Going to the Dogs…BY LAV, Illustrations by MG
After I retired, it seemed like a good idea to give back to my community and to the world. I had the time now to volunteer helping animals who needed homes. This would be rewarding. I could handle this. It would be fun.
My retired friends volunteered at schools, public libraries and food banks. I love animals so I decided to volunteer at the SPCA. It took me a while to get up the nerve and to find the time. Finally, I went online and applied to our local SPCA, paid the fee for getting fingerprinted and went in for my interview. The young gal who asked me a few questions was easy to talk with and it turned out, she lived 8 miles from where I did. She hired me on the spot and I got the feeling, it was because I was nice and I was a warm body.
So I passed with flying colors but had to take a 4 hour class and be trained on the site. After all that, I got my official badge, T-shirt and sign in number. I started walking dogs that were up for adoption and helping customers who came to see the dogs, safe dogs who had been screened.
The first dog that I walked, Snowball, was it turned out, much smaller but much smarter than me. I got the slip collar leash on him and we headed out of the yard through the gate. He stopped as I went forward and he just backed out of that collar like one slick and cool snowball sliding away into the distance, away he ran. “Help, help, I lost my dog!” I yelled, running to get help from the main office. An employee ran out with me to help (not all workers are volunteers) and she was quite serious and quite professional as she and soon another employee headed Snowball off by the gate, where he obediently stood waiting to get back on the main grounds where the kennels are located.
“Ma’am, we don’t yell ‘Help’. Just say ‘loose dog’ or call this number on your cell,” the kind worker informed me, giving me the number to put into my phone contacts. Snowball was now leashed up again, and heading to his little home kennel, which were called “condos “. They’re nice clean little rooms with all glass doors and viewing windows on one side for dogs to live in just like at your house until they find their forever home. Snowball had rolled back home and didn’t want to have a thing to do with me. He looked at me. He was wagging his tail as if to say, “So there, you volunteer newby. You couldn’t keep me on a leash. I am too slick! Ha!”
The first dog I walked, and he escaped easily. I felt like a failure. I can’t even walk dogs? But wait… this was volunteer work. This was voluntary. They couldn’t fire me. It wasn’t like I had to pass an audition or tryouts. And I was a senior. Surely they’ll feel sorry for an oldster who means well. They couldn’t get rid of me so easily.
I hung in there and walked more dogs over the next months, making sure they could not pull out or back out of their slip leash. I washed dog dishes, cat litter boxes, and kongs part of my time there. I got better as I got more experience. I found out though that some dogs are super strong so one big dog I took out once, took ME for the walk. I hung on for dear life. More later…