Rainy days are dreary days. It was blistering hot when I embarked on my long walk towards the shelter early this afternoon. But by the time we fed the dogs just over an hour later, it started to pour extremely heavily. The weather was exactly the same yesterday.
I used to like rainy days because it allowed me to snuggle under my fluffy comforter with a good book and a mug of hot coffee. The feeling of contentment was rare and wonderful. But now, I would forgo these luxuries for sunny weather because I have come to know full well the discomfort the dogs experience on a wet, flooded rainy day.
The ground at the shelter is pretty uneven. This forms mini potholes in the ground that collect water. The drainage system is also far from perfect. However, redoing the floor or drainage is out of the question. It would require immense amount of money to hire contractors and find alternative residence for the dogs during the period of construction. Furthermore, the effort and money wouldn't be worthwhile in the long run because we can't guarantee that we'll remain at this particular site beyond two years.
We put up a roof at the shelter over the past year. This provides the minimum shelter required for us to carry out the feeding on rainy days and allow the dogs to seek refuge from the rain. But you know the curious animals that dogs are. When we prepare the meals in the common corridor, some of these furry friends will ignore the rain and run out towards us in an attempt to get some treats. When they see us walking around the compound, trying to wash up the place, they wander into the rain to join us. A few of them, such as Dribble and Daelle, would just loiter in the rain, gazing out of their compound longingly. Dribble would so often place his paw on the gate and then look up at me, as if telling me that it is time for a walk despite the rain. After their meal, rice and kibble will inevitably be scattered all about the floor. We have to hose down the entire area to get rid of such food remnants as well as the poop and pee following their meals. This means that the already wet floor will become even more flooded. We try to sweep the water into the drains but the unceasing downpour means that we are never able to dry the floor properly.
Debbie is the alpha female at the shelter. She's big, strong and has put many a dog in his or her rightful place. No other dog messes with our Debbie at the shelter. But when it starts to pour, when thunder rumbles menacingly over head, bit by bit, Debbie loses that indomitable aura. She grows nervous, insecure and extremely worried. Heavy downpours are just not this dog's bowl of kibbles (read: cup of tea).
Doris also grows extremely anxious in such weather. Normally enthusiastic about food, she will lose all appetite when the rain grows heavy. The creases on her face will also deepen in anxiety in the face of relentless rain and wind.
Today, Dribble and Dior kept following me around as I washed their compound. When I bent down to hug a wet Dribble, I was shocked to find that his teeth were chattering a little and his body was shivering slightly. Dior was also slightly more needy than usual, coming close to me for a cuddle, as if being near me could protect her from the rain. At that very moment as I squatted uncomfortably with one dog in each arm, I truly felt miserable for them. Just like Dribble and Dior, I was wet and uncomfortable. But within moments, I would find myself at home where a hot shower was readily available. These dogs could only wait out this horrid downpour for the moment when the sun starts to peek through the clouds to bring warmth to their cold, wet home.
There is really no single point to this entry. I wrote this on a whim because I felt inexplicably exasperated with the weather. If this is the plight of shelter dogs on a rainy day, I don't even dare to begin to imagine what those poor stray dogs out there are going through. Shelter dogs and strays are hardy because of the hardships they have no choice but to go through. They, more than anybody, deserve a warm, safe place to call their home.
The rain seems to have come to a stop, but this hiatus appears tentative, as if a slight trigger will open the floodgates once more. Here I am, in front of my laptop in my warm haven of a home keeping my fingers crossed that there would be good weather aplenty in the days to come...
Rain, rain go away!