While working in a boarding facility, as well as being a substitute in a school district, I have encountered lots of children who would like to work with animals one day. Of course, I do what I can to encourage this. But there are some things I leave out when talking about careers involving animals - one thing I never mention is the sheer amount of poop.
Best. Photobomb. Ever. (from here)
If you are easily grossed out by the sight and smell of feces...a job with animals is probably not for you. Because there will be a lot of it. And you will have to pick it up...or hose it down...or scrape it (cringe!) off of metal bars. Here are some other things you should know about scoopin' poop before signing up to make it part of your job description:
The canine guests at boarding facilities often keep cleaner kennels than their shelter-bound brothers. In general, the dogs being boarded are neater and make fewer messes. Most are fully trained and housebroken, simply because they belong to a family. Shelter dogs do not have that luxury - some are used to living on the street, so they don't know that they shouldn't potty in their kennel. (This is, however, hard to determine; a shelter is a very scary environment for a dog, so they often act completely different than they would in a home - the messiest, poop-flinging dogs in the shelter could very well never have an accident in their new forever home.)
Puppy poop is in a category unto itself. If you mention puppies to shelter employees, you might get a tired, defeated sigh in return. Puppies are messy! They walk in their poop, play with their poop, roll their puppy brothers and sisters into the poop. You will have to hose those creative paintings off of the walls of the kennel, and often off of the puppies themselves.
You won't notice the smell after a few minutes. Very few shelters are able to afford the luxury of someone caring for the animals overnight. Most are run by dedicated volunteers or staff members who are lucky to get a few minutes to eat lunch - these shelters generally close in the early evening, and the animals are left alone until morning. In these hours, as you can imagine, there is poop! My first early morning cleaning kennels, I worried that I should have brought some Vick's VapoRub to smear into my nostrils...but after a few minutes had passed and I got cleaning, I didn't even notice it. "Smell? What smell?" (It was always pretty disconcerting when I neared my lunch break, though, to have my stomach rumble in hunger at the same time as I cleaned up a fresh pile. Yuck.)
You will long for winter. As the flies buzz around the bucket full of scooped poop and follow you to the dumpster where you hope the overstuffed trash bag won't (gag!) bump into your leg...you'll be praying for cold temperatures and snow. Until, that is, you have to chip each turd individually from its casing of ice in order to pick it up...then you'll be wishing for summer again.
If you notice poop in a kennel, go to grab the scooper, and return to find the pile missing? Yeah, the dog ate it. This will happen a lot. Just make sure you avoid any licks from that dog for the rest of the day :)
Don't worry, buddy, you're not the only one! (from here)
Sometimes, you might be impressed in spite of yourself. Great Dane poops are big, people. Like, really big. (Like, take-a-picture-and-send-to-your-husband big.) I also recall one pair of black Labs whose kennels were next to each other...overnight, they would apparently take a dump, then fling it exuberantly anywhere they could. Into neighboring kennels, and even onto the ceiling. I couldn't help but be amazed by their flinging skills.
If you're not too put off by the above, yay! You just might be cut out for an animal-related career! And listen: the poop-scooping and all that comes with it...is totally worth it. For every one complaint I have about working with animals, I have ten more positive things to say about it - it really is one of the most rewarding things you can do!
Share your own stories below - let's face it, everyone loves a good poop story! ;)