So much has changed, but still there is the delightful consistency of dogs

It has been so many months since I have been able to volunteer with the oldsters at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue that I feel slightly desperate in my reactions when I see dogs on the street. The slightest look from a dog gets an immediate waggle of my fingers! Not gonna lie, there have been more than one person on the other end of the leash who looked embarrassed for me. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. What is important here is that dogs are dogs are dogs, and given how uncertain everyday life is right now, I am grateful for this fact.

So much has changed, but still there is the delightful consistency of dogs

Dogs can be so delightfully consistent! I mean, since this pandemic has us social distancing whenever we’re out and wherever we are, I find myself sitting alone on a bench, either at a park or neighborhood street. It doesn’t happen every time but often, a person out walking their dog will slow near me, either because the dog is interested in the tree nearby or the dog wants to say hi to me! It is usually the typical labradorable type dog, a puppy who would also say hi to the tree, the bench and the mailbox, or the sweet little old dog who can pick out a dog lover in a minute.

image from grouchypuppy.com
The chocolate lab social club of Dolores Park in San Francisco

 

I confess that I have taken to placing myself purposefully in the spots where a dog is likely to walk by during an afternoon break. I can’t help it. It’s a gamble to see what each day brings me but such is life, and if it is simply the chance to have a moments engagement with a happy or tired little pup on their way home, it’s worth it. We all need to find our own forms of self-care. Besides gardening, and walking the city hills, a dose of d-o-g helps my peace of mind. Dogs remind me of all the good that is around us. These loving sentient beings remind me to find joy each day. How something as simple as a soft pet or quick stinky kiss can send a jolt of happiness into your immune system.

So for all of you folks out there who aren’t able to volunteer with dogs, or have a dog, don’t be afraid to search out the ones living around you right now. Walk over to your dog park and see what happens. Try a bench. Give yourself permission to sit and rest, and be open to the opportunity of an offer of a fluffy head or maybe just a slow walk by with a knowing wink (yes, I’ve gotten those too!). We’re all in this together.

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Helping dogs get another chance at a forever family, one step and flight at a time

Pilots N Paws is a wonderful nonprofit. Their volunteer pilots and plane owners assist specific rescues and shelters, sometimes flying animals directly to adopters waiting to be united with their new pup. They take to the skies to give adorable adoptable dogs a second chance at a forever home.

 

Giving a dog another chance at a happy life is one of the reasons I support Muttville Senior Dog Rescue and volunteer with them. I believe that dogs offer us humans another chance to show kindness, do good, be humane, and demonstrate the best of humankind towards animals. This is how both sides demonstrate the animal-human bond. Whenever I have offered the sweet older dogs compassion at Muttville, they have generously offered me affection and gratitude in return.

Image from grouchypuppy.com

 

The world needs our positive influence, our empathy can heal. When we have a compassionate response to those in need, the world notices.

 

Learn more:

Pilots N Paws:

Pilots N Paws® is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our site is intended to be a meeting place for volunteers engaged in the valuable services of rescuing, sheltering and adopting animals, and volunteer pilots and plane owners willing to assist with animal transportation. The intent of Pilots N Paws is to provide an environment in which volunteers can come together and arrange or schedule rescue flights, overnight foster care or shelter, and all other related activities.

Through the Pilots N Paws discussion board, volunteers can exchange information regarding animal transports, coordinate and schedule transports, share rescue stories and recruit volunteers.

Read about more Muttville Senior Dog Rescue 

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Good boy, Moose!! 🎓 Therapy dog gets honorary diploma for his six year career at Virginia Tech

A Virginia Tech staffer (And senior dog!) who has spent a career serving and supporting the university community was recently recognized in a special commencement ceremony during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Moose, an 8-year-old therapy dog at Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center, received an honorary doctorate in veterinary medicine Friday evening, May 15 as part of virtual commencement exercises. It’s the latest recognition for the pawsome member of Hokie Nation.

Moose therapy dog

Like the Hokies he helps, Moose has had a challenging few months. Just a week after his birthday in February (his 64th, in human years), the Labrador Retriever was diagnosed with prostate cancer and began a treatment regimen of radiation, chemotherapy, and other therapies.

His treatment has been managed by providers at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, a joint venture of Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland at College Park. Moose was cared for and housed by a Virginia Tech veterinary student earlier this year while receiving radiation treatments at a private veterinary specialist in Richmond.

Moose, who came to Virginia Tech in 2014, is now one of four dogs at the counseling center who serve as working therapy animals and ambassadors for mental health awareness.

Trent Davis with Moose

Trent Davis, the coordinator of animal-assisted therapy and a counselor at the center, credited Veterinary Teaching Hospital staff for providing Moose with excellent care. Moose continues to receive chemotherapy and has been given a pawsitive prognosis.

“ They’re wonderful, amazing people,” Davis said of the veterinary staff.

Moose has returned to work with canine colleague Derek, who is also owned and cared for by Davis. Virginia Tech’s team of therapy dogs is rounded out by Carson and Wagner, whose humans are also staff members at the counseling center.

Moose has aided in more than 7,500 counseling sessions and over 500 outreach events in his six years at Virginia Tech. He was honored in 2019 with the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Hero Award. When not working, he enjoys swimming, playing tug of war, and perhaps most of all, eating.

The Virginia Tech therapy dogs can be found on Instagram at @vttherapydogs. 

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Pandemic Stories: When your dog adoption doesn't work out. A fresh life lesson courtesy of a senior dog

What happens if you think you’re ready to adopt a dog, and you do, but days later you return them to the rescue? How do you feel? How do you process what happened? How do you understand that you got through the entire adoption process only to give them back? And, you go through this upsetting and unfamiliar experience during a pandemic that requires social distancing, masks and sheltering at home. That’s an unique twist. This is what happened to me and my husband. 

We had the best dog in the world. We adopted her as adult from the SF SPCA and had the best adoption experience with them. Our new dog lived and flourished in our lives for nine years. She passed away five years ago. My husband was devoted to her and had no interest in getting another dog right away, if ever. After about a year passed, I was ready to be involved with dogs again, so I began volunteering at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. I had loved my time during Cleo’s older years and appreciated all that she had shown me that I wanted to spend time with older dogs more. It has been a great experience going to the doggy loft each week. I am reminded of why I look toward dogs for answers to life’s moments since I was a child. They have provided solace, protection and simply a great distraction in the moment.

image from grouchypuppy.com
My big old girl

It’s no surprise that over the years I bring home stories and photos of the dogs at the Muttville doggy loft to share with my husband. I love sharing their personalities and all that I learned that day about the life of a dog. The stinky kisses and cuddles they share with me are pretty great too. Thanks to Muttville, I have learned so much about what little dogs are about. I’m more aware of their needs, behaviors and fears. Our previous dog had been a large shepherd husky with very different needs, fears and behaviors, plus her enormous size made her a third roommate.

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