I really enjoyed the Humane Society of Utah volunteer training I completed today! I have, as mentioned in my last post, chosen to work with dogs. Today I learned the basics of HSU dog handling procedures, and got the opportunity to walk a few dogs, too.
HSU houses small dogs separate from large dogs. When I arrived and met my trainer, Michelle, she had just put two small poodle-ish looking dogs on leashes and was getting ready to take them for a walk. It was the perfect opportunity to introduce the rules for walking small dogs!
There is a fenced in area where the small dogs are walked, which encompasses the main guest parking area and a large grassy area. As we strolled along, each of us with a dog, Michelle explained some of the basic procedures and answered my questions. After being out with the dogs for about 10 – 15 minutes, we took them back inside and put them in their kennel (they were kennel mates).
Michelle then gave me the nickel tour of the facility, showing me where to find supplies, the kitchen, and laundry room. And there’s a lot of laundry! HSU relies heavily on donations of old or new blankets and towels. Among other uses, towels are essential for drying animals off after bathing. Blankets are often put in with the animals to give them extra warmth and comfort. They also go through a tremendous amount of newspaper, used as kennel liner and thus requiring
HSU needs your donations of towels, blankets and newspaper! If you’re an area resident, consider HSU as an alternative to newspaper recycling! If you know me or see me routinely, you can give any such donations to me for delivery to HSU.
Next, Michelle took me into the large dog kennel area. After explaining some rules for handling the large dogs, I met Lulu. What a sweetheart! The dogs love it when they get extra time outside, so Lulu was happy for another opportunity to go out. There are large fenced in runs that enable the bigger dogs to run free and without a leash. Michelle showed me the proper procedures, and Lulu quickly began to show her personality! In the 15 minutes or so I spent with Lulu, she showed off her ability to jump up on the visitor’s bench inside the run and to sit proudly at attention. She also taught me that she liked being scratched under the chin, was very much a “people pet”, and would fetch a ball. And she had a gorgeous face!
After returning Lulu to the kennel she shares with her kennel mate, Michelle completed what remained of my training. That done, I decided to walk a few more dogs!
So, after sanitizing my hands (a must-do between animals), I headed back to the small dog area and introduced myself to Johnny — a Jack Russell terrier. Actually, it would be more accurate to say Johnny introduced himself by a demonstration of his determination to be noticed! Opening his kennel as Michelle had shown me, I slipped on the leash and Johnny and I walked through the lobby and out the front door.
At that point things changed: Johnny began to walk me! It didn’t take me long to get the hang of it, though — remember, I am the one who was doing all the learning here! I’ve walked my parent’s Dachshund many times, but Rusty doesn’t have near the amount of energy of a Jack Russell! Johnny was fun, and I enjoyed his upbeat energy.
And then I moved on to Jack, and Jack was a joy! Another terrier, Jack was ready and happy to go outside. Slipping on the leash, we walked calmly through the lobby, out the front door, and into the grassy area. Grabbing a few “poo bags” from the dispenser to shove in my pocket, Jack and I started our walk. Jack didn’t pull on the leash, trying to walk me, like Johnny had! Jack walked at the same pace I did, so I thought it would be interesting to see if Jack liked to run. Commencing a slow jog, Jack was right there with me, excited to have the opportunity to run (even if with an aging non-runner!). Impressed with Jack, I knelt down on the grass where I was quickly met with an exuberance of warm, canine charm. Eventually we came to a bench, and I decided to sit down. Jack jumped up beside me, where he appreciatively accepted being petted and having his ears rubbed. It wasn’t long before he was half-in and half-out of my lap!
After spending about 15 minutes with Jack, we headed back inside. I don’t know much about dogs; as I’ve mentioned, I’m a cat person. But Jack impressed me; he was obviously a dog that enjoyed companionship. As I got him back inside and to his kennel, I noticed a young man and his family checking out Johnny. I took the opportunity to tell them about the few minutes I’d spent with Johnny before taking out Jack, and as I left they were deciding among themselves if they wanted to take a closer look at him. I hope they did.
I think I will enjoy “going to the dogs” as an HSU volunteer!