Bad Shelter Volunteer

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lostsheltervolunteer
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:20 pm

Bad Shelter Volunteer

Post by lostsheltervolunteer » Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:34 pm

Hi, I am a new member. I have recently begun volunteering at an animal shelter because I really love animals, but I feel like I am a failure. I have done so many things wrong there and people are always correcting me.

Some examples:
-When you take a dog for a walk, you are supposed to put a note up on their cage that they are outside. I almost always forget to do this. So then as I am walking out there always happens to be another volunteer or a worker who tells me that I must do that and they usually aren't that nice about it. I have only been there for two days, but they act like it is horrible of me. I think I should remember it too, but I just have trouble remembering things.
-Also, I often forget to bring a bag when we go outside (which you need to clean up if they go to the bathroom. Plus, I even have trouble opening and closing the cages- I always fumble. It is embarrassing!
-They also showed how you could rope that leash behind the dog's legs if they are very strong so that you have more leverage, like a harness. I had accidentally put it through the wrong part of the collar on one of the dogs, which was defeating its purpose, and another volunteer saw it and called me out in front of the new volunteers she was coaching! I tried to be nice and make some casual conversation, but she just ignored me and walked away!
-Another example of making stupid mistakes: I found that one of the dogs had gone to the bathroom in their cage, so I got paper towels and picked it up and brought it to the room where we dispose of waste. There was a worker in there in the way of where I had to put it, so just as explanation / conversation I smiled and said that one of the dogs had messed in their cage and I was cleaning it up. Rather than being nice, she said in a rude voice "Well throw it away." I couldn't then because she was still standing in front of the location we dispose of it at, so I just had to awkwardly stand there while she didn't move to let me get rid of it, when she easily could have stepped away for a moment, even though she had just order to me get rid of it.

Thanks for replying if you have any thoughts. I feel like I'm not good at anything. How silly are some of these mistakes?! It is so frustrating. Plus I am a really shy and somewhat socially anxious person, and the experiences I have been having with some of the workers and other volunteers are not helping. I was really excited about volunteering at a shelter because I hoped that it would help me with my depression and make a positive difference, but these experiences are definitely not helping.

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Nettle
Posts: 10719
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: Bad Shelter Volunteer

Post by Nettle » Thu Mar 03, 2016 4:44 am

Hello and welcome to the Board. Well done for volunteering at the shelter.

You recognise that your social skills need developing. You need also to recognise that others you work with may have similar issues. Cut yourself some slack, and do the same for them. If someone criticises the way you do something, that doesn't mean YOU are being criticised but that the way you have done something is not the way it should have been done, so don't take criticism personally. Just treat it as a reminder that you need to adjust your methods.

This work will be brilliant for your organisational skills. You understand that forgetting things is not an option. How about you write yourself a checklist and learn it? Then you can either look at your list or recite it as you do each job. There are reasons for doing things the way the shelter wants them done, and even if you disagree with those reasons, that doesn't matter. Just do things the way they want.

Similarly, this is a great opportunity to develop your communication skills. For instance, in the dog-mess-bin scenario you describe, you could have said, "Excuse me please I need to put this mess in the bin" and then there would have been no misunderstanding.

Rome wasn't built in a day. To get on in life, all sorts of skills are needed, and you have a great opportunity to develop yours at this shelter.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

wvvdiup1
Posts: 3397
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 2:31 am
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Bad Shelter Volunteer

Post by wvvdiup1 » Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:20 am

Well done for volunteering your time at your local animal shelter and welcome to the forum! :D

I think Nettle is right: you'll develop social and organizational skills; furthermore, you'll learn how to work better with other people, especially those that criticize you. Just don't let their criticisms bring you down. As Nettle has said, write your own check list of what you have to do at each job.

Unfortunately, whether you work at a paying job or work as a volunteer anywhere, you're going to get those kinds of people. So, the best thing you can do is what Nettle has said and keep a healthy, positive attitude while learning and doing your job.

Thanks so much for volunteering at your local shelter! :D
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"Common sense is instinct. Enough of it is genius." -author unknown

lostsheltervolunteer
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:20 pm

Re: Bad Shelter Volunteer

Post by lostsheltervolunteer » Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:26 am

Thank you to both of you for replying. Luckily, I am getting more adjusted to things now and am better able to enjoy my time there. I have met a lot of really nice, happy, and supportive volunteers and haven't really had to deal with or seen again the ones that were not.

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