Sunday, September 18, 2011

Playing with puppies for a good cause? Count me in!

Please adopt me, I want to love you forever!!

For the first time I am volunteering at an animal shelter. Doing volunteer work is one of those things I've been meaning to do that somehow kept getting pushed off, and since there is a no-pet policy in my apartment, I've also had trouble getting in my puppy fix (did you guys know that I like dogs?). I dog sit for my boss, but, let's be honest, she doesn't go on vacation nearly enough to satisfy my need for quality puppy time. So, I reached out to the Washington Humane Society, and lo and behold they are in desperate need of volunteers! After Hurricane Irene forced a delay in my touring the shelter (a prerequisite to volunteering), I was finally able to get started this past week.

I'm working at the smaller of their two shelters because it's a straight shot from my apartment, about a 25 minute bus ride, and the larger shelter is inconvenient to get to if you don't have a car. Space is tight, and as a result it's really important that things stay clean and organized. The cats and small animals (rabbits, gerbils, etc.) are on the first floor and the pups are downstairs in the basement. The pups live in fairly large cages with no roofs, which is great because they are a little less claustrophobic that way. There are usually about seven to nine dogs at any given time, and it's needless to say I love them all. Unfortunately I'm not really allowed to handle them yet-- I need to do 6-8 hours of general assisting (sweeping, washing dishes, cleaning cages, etc.) before I can begin my training to be a Dog Specialist. Then I can start walking, grooming, and socializing the pooches. I'm eager to get past this first hump so I can work with the dogs, but in the meantime I'm allowed to play with the kitties (I'm generally not a cat person, but surprisingly enough I really like the cats at the shelter. Maybe it's the whole I-feel-bad-they're-in-a-cage thing..). For now, I'm just enjoying getting to know the staff (it's nice to be around people that like animals as much as me) and feeling like I'm helpful.

One of my favorite things about the Washington Humane Society is they are seriously committed to giving every single animal a home. This entire weekend they are waiving adoption fees for their "Empty the Shelter" event, they host tons of off-site events to expose people to the animals, and they involve the animals in their large charity events. Every day they Facebook and tweet a "word of the day" that people can use to get 50% off on adoption fees. They are constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to get these animals in a home! It's something I'm proud to be a part of, even though it's a little tough to see the animals living in cages. It's worth it when you witness an animal heading off to its new home.

I'm looking forward to learning the ropes and becoming more and more helpful, and it's also great preparation for when I adopt my own dog someday. I'll totally be a master in training and caring for my pup by the time I get one!

And for those of you I KNOW are thinking it-- despite the temptation I am in fact not scheming to steal all the puppies and take them home with me. I swear...