Wednesday, August 28, 2019

UNDERSTANDING SASSIE, 13, "Constant Cleaning"

Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication

The next day Ruth got to the Riverview Animal Shelter at 6:30 a.m. and went directly to the store room to finish cleaning the room’s floor.  June found her as she was rinsing the cleaning bucket and ready to put this and the other cleaning supplies into their labeled locations.  Once again Jane was surprised at Ruth’s work ethic.  “Good morning, Ruth.” Jane said as she motioned Ruth to follow her.

Jane approached the door marked, “Authorized Staff Only.” As she opened the door, she began to describe the area they were entering, “This area is where we keep the animals when they are brought in by the Animal Control Officer or any other animal that is considered found without knowledge of ownership.  We hold these animals for six days.  This is the waiting period for owners to claim their animal.  After the sixth day, the animal is given a series of shots and then neutered or spayed.  When the medical procedures are completed, the animals are moved to the public area and are then available for adoption.  Temperament testing is usually done when they are placed in the public area.” 

“One of the most important jobs at the shelter is the job of cleaning.” Jane continued, “Today, I wanted to introduce you to the cleaning procedures.  You may have already noticed that all of the animal holding areas are being constantly cleaned.  We always begin our cleaning with the ‘staff only’ area and then move to the ‘public area.’ 

“There are several laminated maps on this bulletin board for all of the areas.  These maps show the coded areas with a letter and number.  This helps to identify the area you may wish to describe in your report.  If you have a question about the need to clean an area, please check with me; otherwise, plan to clean all the areas.  You may find it easier to clean the ‘public area’ during volunteer dog walk times, so take advantage of the dog walker schedules.

“I’ve written the cleaning directions and various priorities on this sheet for your guide.  There will be a number of people doing the cleaning; be aware of them and please co-ordinate with all the members of the cleaning team.    As I mentioned earlier, cleaning will always be the top priority.  I will be the job coordinator of the cleaning schedules, but whenever in doubt, start cleaning at whatever you think is an immediate need for cleaning, and I will find you. Do you have any questions?” 

Ruth saw that the “staff only” area was unoccupied, so she was unsure if more cleaning was needed in this area at this time; she asked, “Has this area already been cleaned?” 

Jane said, “Yes. Now would be a good time to begin working with the cleaning team in the other area.”  They began to walk toward the area being cleaned.  As they walked, Jane decided to compliment Ruth on her willingness to work in all the areas of the shelter.

Ruth smiled and replied, “I’m enjoying the work and the animals are a joy to care for.”

They quickly found one of the cleaning crew.  Jane introduced Ruth and said, “She can bring you up to speed on the work that still needs to be done.” 

Jane turned to go and begin her daily chore of paperwork when she remembered to mention the new shipment of cleaning supplies.  “I know you needed more of the disinfectant.  It just came in and is in a case by the delivery entrance.”


With her permission, I am serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through

As her editor and coach, I aided Helen through my endeavor.

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