Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Walking Dogs

Yesterday I spent 2 hours walking and feeding dogs at the NH SPCA -- our local "dog shelter." Srini has volunteered there for nearly 10 years, but I never went through the rather simple, but careful, training. Since we've adopted two dogs from there, and my work schedule allows, I thought it was time I helped too. Also, after our experience with Bella, I wanted to be around more dogs, to regain confidence in them and me.

This is a nice facility for the animals. Spacious, clean, friendly. The staff and volunteers arrive at 8:00 sharp. There is a large room for cats and smaller rooms for rabbits, mice, ferrets, and sometimes birds, and snakes. A beautiful barn and fenced fields house the horses and the occasional goat.

It is the dogs though that get immediate attention. While volunteers take out the dogs for a morning walk, the staff clean the kennels. I walked Rascal, a coon hound mix. He had no manners, pulled like crazy, and ignored all my instructions.

Nearly once a month, the SPCA receives a transfer of dogs from a shelter from elsewhere. The newest batch arrived Sunday from Alabama. These shelters apparently have less space and less ability to adopt dogs out. The NH SPCA accepts dogs with good temperament and has a good record of finding homes for them. When they arrive though, they are a bit unruly.

After Rascal, I walked Zane, a friendly happy Aussie mix. Then Penny, another unruly hound/cattle dog mix. My arm was getting tired. These dogs just need some love and some training. I gave a little of both. I finished with a 5-month old schnauzer/lab mix. She too was a little rambunctious, but at least she was small. After each dog was walked and back in their now clean kennel, we mixed up their food and medications, as needed. Some dogs eat every last morsel and look for more. Others eat some and leave some and just want more attention.

Another group of volunteers will come in the afternoon to walk the dogs again. Other volunteers help with the cats, or horses, or small animals. Some volunteers have given thousands of hours here. My first 2 hours went well. I'll go back next week. Once you meet the dogs, regardless of their wildness, they become friends. But you hope they leave for a nice home before your next visit, because that is the goal.

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