Amanda and Alec are volunteers who take rescue dogs out on walks. This gives them a break from the kennels and allows the staff to focus more time on dogs that need special training or medical care, as well as ensuring the dogs all get plenty of time with one-to-one attention with people. They've been walking dogs for over a year now and come almost every week to help out - we're so pleased Amanda and Alec enjoy giving their time to help dogs in need and can't thank them enough! Here are some of their thoughts on volunteering...
Alec and Amanda taking Max for a walk
How did you get into volunteering?
"All it took for us was an e-mail to the coordinator and away we went after a simple 10-15 minute orientation.
We take dogs out of the centre for a nice walk around the local park and make sure we stop on the benches along the way to give them lots of extra love and attention on top of what they already get from the amazing staff at the centre. We also take the dogs into the yard and help them practice their commands and play with toys which is difficult to do on walks as we must keep them on a lead so it's always fun to be able to play with them completely without restriction. Often we also get asked to take pictures of new arrivals for use on the website and as a reference for staff."
Why did you want to volunteer?
"We both have a very strong empathy with animals of all shapes and sizes, particularly dogs. Due to circumstances outside of our control at the moment we can't have a pet of our own so we wanted to contribute some of our time to the RSPCA. We believed incorrectly that it would be very difficult to volunteer and were thrilled when we found out just how easy and flexible it can be. The staff at the centre are very friendly and approachable allowing us to contribute whenever we have free time."
What do you enjoy about the role?
"When we first started it was satisfying to simply be able to contribute to such an amazingly selfless organisation such as the RSPCA and to give back to the local community by helping the dogs get the exercise they needed.
Once we had been volunteering for a while we began to bond with the dogs we were walking and inevitably became invested in getting them rehomed. The centre is absolutely amazing and manages to rehome almost all its dogs. It's always a bittersweet moment when dogs we have walked get rehomed as our human instincts kick in and we miss them for entirely selfish reasons but the comfort and satisfaction of seeing them in their new homes and knowing you played a small part in that process instantly replaces it. It is difficult to put into words how much personal satisfaction we both get from being able to be a part of that process."
Kel the Kelpie, and Keeley the Collie
Tell us about a memorable moment during your volunteering
"We spent months over the summer of 2015 walking a gorgeious Border Collie called Keeley and her friend a Kelpie called Kel. Over many walks we both bonded very closely with them and it was always satisfying to see them get excited when they saw us arrive at the centre to take them out for a nice long walk. Our favourite moment was after Kel and Keeley found new homes and we had the opportunity to visit them together a few months after they had settled in. The moment they saw us they went absolutely berzerk and certainly remembered us. It was such a nice confirmation that we had done a good job and that the part we had played they remembered."
What would you tell other people who are looking into volunteering?
"If you're thinking about it; don't hesitate. Do it. It is incredibly rewarding on every level. And if that doesn't convince you then there are many perks which come with being a volunteer such as getting to interact with the puppies and kittens that sometimes come through the doors (although they very quickly find a home!). We have never felt like we were doing the RSPCA a favour by volunteering... we have always considered it an honour and priviledge that they allow us to do what we do. I sometimes can't believe they don't ask us to pay up as we leave!
We would just like to pass on the same sentiment that we give to everyone who stops us on a walk and asks a question which is that the staff at the centre are incredibly approachable and knowledgeable. We have been made to feel so incredibly welcomed by everyone and have been made to feel like a very small part of the team and would like to say a big thank you for being so welcoming and warm!"
Thank you Amanda and Alec!