Taking care of dogs has been one of my favorite volunteer activities since transitioning into the professional world. Regularly, I would go to the animal shelter on the weekends to play with them.
In early 2018, I returned to the U.S. after traveling to numerous different national parks and parts of South East Asia. During my transitional period from vacationing to working, I used my volunteer experience and skills to be a dog caretaker. In hindsight, my volunteer skills were essential in allowing me to get that job.
The most fun part of my work was playing with the dogs. Amidst the joyful times, there were moments of stress and chaos. These included certain dogs disobeying my command such as not coming to me when I call their name. Other times included them rolling on dirt which forced me to wash them before I drop them off at their house.
1. Unconditional love
During my time taking care of dogs, I have learned many invaluable lessons. The most prominent one is that they give unconditional love.
“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.” – Gilda Radner
To build trusted bonds with the dogs, I demonstrated loving care through time and effort. The amount of time and level of effort varied based on the individual dog’s unique upbringing,
Once our loving relationship has been established, they express excitement and affection towards me by excessively wagging their tails. And sometimes they even make joyful noises and hopping onto me while giving me kisses.
I love spending time with them because they make me feel grounded. That’s because they don’t care about any superficialities and materialism such as the following:
- My societal status
- The amount of money I make or have in the bank
- My job title
- The car I drive
- The type of house I live in
- What kind of partner I have
All they desire is my affection. They want to be with me because I treat them with love and care.
2. Immerse in the Present Moment
As we walk through the dog park, the dogs are constantly aware of their surrounding. They can smell the delicious treats I have in my bait bag or the stinky poops other dogs have left behind.
They’re always focused on the present moment.
I can use this as a way to keep them engaged. To pull them away from any potential danger in the environment, I utilize their motivation for treats. I use the “find it” game where I throw treats in an area to keep them occupied.
Although most dogs are stimulated by food, some are more driven by toys and physical touch. This depends on the pup which I determined over time.
Because their instinctive canine playful nature wants to be active, they like to run around and have fun. At that moment, they’re alive and completely immersed in their activity.
Every day is the same for them; they live in the now. Not distracted by the past nor anxious about the future, they embrace the present moment.
3. Create Your Own Reality
Every one of my dogs had a unique background. Because of this, they all had preferences of dislikes and fears such as the following:
- Large individuals
- People with beard
- Riding in the back of cars
- Certain objects such as skateboards and bicycles
Because their color spectrum is limited to yellow, blue, and gray, they mostly identify objects with shapes. And they compensate with their sense of smell, hearing, taste, and touch.