I have been working as a dog walker for three years when I was still living in Utrecht and I absolutely loved it! Being outdoors, whether it was sunny, snowy or soaking wet outside, I got lots of energy of being with always excited comrades. My employer would often call me Snow White as she suspected me of skipping through the woods with the dogs, surrounded by chirping birds and other fluffy highly huggable creatures whilst singing my tunes.
With my screen lid face, sitting in an artificial environment while my hair is all static from al the electrical energy around me, I often reminisce of the time I was only sedentary whilst asleep. Being outside and moving is what I want to do again, giving city dogs the time of their lives. So here I go again (she writes while humming the melody of the WhiteSnake song out loud).
But wait a minute, if I’m out there with one or two dogs, why not bring a long a less fortunate friend? Why not take with a dog which has been living in the animal shelter for a while, but has no objections to share his place in the pack with the other dogs? I’ve always had a weakness for shelter animals as most of the time, they didn’t have a say in getting dumped at the center. Like with human homelessness, there’s always a story behind the grimy face. So next time, don’t judge but enquire. With homeless non-human animals it is often the case that people just can’t take care of their animal for financial (or reproductive) reasons anymore or just weren’t ready to take on the responsibility in the first place. And the animal is the little person who’s reaps the benefits of that. Most of the time, people choose a “fresh” puppy over a dog from the shelter, because a puppy can get trained. In my experience the latter is not always true, or less easy than presumed. Furthermore, the saying about old dogs not being able to learn new tricks is also false. And as you can see in this video I made with my PINK! colleagues (when I looked so young and fresh: I tell you, these hours behind a desktop..ugh!), most of the animals in a shelter really crave attention and just a nice place which they can call home.
So I decided to invest some of my own time into picking up a shelter dog on a regular basis to let him play and run free with my “clients”. Depending on the availability of friendly dogs and the proximity of the clients’ caretakers home to the shelter, my aim is to walk a shelter dog at least four times per month of which two times in a pack. This way the shelter dog gets more exposure to other dogs and people, creating a better opportunity for the dog to find a new home.
Then there’s that other issue which always frustrated me during my time as a vet nurse. I often had elderly people visiting the clinic with their much loved pets. Did that frustrate me? Of course not! What was frustrating was that these pets often had seemingly small issues such as being overweight or having knots in their fur. It’s not that the people taking care of the animals didn’t wánt to take better care of their animals, it’s that they often couldn’t give the dog an hour walk per day or see the knots on the cats stomach. And the caretakers of the humans, often didn’t have enough time to take the dog out or were afraid of the kitty who was acting out because her coat was pulling her skin so terribly. That’s why I decided to help out these elderly, who have difficulties with walking their dog at least once a week around the Sloterplas, or polishing Fluffy’s long coat.
So, do you know a sweet little old lady who can use some help with her cats coat or an elderly gentleman who just hasn’t got the legs to walk his canine for hours anymore, let me know and we’ll figure something out.
Oh, and if you want to make a donation to pay for the energy I’m using whilst biking to the animal shelter, that would be great!