Dog Volunteers: Have You Considered It?
Does your pooch smile and wag when he meets someone new? Is everyone a friend, canine or human? Is basic or even advanced obedience something your dog can bark about? If you have some time in your schedule and a happy, well-behaved canine by your side, you can work together to make the world a better place.
Like volunteer opportunities for humans, canine volunteers (as well as cats) are becoming increasingly popular in our society. Dog owners are more involved than ever in both their pets’ lives and the world around them. Society today is much more accepting of animal involvement.
With an ever-growing list of ways that you can volunteer your dog, there’s always something you and Fido can do to give back. There are people in all corners of the world that could use a snuggle or lick to brighten their day.
If your four-legged friend is well mannered, patient, and accepting of other dogs, consider fostering a dog that needs help in the socialization area. Many dogs come from homes where they’re the only pet, and though they may interact well with people, can’t figure out how to behave around other animals.
With Fido’s help (and yours, of course), you can help improve a pooch’s chances of moving into a loving home simply by allowing them the time and space to become familiar with proper behavior around other dogs. There are lots of multi-dog homes that would be happy to take on another mouth to feed but are wary of dogs who don’t know how to act around others.
Your time and dedication to inviting a foster dog into your life can improve his chances exponentially of finding his forever-home. There are dogs available at all ages, too, so whether you want to breathe deep of the puppy breath or maybe your dog is a bit older and prefers a friend with a more sedate pace, there are plenty to choose from.
Do you like to take FiFi out for a little exercise with you? Try getting involved in charity work with her. There are events taking place around the world that invite you and your pooch to participate. Depending on where your passion lies, you can help raise money for animals in need, human benefit organizations, or research for your favorite groups.
This might be a good time to prep for a charity race. Most events allow well-mannered tag-alongs to attend. You can both benefit as you’re helping others. Many of these events offer T-shirts, goody bags, coupons, and sometimes even raffle drawings.
Do you love to take your buddy out to run cross country? Try canicross (canine cross country), where you harness your dog to your body and run as a team. Is skiing part of your exercise regime? Try skijoring, where your fabulous four-legged friend can pull you along on your skis. Or bikjoring. You guessed it: the dog pulls you on your bike. These events are growing more in popularity in many areas and can use the help of you and your pooch to raise money for other organizations.
Donating canine blood can help save other dogs’ lives. During delicate surgeries, due to accident, injury or illness, there are times when dogs need blood, too.
Allowing your pet to give blood could possibly save the life of another in its most desperate time of need. You can learn more about this by contacting your local veterinarian.
Search and Rescue
Are you the first to offer help in an emergency? How about Fido? Does he have a nose that never stops? Maybe swims until well after you’re exhausted? Consider pairing up for a local Search and Rescue (SAR) squad.
There are training programs available that can help you and Fido hone the skills that come naturally to him. These skills can help save lives in the face of natural disasters such as tornados, hurricanes, or wilderness events. They also offer assistance with snow or water search and rescue missions.
Dogs with the right temperament, along with their handler, can be trained to locate missing persons or take part in recovery missions. They must be responsive, disciplined, and easily trained. Training starts as a puppy and, once fully trained, they must be certified as a SAR canine.
The term “therapy dog” is pretty broad these days. It can cover anything from visiting private homes or public schools to visiting nursing homes, hospice homes, and even hospitals. If your pooch is a cool cucumber around anyone from small children to the elderly, they might be a good match for the position of a therapy dog.
These dogs must have a gentle and calm demeanor as well as excellent manners. They must not react to sudden or unexpected movements, crying, or sometimes even rough handling. When visiting, the dogs are often handled, and sometimes people aren’t aware they might be a bit rougher than normal. Others might be frail and unable to pet or hold the dog at all but are content to just sit with a hand on Rover’s head.
Therapy dogs are welcome in many nursing homes to visit the ill or infirm, as well as at hospitals where they might visit the patients or even help in physical or mental therapy programs. These amazing animals can offer everything from comfort to physical aid, by just lying beside a patient for snuggles or actually helping someone walk by acting as a brace, guide, or just visual encouragement.
Canine Reading Program
If your dog has an affinity for children, volunteer to have him visit your local school for some quality reading time with the kids. Many dogs enjoy any time spent with children, and with the right temperament, a dog could actually encourage the kids to sit down and read. Children love a non-judgmental audience, so this could be the perfect match.
No matter what type of activity you choose, there is something for everyone—and their dog!