So fellow travelers, it has been an unusually long stretch for me to be away from my volunteer dog walking.
Freckles asking me “Hey Crazy Dog Lady where have ya been?”
Changes in schedules as well as being down to just one vehicle for the foreseeable future has been challenging. The round trip drive adds almost an hour to the time I am there but I have always felt it is well worth the extra time and gas. When I am away, I miss my time at the rescue, as much for the human friends I have made as for the wiggling butts and appreciative kisses from the dogs.
It worked out I could drop my daughter off at work and head across town for several hours this afternoon. I knew help would be needed. A large transport came in on Friday (read about the transport program here) and being a holiday weekend, many volunteers have other plans. In addition, many of the staff and regulars will be walking with some of the dogs in a Memorial Day parade on Monday. Lots of potential adopters come in on transport weekends so in addition to walking dogs, volunteers are needed to show people around and help them visit with dogs they are interested in.
Pretty Ms Julie: her stunning green eyes and sweet nature nabbed her a family less than an hour after we walked.
In the past weeks I have been reflecting a lot on the “revolving door” issue of rescue work.
Volunteers start out bright eyed and full of hope fueled by ambitious energy. They burn out quickly without a healthy balance of practical perspective and compassion. Without compassion for abusers and irresponsible breeders or owners, rescue workers become overwhelmed by anger and frustration. It’s an essential lesson I learned by personal experience so I know now to step back when I feel a need to regain perspective.
There is a never ending flow of animals, a flow which will not be reduced no matter how many are re-homed by rescues like Helping Hound Dog Rescue until the causal issues of abuse, over-breeding and irresponsible ownership are addressed. I don’t have answers but I know of several organizations which are working hard to find solutions. Their efforts fuel my hope and I am grateful to support them as best I can.
In the meantime I was happy to get back to doing the rounds with the latest residents at HHDR. I walked a dozen dogs, showed several visitors around and washed a stack of food bowls. Then just before heading home I gave myself the luxury of taking out my current favorite resident, an enthusiastic German Shepard mix whose resemblance to previous dogs of ours struck me the minute me met.
Ricky has a habit of greeting visitors with a vertical leap that brings his nose just to the top of his six foot pen. It’s a display of energy which guarantees it will take a bit longer for him to find a new family. He is however wicked smart and quite eager to please, so I have no problem getting him to sit while I clip on a leash and open the door to his pen. It might take a few tries, but he is quick to understand “out” isn’t going to happen if he’s jumping. He is developing good leash manners and responds quickly to correction (damn those distracting squirrels). Oh and his joy of bagging a stick knows no bounds.
“I got one!”
After burning off some energy, he’s quite happy to sit with me and watch the coming and goings around us. I admit having him rest his head on my shoulder as I sat on the curb next to him brought back some very sweet memories of our succession of German Shepard mixes, Tomo, Shadow and Sox. While our girl Delilah packs a big personality into her little twenty pound body, I do miss having a big dog at home. I usually fill that void with foster dogs but our travel itinerary puts fostering on hold until after summer. So I count on the ever changing line-up of walking buddies at the rescue to fill that need for now. Of course I am always glad to see them celebrate their “gotcha” day no matter if a heart string or two “twangs” when they go. I know there will be new buddies to love every time I walk through those doors.
Cyber gives Floyd a back rub while hanging out on the “cuddle couch.”
Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.
Editorial Note: Sunday’s at the Rescue is a series of posts about my experiences working with rescue dogs. It is named for Sunday, a sweet young dog who came through the rescue where I volunteer, stole a piece of my heart (as so many of them do) and got herself adopted into a great home.