Every Saturday afternoon, after the volunteers have gone home, after the animals have been fed and the kennels cleaned, as staff attends to the paperwork of another adoption week at the Aiken County Animal Shelter – that’s when Kelly Meyers comes to the shelter. He stops in the lobby and asks Bob Gordon at the front desk, “Who should I take this time?”
The “who” Meyers is referring to is whichever dog in the shelter needs a little help, is a little stressed, and is feeling the effects of too-long at the shelter. Sometimes a dog has been identified; sometimes Kelly just walks through the kennels and picks a dog that looks sad or scared. Once the choice is made, Kelly loads the lucky dog in his car and off they go for a fun-filled weekend. On Monday morning, Kelly returns his canine visitor back to the shelter, happy and relaxed.
Last week the lucky dog was Garrett. “As I write this, says Meyers in his email, “Garrett is laying at my feet. At the shelter, he was barking non-stop for attention. A quick car ride later, some tennis ball tosses in the backyard, and a walk around the block, and he is chilled out!
Says Kathy Jacobs, the FOTAS Program Director: “At first I worried the dogs would be upset when they came back to the shelter, but it’s just the opposite! The break in routine, the chance for extended human attention, and the opportunity to socialize makes all the difference in the world to these dogs. They come back refreshed, a little worn out, and ultimately better adoption prospects.”
Meyers treats his canine guest like his own. He takes them out into the community to give them public exposure. Recently Jacobs ran into Meyers on a Saturday night in the Alley downtown, lounging on a bench with a dog named Raven, showing her off to the public. Raven was basking in the glow of all the attention.
“It kind of choked me up,” says Jacobs, “seeing her so happy.”
The experience also provides staff and volunteers facts that are hard to sort out in a busy shelter: Is the dog housebroken? A barker? Friendly to strangers? All useful information for a potential adopter.
I’ve had dogs all my life,” says Meyers, “but it’s just not possible for me to have one these days because I live alone and travel all week for work. This is a great opportunity for me to get a canine-companion fix—there is something about the unconditional love of a dog that is unmatched in this world. Plus, the satisfaction of helping those dogs overcome the fear of the unknown, such as the inside of a house or a walk down the street, is so rewarding.
If you are a dog-lover but a full-time commitment isn’t possible, a Doggie Day Out or a Doggie Sleepover is a great way to scratch that itch (pardon the pun) and show some deserving dog a really good time. You’ll both be better for it.
Call us and we’ll set you up.
Their lives are in our hands.
— By Joanna D. Samson, FOTAS Vice President
May 1-2: The County Shelter received 45 strays and surrendered pets in the first two days of month.