Minnesota State University Mankato
Volunteer Opportunity Volunteering is a helpful way to give something back to either your local community, or humanity as a whole. With a little help, you can make the world a little bit better in a big way. Volunteering opportunities range in goals and tasks. My experience with volunteering in the past is very full of days at the thrift shop and helping people at public events when they needed it most. But today I am not going to talk about those experiences, I am going to talk about my experience training dogs to be Seeing Eye dogs for the blind. More specifically, we will look at how I started the opportunity, what I did in volunteering, and the caring, courage, and teamwork it took to do it.
Starting the Process Most times you volunteer, you enter a large and daunting building that may scare you sometimes just to go in. Not with this volunteering story. The company I was working under was called Can-Do Canines. I put in several days’ worth of volunteer hours in a house near Lonsdale, MN. My job was to socialize and do basic training for a litter of puppies that would one day become Seeing Eye dogs. Once they turned 8 weeks old, these pups would be brought to the main facility for Can-Do Canines and trained how to accommodate the blind by some of the finest professional dog trainers. My supervisor was a woman I had known for many years, we will call her Barb for confidentiality. Barb was in charge of managing the schedules and activities to be performed with the litter of puppies, as well as overseeing the way the puppies were being handled and treated with others. I was one of two volunteers, the other being my younger brother, she hired on for the pups because of the bond we had made over the years. We had a very short orientation on how to behave around the puppies, as well as how to handle certain situations with the pups such as fighting with the others aggressively, accidents on the floor, or aggressive behavior towards a person.
My Role When I was first called about this opportunity, I was told that I would be looking after an average litter of puppies so about 3 to 5. But when we saw the mother, we automatically knew we were in way over our heads. She ended up having 12 puppies, all of which lived. After my brother and I both got hired on as, what some people might consider, puppy socializers, we were given quite large tasks. Since there were only 2 of us, we were solely in charge of taking the pups out in public to try and make them friendly to a large variety of things like loud noises in cities, other dogs, children, the list goes on and on. Also my brother and I carried out some of the scheduled things that had to be done with the dogs like bathing, feeding and taking the dogs out to the bathroom. You could almost say for several weeks my brother and I owned these puppies.
Throughout my time with Can-Do Canines, I had a lot of both good and bad experiences. One of the most fun things we ever got to do was play with the puppies. You would walk into the room and there was a wave of puppies that came at you from all angles. They would chew your shoes, the laces, pant legs, shirts, if it was cloth in their reach then they would play with it. There was also a wonderful side to that too, because once they all played for a while they would randomly start falling asleep all over the place in the weirdest of locations. We had one of the puppies tip over a boot and stick his head into it to go to sleep. But along with the good there was the bad. I have a pet peeve of wet sock, but nothing spells out a bad day like having a puppy pee right on your sock. Most of the bad days from that volunteer experience all had something to do with accidents in bad places, especially in shoes. But even with the bad days, my volunteering opportunity there is priceless and unforgettable.
The Fine Details You may think that