If you want to give back to the community and you have a friendly, outgoing dog, it's possible to pick a noteworthy cause and get you and your pup involved. Volunteering can be the greatest gift you give back to the people who need it most in your town or city. You can make your volunteering experience much more meaningful if you team up with your furry friend. Here are places and ideas to help you choose the right volunteer opportunity with your pet.
Participate in a Trail Cleanup
Volunteering in the outdoors is a great idea if you want to bring your pet along for the experience. One possibility that is often dog-friendly is to participate in a trail cleanup. During the spring and fall months of the year, check out your local area's parks and recreation office to see if there are any trail cleanups scheduled. Then, you can trek along the trail with your dog and some cleanup gear to make the area much nicer for other pups and families throughout the year. Make sure you get your dog a comfortable harness to wear to help you spot and pick up trash and other debris around the park.
Train as a Therapy Pet
If your dog is exceptionally friendly and obedient, you may want to consider starting a therapy training program for your pet. Friendly and gentle dogs can enroll in a dog therapy course to get certified as a therapy pet. The AKC offers an official therapy training program that you can invest in if your dog has the right personality. You and your dog will participate in regular sessions that teach your dog the basics about providing emotional support and therapy. At the end of the training program, your dog must pass a series of tests in order to be officially certified. Being certified as a therapy dog will help you and your pup get access to even more volunteer opportunities.
Your dog can also give back to the canine community if he is robust and healthy. Just like humans, dogs are also in need of blood transfusions from time to time during certain health emergencies or surgeries. Many people don't realize that to fulfill this need for blood, there are various dog blood banks around the country. If you and your dog are willing, you can schedule a time for your pup to donate his blood to one of these banks. Doing so will help ensure another dog gets this important fluid during a time of need. If you choose to have your dog donate, be sure to give him plenty of fluids and rest on the days before and after his donation. Ensure he's ready to donate by putting him a regular vitamin regime several weeks or months before the donation day.
Help Socialize Other Dogs
Dog volunteers are also needed for another special type of dog situation, socialization. Stray dogs and dogs removed from neglectful homes often have trouble adjusting to new owners and may struggle to find a home. Poor social skills are a big part of this, and some dog handlers are trying to improve these behaviors with the help of positive interactions with other friendly dogs. If your dog is friendly and well-adjusted, you can volunteer for dog socialization groups and help a furry pal in need.
Join a Search Operation
Joining a search and rescue operation is another way you can give back to your community with your furry friend. In situations where someone is missing, if your dog has training in search and rescue, you can help canvas the area and look for signs of the missing person. Some search operations rely on pets and their handlers to help fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle. Additionally, for natural disasters, such as tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes or other catastrophes, volunteer teams of dogs and their owners help locate missing people and pets.
Hospitals are another great place to volunteer with your pet if your dog has been trained as a therapy animal. First, make sure you coordinate your visit with the volunteer contact at the hospital to see when your visit can be scheduled and which part of the hospital is most in need. Next, outfit your pup in a special therapy vest to make sure hospital visitors know his special status. Therapy dogs are often brought into pediatric wards of the hospital and other spots to help ease the pain and suffering of a long illness and hospital stay. You and your pet can visit individual rooms and offer warm, furry cuddles to those in need and give them something other than their illness to think about.
Tour a Senior Center
Senior centers and nursing homes are additional spots you and your dog can frequent if you need a place to spread your friendly joy to. Just like the hospital visit, be sure to check with the site coordinator first before simply showing up for a visit. Bedridden seniors and those with limited mobility will appreciate your dog's appearance and give him some friendly snuggles. Many of these seniors may have had to give up their own pets before being placed in the nursing home, so visiting them with a furry pal is something that will surely bring a smile to their faces.
Run a Charity Race
The last type of volunteer opportunity that is perfect for a person and dog is signing up for a charity race. Many outdoor races and marathons allow pets to participate. Check with your local region to see any races coming up that allow dogs. Then, look at how you can raise money or awareness for the charity before the big race day. Take the time to help your pet build up the endurance to last the entire race. Some dogs may need extra paw protection with dog boots during the length of the race.
Spread the joy of your pet's friendly personality and warmth of his love with these fun volunteer opportunities. You and your pet can brighten someone's day with these activities that help give back.
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