Sunday, April 15, 2012

The mystery of Furry Day

What is Furry Day

I never fail to feel surprised when somebody asks this very question in bemusement. 

Furry Day has become such a universal term in our Gentle Paws world that it slips my mind that a newcomer to our shelter might genuinely have no clue what it is all about. 

With the experience of organizing a good 20 Furry Days behind us, let us take a deep breath to impart to you the meaning of this very special day. 

Furry Day is one day in each month where we organize an outing for the whole shelter to the beach.

At the bottom of it all, Furry Day is about bringing our dogs for one long leisurely walk at the beach to take in the fresh sea air and feel the fresh morning dew on the green, green grass.

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?

But logistics wise, Furry Day is one big fat hassle. 

Before the event, we've got to ensure availability of our drivers and vans, gather enough of our regulars to facilitate the event and commence our volunteer recruitment drive.

During the event, we've got to transport 35 dogs and about 50 humans to the beach, ensure that everyone remains contactable, that no one gets lost, that no fight breaks out, that all dogs remain hydrated and that, despite our sheer size, we're not a nuisance to fellow users of the park.

After the event, with the help of the participants, we've got to organize a mass shower for all the dogs to get the grime and salt of their furry bodies.

With each Furry Day that passes, I must say we feel more and more like a well-oiled machine. 

But it wasn't like that at the beginning. I recall being a bundle of nerves on the eve of each Furry Day. 

What if it pours on us?

What if volunteers who signed up bailed on us?

What if our dogs get themselves into trouble outside the shelter? 

The list of things to worry about was, frankly, endless. 

In many ways, I remain a worry wart. But the more our usual Furry Day team worked together, the greater our camaraderie and the easier things became. We began to step together to a sort of rhythm that only time and experience could build.

Looking back on Furry Days past, things did go wrong now and then. On their first furry day out, Benjy and Jasper jumped into the bushes and under a car and refused to come out. On another occasion, a fellow park user did not leash her pet dog who came running most enthusiastically toward the path of our most excitable dog Dribble. Then, there were fights that broke out within our own shelter dogs when unsuspecting volunteers brought them a little too close to each other. There was also one particular Furry Day where 13 volunteers out of 40 who signed up failed to appear with no prior notice. 

But despite all the trouble, Furry Days are worth every ounce of effort. 

First of all, Furry Day puts a smile on the faces of our dogs. Pictures don't lie. Just take a look at our furry day collections of photographs. There never fails to be a special light in our dogs' eyes on their day out at the beach.

We don't know how long each dog will be with us. Some get adopted, some fall ill, some inevitably pass away. Wherever life leads them, we like the idea of them having the memory of at least one Furry Day to take with them wherever they go.

Next, Furry Day is often the first substantial contact our volunteers have with our shelter. Some of them find they like working with dogs and they stick around the shelter after Furry Day has come and gone.  In fact, many of them have gone on to become members of the Furry Day Organising Team and very solid friends of ours!

Finally, Furry Day means our dogs get a good contented sleep at the end of the day. After their morning at the beach, a shower upon their return and their daily meal, many of them can be seen drooping off to dream land despite their best efforts to stay awake. The pent up energy accumulated from the five previous days is finally spent and the sense of accomplishment we get from seeing the doggies look so blissfully tired is something that is hard to translate into words.

So if you are unaware of what Furry Day means, we hope you now understand that it really is all about the morning sun, the sea breeze, the green grass, enthusiastic volunteers and very happy dogs.

We hope the enthusiasm for Furry Day never dies down. We will keep on organizing the event this month but it can never happen without YOU guys out there to get the show on the road.  

Furry Day dates each month are announced are our Facebook page. Please do keep a lookout! 

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