Doggie day out: Hilde’s excellent adventure

by Joanna D. Samson, FOTAS Vice President

Hilde is a beautiful blonde with golden eyes, an enormous smile and a gigantic heart. She is a big-time favorite among the FOTAS volunteers and the Aiken County Animal Shelter staff – everyone likes to spend a little “me” time with Hilde.

So how is it that Hilde holds the unfortunate distinction of being the longest canine resident at the Shelter? Why hasn’t someone swept up this 50-pound bundle of love and taken her home?

We don’t get it.

Okay, maybe her head’s a little square and her tongue’s a little long–but still, Hilde is one of the sweetest, people-loving dogs we’ve had the good fortune to know, and we’ve known a lot of dogs.
And okay, maybe she needs to be the only dog in the household because she’s seriously picky about other dogs. She bears the evidence of forced breeding, so who can blame her?

But still. Day after day, week after week, potential adopters have walked past Hilde’s kennel without a serious glance, and all that rejection is getting her down.

She gives us her best smile, but her eyes tell a different story. Hilde is sad.

Yes, Hilde needs a home—pronto! But in the meantime, she needs a break. Shelter life is stressful for a dog, and while FOTAS and the County have done a Herculean job of finding the shelter residents homes locally or, if necessary, in other parts of the country, there are always a few dogs like Hilde that need more time to be adopted.

That’s how “Doggie Day Out” at the County Shelter came to be. Based on a program implemented by the Humane Society of Silicone Valley, the idea is for citizen dog-lovers to take a dog from the Shelter for a couple of hours to go for a walk or a ride in the car, something, anything that gives the dog a chance to be normal and to spend quality time with a human.

Not only does the time away improve the dog’s mood (and thus its adoptability), it also gives the dog a chance to be seen around town sporting her “Adopt Me” bandana. Maybe someone will take the hint.

Here’s how it works. Come by or call the Shelter (803-642-1537), or check our Facebook page (FOTAS Aiken) to see if there’s a Shelter resident that needs to get away. If so, come on over, show us your driver’s license and give us some contact information, and we’ll give you a dog on a leash. Just bring the dog back before the Shelter closes at 4:30.

How easy is that?

Hilde is the first resident to take advantage of Doggie Day Out. FOTAS Program Director Kathy Jacobs and FOTAS Board Member and On-Site Program Coordinator Ellie Joos dressed up Hilde in her finest coat and her cutest Adopt Me scarf, and off they went for bacon latte at a hip coffee shop and a little shopping spree in Downtown Aiken.

The outing was a huge success. Hilde rode in the car, made lots of friends, got a few extra treats, and just generally wore herself out. Mission accomplished.

Now, if only that special someone will come and claim her, life would be grand.

Her life is in our hands.