Here's Why We Should Volunteer for Jack Russell Terrier

by Lisa Scherer
(Marianna, Pa 15345)

It’s Tuesday afternoon, and I pull up in front of the Washington Area Humane Society. As I reach for the dog snacks and rope toy on my passenger seat, I feel as though I’m about to visit loved ones in prison. Lucky for the dogs, I think to myself as I enter the tan building (an animal shelter), I get to take a few of them out and let them run free for a time.

Straightaway, when looking past the Christmas stockings hung from every dog cage and full with dog treats and toys, I notice that all the dogs, of every breed and size, whether sitting, laying or standing, are quiet.

They look up at me, through eyes speckled with gold, and the moment I speak in the high-pitched tone any animal lover would understand, their ears perk up and they begin jumping at their cages with loud, happy, barks. They know I have come to walk them. The rattling of the chain I carry is a dead giveaway.

Unfortunately, I can only walk four of them. And there are nearly 50! I have just an hour today, which allows each dog fifteen minutes. The remaining dogs, sadly, will have to wait for another dog-walker. And since there’s not a constant flow of volunteer dog-walkers - at least a couple dozen haven’t been walked yesterday- some dogs may be spending another day in their cage without a walk. This is no fault of the workers, of course. Their hard at work with laundry, cleaning, shots, fundraising, adoption, dog and cat bathing, phone calls, feeding, etc., and funds certainly don’t allow for a paid dog-walker.

When my hour is done, I walk past Gypsy, Beauty, and Felix, a few dogs I won’t be able to walk. Beauty, a handsome lab mix, stands strong against the cage with her tail waging quickly, as if I’m going to walk her next; Gypsy, an American-staff mix, tilts her head ever so sweetly as if her pose might sway me to walk her next; and Felix, a hound mix, gives a soul-deep bark as if explaining why he must surely be taken next for a walk. I feel horrible. I have to leave.

I tear up when I pass them; it’s never easy to walk away. I return to my car, praying that other volunteers will come. Mostly, I pray that when I return, most of the dogs have found a good, loving home, and will be like their wolf ancestors and free to run their sprinting legs.

No matter what area our hearts may lead us to volunteer, whether it’s dog walking, helping with the poor, firefighting, etc, I believe that someone, or something, needs our help.

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