Who looks happier? Me or the dog? It's hard to tell.
Who looks happier? Me or Pretty Girl? It’s hard to tell.

This past Christmas Day, I walked a dog at Pima Animal Care Center’s adoption event. That seems like a simple enough thing for a dog-loving holiday-hater to do, yet I had scores of reservations.

My primary two:

— It would be depressing, and I already have enough reasons to be depressed.

— What if I couldn’t resist adopting a dog?

And here, in a subcategory of the second reservation, I went into the myriad reasons I wasn’t ready, prime among them disloyalty to Frankie and a desire to travel.

Suffice it to say that I’m glad I got over myself. I’m not sure who looks happier in the picture, me or Pretty Girl, the dog I was assigned to walk.

It Cuts Both Ways

I posted my concerns — and how I got over them — on my Will My Dog Hate Me Facebook page and got the following comment: “I had the same feelings and just recently began to volunteer at the local shelter. I know there is a forever home for them and I am just some walks and pets along the way.”

What a wonderful way to look at it, both for the human and the dog. I wasn’t tempted to adopt Pretty Girl; in addition to the fact that I’m not ready to bring any dog into my life, I think I’ll always want a dog small enough to travel with in the cabin of a plane (famous last words, right? I never know where my heart will take me and look how plane travel worked out with Frankie — not!). But I gave a wonderful pup a little love and a little exercise — and was more than rewarded in kind.

This is hardly wordless, but it is Wednesday and the post is far less wordy than usual.

I’m curious: Has anyone else experienced fear of volunteering after the loss of a pet? How did you get past it?

4 thoughts on “Less Wordy Wednesday: Just Some Walks and Pets Along the Way”

  1. Since I was the one who told you about the event and asked you to go with me, I felt it was good for you because it’s less about you and more about the dog which is exactly what you needed — to be out of your own head/distress and walking around a scenic park with a grateful dog at the end of the leash.

    That’s what volunteering does for me. I always get back (in emotional rewards) far more than I give. It’s a boost to my mental health.

    FYI – Another PACC public dog walking happens on Jan. 20 (Martin Luther King Day) but unfortunately I have a doctor’s appointment in the morning that conflicts with the time.

  2. There’s a legitimate risk of unwise attachment after spending significant time with any dog that’s not my own, I think – even if that dog in particular already has a forever home, the thought that ‘dog number 3/pet number 5 wouldn’t be so bad would it?’ can creep up. But then my rational self takes over, advising that likely wouldn’t be smart or fair to any party involved.
    That Facebook comment you got provides a great perspective!

  3. I am so glad you went to the event. You certainly did make Pretty Girl happy. And what’s better than giving a beautiful dog a few moments of bliss? That’s the work of angels.

    Two of my dogs passed in October. I knew I needed time to grieve. I knew I someday wanted another dog. And I knew that fall and early winter was a terrible time to bring a new dog into the house. I was always torn between needing to spend time with dogs and being worried I was going to be tempted to do something foolish.

    It’s ridiculous. I don’t do nearly enough foolish things as it is. Why would I suddenly become irresponsible in thinking of another life?

    I was wondering if you might enjoy short term fosters in the future. It’s one way to get some animal company while still working around your travel schedule. But your heart will tell you what you’re ready for. Just like it told you you were ready for this adoption event.

  4. Hi Edie! Sorry I’m a little late here, but still trying to get caught up with my reading.

    Actually, back when Kissy passed, it never occurred to me to volunteer at the shelter. I was too wrapped up in feeling sorry for myself, I guess. But when I started the externship phase of my dog obedience training instructor course, I was afraid I was going to have to foster a dog. Even though I didn’t have to, I ended up fostering Ducky and then adopting her a few weeks later. For the four years before I started the course, I often tried to tempt my hubby into getting another dog even though we really did agree that 2 dogs were enough. But then, Ducky needed a home with a family that would love her unconditionally. And we needed a dog that would make us get up off our lazy butts more often than we were doing. Plus, I needed a younger dog to practice what I was learning.

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