I’ve been walking dogs at the KC Pet Project in Mo for two and a half months now. It is both the most rewarding and painful thing I have ever done. I laugh and cry and sometimes both at the same time. I’m the person who watches all the animal videos on Facebook and balls her eyes out so actually living it out in person makes for a very emotional experience.
The reward comes in knowing you are making a difference in this dogs life. He’s getting walks, treats, love and comfort he wouldn’t be getting in an abusive home or on the streets. My favorite thing to do when I get to the shelter is to walk up and down the rows and just talk to them and pet them through their cages. I also say goodnight to them and tell them to have a restful sleep and pleasant dreams as I walk out the door. I hope they feel my love and that it restores their hope. I genuinely love them all.
Sometimes as I near their cages they will put their body up against the cage and just wait for me to touch them. A few of them will roll on their backs and you can feel and see the love they are so desiring and desperate for. I like to take them out for a walk so they can relieve themselves then find an empty play yard and just love the heck out of them. If the play yards are full, I have this bench I go to that I call the love bench and we just sit and talk, enjoy treats and I brush their hair.
Their personalities are so different. Some will walk right by your side and never leave your side. Others will play tug of war or with balls and some will just walk around the kennel yard not interested in you at all but they all are interested in the treats you offer them.
I pray for each of them to find good homes and for God to heal them or keep them in good health. And sometimes as I’m praying, I break down and cry. My heart breaks for the seniors the most. It takes a very special person to adopt a senior. My hats off to them knowing they may only have a short time with them or health issues may come up that can put a huge dent in their finances. It breaks my heart that seniors are even in the shelter. Most of these sweet babies are used to the comforts of a home and all of a sudden it’s ripped apart from them and most people looking for dogs are looking for certain breeds or puppies. We do have amazing people in the shelter network who foster seniors and I just love and respect them so much. That is my future dream when my two boxer girls pass on. I was only going to foster boxers until I started falling in love with shelter dogs.
There are times that I am so overwhelmed that I will get into my car and cry all the way home. There was this one dog named Hinkley that I took out for a walk two weeks ago. She got out of her kennel great but as we were walking, the sound of someone closing the dumpster freaked her out. She jumped and ducked. I got her calm and we walked this path that I like to call PooPoo Alley cause it’s just a perfect place for the dogs to pee and poo. When we got on the path, I went to pet her and she went down on the ground terrified. Her eyes became like saucers. I felt so bad for her but it scared me. I took her over to the play yard and just let her walk around but those eyes. She let me pet her a couple of the times very gently on the head but she was just so fearful. I started wondering if she had been abused and maybe I looked like the person who had hurt her. I left the kennel and asked a staff member to help me and she jumped when he tried to pet her. He was amazing with her and we walked her back into the shelter and he and another staff member got her back in her kennel even though she didn’t want to go in. My heart was broken. She was my last dog to walk for the day. As I climbed into my car the tears started rolling and I sobbed all the way home. This poor baby just needs to have a home where she feels safe and totally loved. I keep her in my prayers daily. I haven’t’ taken her out again but I stop by and talk to her and feed her treats. I want her to trust me and know that I love her so much.
I love volunteering! I’ve had a passion for animals all my life, especially the abandoned and hurt. I see this path I’m on as a great privilege that I don’t take lightly. I’m just so glad to be a part of this great work.
Update: I noticed Hinkley hadn’t been getting afternoon walks and I would see her standing there always waiting and I couldn’t stand to see her like that. So, I decided this day was the day I was going to resume our walks. I didn’t try to pet her. We just walked and I sang to her and told her how wonderful she is. She still flinched a little if I moved my hand too fast but we made it all the way around the building and she went peacefully into her cage. I made a decision yesterday that as long as she is there, she’s gonna be my sweet baby who is always going to get her afternoon walk and a tremendous amount of love. I’m not going to give up on her!