Tails from a Volunteer

Barry Rockwell has been a Bideawee volunteer since 2009.

It’s a sunny mild late September afternoon and I’m strolling through the grounds at Bideawee leashed to a large Basset Hound-Lab mix named Otis.  He’s built like a coffee table, low and wide.  Considering his girth we’re moving along at a good pace stopping for only an occasional snuffle. He seems like a sweet ol’ boy and although we’ve only been out together twice, I’m a bit smitten already by his reserved Southern charm (he came from a municipal shelter in Tennessee) and rather absurd anatomy. Part of me, the part that makes volunteering at Bideawee a bit sticky, would just love to help him into the backseat of my car, take him home and install him by the fireplace. Of course, I’ve already taken one dog home this year.

By my accounting I’ve been volunteering at Bideawee over two and a half years now. In that time I’ve cleaned out kennels, washed and folded laundry, attended some fun and interesting classes, filled litter boxes and walked maybe a couple of hundred dogs. And such a variety of dogs --- from four pounds to a hundred and four pounds, all shapes and manner of furriness. Some I’ve only seen once or twice and others I’ve really gotten to know as their tenure at the Adoption Center at Bideawee was significant.

My thoughts go back to Elvis, a Chihauhua-Weimaraner mix, whose sad eyes and meek demeanor always drew me to his kennel. Sadly, Elvis was not comfortable with men, although eager to get out for walks he would slink away from me whenever I approached him with a leash. I would sit by his kennel dangling the leash and a dog biscuit, trying not to frighten him by making any kind of eye contact. I’d give him a try each time I was there. It was slow going but eventually we went out for a stroll. The agreement was we could go out as long as I didn’t look directly at him; a pat or two were reluctantly allowed. I understand he’s found a good home where I suspect he’s feeling much more secure.

There were Razzle and Dazzle, two Pit Bull twins in opposite outfits. As I recall, Razzle was black with white spots and Dazzle was White with black spots. Two of the sweetest, most affectionate dogs you’ll ever meet. There was talk they could be easily trained as therapy dogs. They certainly gave me a new perspective on this undeservedly maligned breed. There was Dolly and the many dogs like her who enjoyed nothing more than chasing a ball at the Dog Park at Bideawee. She bubbled over with excitement whenever a ball was in play. I think I threw my elbow out in an attempt to tire her out. And of course there was Watson, a fur-ball who would have fit in easily at the Westminster Dog Show. For three weeks I wondered why no one had adopted this terrific little guy, such a happy little clown. I clearly enjoyed our time together so much there was talk among the staff that I’d be taking him home. And finally I decided I would --- only to arrive at the Adoption Center at Bideawee with a new collar and leash in hand to find he’d been adopted a half hour earlier. I watched bitter sweetly as he hopped into the back seat of a BMW with two little girls, now a part of their family.

Needless to say, I’ve enjoyed my many hours at Bideawee. Along with all the great dogs and cats there’s an outstanding staff who have never hesitated to answer a question, help me get a harness on an overly-excited pup, or share their doughnuts. And, of course, there are all those other volunteers whose paths I cross frequently --- leashes, mops, poop bags or litter boxes in hand. I’m pleased to have had the time to meet this good crowd with whom I share a common affection for our furry friends.

If you love animals and want to make a difference in their lives I encourage you to join the Bideawee community by calling 866-262-8133 to become a volunteer.

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