Catch up with Merseyside volunteers, Helen and John as they reach the end of their first year of volunteering with the centre.
I did my Animal First Aid course; it was fun putting a bandage on cuddly toy animals and imagining that our dogs were going to remain still for me to bandage their leg. However, it is a comforting thought that if the worst happened, I would have basic knowledge of the best actions to take.
Snoop and Bryn visited the centre to say hello. We’ve had them for five months at this point and it’s as though they have always been a part of our life. Many of the staff came over to say hello; Georgina, the Centre Manager, was in the car park and remarked how well they looked. We really felt quite humbled by this, as it is impossible to imagine that they would have looked any different, but then we did not see them on their first day in the centre, which coincidentally was on John’s birthday in February.
The following week we tried our hand at agility. I have so much respect for those folk and dogs who do this especially after having had a go myself. Michelle brought Jaz her 10 year old collie and Clare had Zack her 18 month old staffie. Everyone had an attempt at each piece of equipment. The aim was to show us the art of safely teaching a dog agility. Unfortunately the weather has taken a turn for the worse and we have not had the opportunity to put this into practice as of yet. I look forward to the spring when my training will be able to give some of the dogs something different to do.
We had a lovely evening out at the volunteer’s Christmas meal and it’s been brilliant to meet like-minded people who love and care for our canine companions as much as we do. It was also rather strange to see these folk in clothes, other than those they wear to go out dog walking!
So, here we are at Christmas 2010. My Christmas morning consisted of walking Snoop and Bryn in the local park, and both loved running around in all the snow. After breakfast at home with John, we celebrated by helping at the centre. Of course my first visit was to see Jacob to give him his Christmas cracker from Snoop and Bryn.
I collected Jacob, met with John and Kevin (another volunteer who fell in love and adopted Paddy) and we all went off site around the park. Afterwards I went over to block 3 to give Barry a hand. What a perfect Christmas morning… roll on next Christmas!
We are now nearing the end of our first year journey and if I look back and ask myself what I wanted to achieve from voluntary work, I don’t think I really knew at the start. However, what I did know was that we had some spare time, a little knowledge and a lot of love for dogs.
What have we achieved from voluntary work:
• A sense of fulfilment
• Unconditional love and devotion from the dogs when they learn to trust you
• New friends – both staff and other volunteers
• Being able to put life’s challenges into perspective
• Lots of walking out in the open air is better than any gym – and is also absolutely free!
• The opportunity to gain continued personal development
• An excuse not to do the housework (!)
• But most of all, two very loyal companions – Snoop and Bryn
I have mentioned a few of the staff, but I really need to say a huge THANK YOU to all of them for being helpful and friendly, making us feel very welcome and a valued part of the team.
There are some people who will never understand why we want to do this yet so many people think volunteers are wonderful. The secret is anyone can do it, I just wish I had known this sooner!
If you would like to volunteer with your local centre, please visit our website for information.
Read part 1: http://bit.ly/DT_Vol1
Read part 2: http://bit.ly/DT_Vol2