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A day in the life of an animal care assistant: Dogs

Jun 27, 2016

“No two days are alike.” It is a very overused cliché, and yet it does ring true when you are an animal care assistant at a rehoming centre. This post will give you a little snapshot into some of the things we get up to in any given day.

Our working day starts at 08:30, with a team briefing. In this we find out what we have planned: what animals may be coming or going, any flea and worming treatments to do, vaccinations etc, plus our favourite day of course, drain cleaning! (Though I usually let the volunteers do that…well we can’t have them standing around can we?)

Then it’s on to cleaning. The dogs have a kennel backs (with their beds in) and a little run joined onto it. If we’re lucky, the dogs haven’t had any dodgy tums, and the cleaning can be done fairly quickly. Every few days they get a proper hose down and a scrub. Once done we dish out the feeds. Each dog has their own diet, with some needing to be on more specialised diets. It’s at this time we’ll administer any medication required.

With the mucky part done, it’s onto playing with the dogs. But we aren’t always just sat in the yard, we’ll be training them to walk better on a lead, teach them tricks, or playing tug of war with a dog and a rope tug. If the dogs are vaccinated and neutered, we can take them for a walk around the block or to the nearby park. This offers great respite for the dogs as kennels can be quite stressful for some dogs. Plus it means they can get to meet new people and see new things when out and about. It also gives the dogs a chance to get seen by the public if they’ve not been to the centre. With 22 kennels, this is a lot of dogs for us to get out (this may not seem like a lot, but we are only a tiny centre in comparison to some). We are fortunate enough to have some fantastic dog walkers who regularly give up their time to brighten up a dogs day (you people know who you are, a big thank you to you all). We’ll do that mainly until dinner time.

Onto the afternoon: as well as carrying on with socialising with the dogs, we are now open to the public. So we’ll be answering any questions people have, and helping those interested find the dog that is best suited to them. If someone finds the right dog for their circumstances, we can go into our dog yard and let the people get to know their possible pet. If, after all the questions have been answered and if they like what they’ve seen, we can look to reserve any given dog to the person. We’ll fill out the paperwork and sort out repeat visits for people, and all the other bits required. 

What else…well, if we’ve had new dogs in, they’ll need health checking, flea and worming, weighing. Then there’s the paperwork to do as well so our colleagues know what has and hasn’t been done and when (we would hate to do it all over again to then find out someone had already done it.) Some dogs will need testing with other dogs, and this can be done safely in our split yard. This all helps us understand what sort of home the dog in question will be best suited to. Other little jobs to do are afternoon feeds, tidying around the centre, cleaning recently vacated kennels, washing the blankets (sadly this doesn’t do itself), cleaning the kennels of any faeces or urine. There are many tasks that can occupy our time and the list is not exhaustive.

I had a pedometer application on my phone. It recommends I walk 6,000 steps per day. The Tuesday just passed, I clocked up nearly 19,000 steps. This equates to approximately 10.5 miles. Considering the size of the centre and that it is in the middle of Derby, I think this is fairly impressive. So when people say all we do is sit and play with puppies, I’d invite them to volunteer with us, and get stuck in and see what it’s all about. Equally, when we go home and think, “I got paid to walk some dogs, play with some, and feed them”, well... that’s not bad really.

Thanks for reading. I shall leave you with this lovely image of Bond, James Bo......sorry, our Team Leader, Mat (we’re not always joking around...honest).


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