Friday, May 29, 2009

Wanted: Volunteer opportunity for a girl and her dogs

Last fall, I took Scout through the Canine Good Citizen class in the hopes of having him approved for Lollypop Farm's pet therapy program. I'd hoped to get involved in the Kids Read To Dogs program, where kids with reading problems are paired with a dog that they can read to. Since the dog can't critique or criticize, and really doesn't care how well a child reads, it gives the child a chance to practice reading in a safe environment.

Even though Scout is a well behaved dog and has had training, after the first K9 class, I knew he wouldn't be a good candidate for the program, because they don't always go to the same place every week, and Scout's not great with new situations. Once he's settled in, he's fine, but he wouldn't be of use to anyone in a new environment week after week.

Well, that, and the fact that he failed the test. He's noise sensitive, and the portion of the test where Bob the trainer throws a metal bowl against the wall did him in.

I've been looking for a volunteer opportunity that I can do with my dog - and now dogs. Even though Scout didn't pass the Good Citizen test doesn't mean he's not a good dog. He's anxious and quirky, sure, and he's not the best dog to walk on a leash because he has only one goal in mind: let's get to the park to play ball. But he's also very gentle. This is the dog that won't eat the hamster if she's crawling around the floor; you can put your steak dinner on the floor and walk away and he'll sniff but he won't eat. If someone needed to throw a ball for an hour or so and have the dog return it, Scout's your boy. And I don't know that he still wouldn't be a good Kids Read to Dogs dog; as long as it was the same kid and it wasn't in a place where people were throwing metal bowls against the wall, he'd still be pretty good.

And now I have Bandit, the devil dog. Where Scout is nervous and anxious, Bandit is confident and obedient. His fault? He's a herding dog through and through, so he's prone to nipping heels to get attention. He's also the dog that will eat off your plate while your fork is in your mouth. But at just 5 months old, he'll play, lie down and chew a bone while someone reads, fetch a ball, and he loves to be pet. He's great walking on a leash.

And then there's me. I'm looking for something we can do a couple of hours a week. I'm not picky; I'll serve food, sort clothes, play with kids, do creative writing, sweep floors, give talks on everything from writing to Christian living. But I'd really, really like to find something to do with the dogs. And it doesn't have to be both dogs at the same time.

I guess as I read that, we're a pretty motley crew. But who knows, maybe we're just what your classroom, ministry or organization is looking for? If so, drop me an email at

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