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Updates & uplifting tales

Walk a mile in my shoes

By Robin Russell

Actually, it’s ¼ mile around the Leslie A. Malone Center Friendship Circle, but after walking it 20 or more times in a day, the miles add up! This isn’t news to DFL dog walking volunteers, but it was quite eye-opening (and feet-tiring) to Jenny Trawick, human resources coordinator. You may remember Jenny as a volunteer services coordinator prior to her current role. She was one of the many employees in the administrative offices called on to work in the operations area during the pandemic. These people had started doing their regular duties at home, but when volunteer shifts were cancelled, it quickly became apparent their support was needed for dog walking and other animal care functions. To find out what that was like, I talked with Jenny in the beautiful Memorial Garden.

Jenny said, “it’ great exercise!” She also learned a lot about the animal care side of shelter life as well as getting to know her co-workers and their responsibilities. What are some of the things she learned? That dog walking volunteers have to know a lot: the names of the kennel spaces, how to properly leash dogs, use the dog walking dash board to read and make notes, prioritize dogs (housebroken, longest stays, behavioral issues) and so much more. “It takes a lot of time and effort to make sure every dog gets outside and walked. All of that work pays off when you get to see a dog’s progress through the shelter during his/her time here and go on to become successful in a new home.”

As well as the personal side of the experience, Jenny knows it will aide her in her HR recruiting function. Now she can better describe animal care, adoptions and behavior positions, having done some of them. A very important trait she said she’ll look for in potential employees is compassion. Of course that’s something by which the Dumb Friends League is guided.

She told me she now better understands the emotions of working or volunteering in a shelter. Did she become attached to any of the dogs she walked? Yes, she admits and said she’s developed more empathy and appreciation for volunteers. Jenny wants us to know, “she is so thankful for our dog walking volunteers who’ve always been here making this happen!”

Jenny, we volunteers want you to know how thankful we are that you and the others were there making it happen when we couldn’t be. It’s great to be part of such a compassionate community.

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