It feels as if it’s been raining for months here. My nearest refuge don’t walk their dogs when it’s raining because the risk of illness is higher if the dogs get too wet. That makes a lot of sense, as the dogs can’t easily warm up in their pens, but it meant I couldn’t visit there this week.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way though, so I turned in the other direction and went to a different refuge who let the dogs out for a walk in all weathers. They have more protection from the weather at this one, so getting wet isn’t such an issue for the dogs. As it turned out, we only had a couple of heavy showers so most of the dogs didn’t get too wet, and neither did we!
I went with a lady who has been volunteering there for about ten years. Each week she spends an afternoon walking as many of the dogs as she can, so if you’re in our area and need a workout, I recommend Vera as a walking buddy!
There were a few of us there on the same day including two English ladies there for their first visit being introduced by a couple of our other LAARFers and a couple of students doing their stage (work experience). There was also a chap there who helped Vera when she first started volunteering, so who knows how long he has been doing it. He was on his own, and apparently he lives locally and is there almost every afternoon doing the same thing. His wife doesn’t like dogs, so it’s his way of having some doggy contact. What a lovely man, and what lucky dogs.
The students were out with a dog and a bowl each. If I’d had the time, I would have stopped and taken a photo, as the bowls were to collect a stool sample from the dogs. I would have loved to see the look on their faces whilst they were doing that, both the dogs and the attached teenager!
So, who did we walk? I barely caught any names, there were so many. I can’t even remember how many we walked, but it felt as if it was most of them!
One of the last pair really pulled on my heartstrings. They were a couple of smallish dogs, so a nice pair to finish the day with. One of them was very dominant and he was fine. My little poppet was very sad. Vera said she hadn’t been able to get him out for a walk last time she tried, so she was really pleased that he came out without a problem.
We got him about 50 metres outside the gates and he just stopped, so I stopped, went back to him, gave him a treat and he was fine again…for about 50 meters. He stopped again, so I went back to him and gave him a cuddle, and on he went…for about 50 meters. By this time, I was actually thinking about what I was doing. Effectively I was rewarding him every time he stopped, so the third time it happened, I just stopped too, didn’t respond to him at all, and after a minute, he was ready to move on again. He was also much better on the return leg, which is reassuring, There was no problem getting him back to his kennel.
This little fella may take some time to find a home. He really needs someone to work with him every day to build his confidence. How can they do that when the refuge staff only have enough time to feed and clean out the dogs? Volunteers can’t commit to go every day, and I’m no expert, but it’s probably not the best thing for him to focus on a single relationship anyway. He needs to be eager when someone new looks into his eyes. We are lucky that, at this refuge, LAARF should soon have enough volunteers for each day of the week. If one of us spends time with him each day, we could make a huge difference to his confidence and his chances of finding a loving, happy home.
If we multiply that around the country, think how many dogs we are helping just through giving a few hours of our time when we can.
On a slightly different note, anyone want a beagle? I only got one decent photo at the refuge and this is the lucky dog. I don’t even know if it’s a boy or a girl! I’ve also seen a beagle puppy at another refuge in our area, so if you’re in department 16 or 17 and would be interested in a beagle, please get in touch.
In fact, if you’re looking for a particular dog or cat, let us know. We are getting to know all sorts of dogs and cats and would be over the moon if you want to rescue one of the shelter dogs and cats we are meeting on our adventures.