, but many folks don’t get the opportunity to meet all kinds, particularly not under very emotional circumstances.  "I could tell you stories…" and in future posts, I probably will.  It was good for me, though.  You’ll find that animals hardly ever come to the veterinary hospital without their people.

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