My dog Tim passed away in December last year. I miss him very much and needed something to do. Therefore at the beginning of this year I decided to volunteer as a dog walker at Aprop. Shortly after I began walking the dogs at Aprop my wife Jackie also joined as a walker.
At first I volunteered specifically to help the dogs. I love walking and I thought why not combine that with my love of animals by actually walking rescue dogs. I soon realised however that whilst it is possible to keep things simple and just volunteer to walk the dogs, there is a lot more to be enjoyed within the wonderful welcoming Aprop family.
What’s it like at Aprop?
Aprop is a volunteer organisation and the volunteers are multinational and multicultural and above all very welcoming and inclusive. It is a very uplifting experience to be a small part of a dedicated team working on behalf of the dogs and cats in our community.
As well as walking the dogs there are many things to get involved with, such as vet visits, feeding the animals, sitting down just stroking dogs or taking the dogs out to socialise them. Only recently three of us took our beautiful Gloria, a mastin dog to meet some horses to see if she got on with them. Fortunately Gloria behaved perfectly around the horses and as a result she will shortly go to a beautiful new forever home in France and be mixing with horses every day. There are so many interesting and rewarding things to get involved in but only if you want to. There are no expectations of volunteers, you can do as much or as little as you can manage.
Do I have to be super fit to walk the dogs?
At a dog walking session, working as a team, we have around 25 dogs to walk. As mentioned earlier there are no expectations you do what you can manage. If five of us are walking that day we could all walk five dogs each but it doesn’t usually work that way. Firstly some dogs can be walked as pairs which cuts down the number of walks required. Also some walkers are very happy to walk more dogs, nobody is counting. We just work as a team to give the best we can to our dogs. Basically you do as much or as little as you wish. Of course many people start off by walking one or two dogs each visit and find that is enough but six weeks later they might find that walking eight or nine dogs one after the other is not a problem. Yes you do get fitter and stronger.
Will I be able to manage the stronger dogs?
Help, support and advice is abundant at Aprop. We have many dogs that present no challenge whatsoever to walk on a lead. We also have other dogs that can pull a bit. A quick chat with any of the volunteers will soon see you walking along happily with a dog that is suited to your needs.
How often do I have to turn up and is there a commitment to be made?
As a volunteer dog walker you can come and walk the dogs as often as you wish. Many of our volunteers will come in for one or two mornings per week. Some do more, some do less. The key thing to remember is when you come in, you not only help the dogs, you also help the other volunteers. As regards making a commitment. It is helpful if a volunteer commits to come in on a certain day or days each week. For example my wife and I go in on Thursday mornings every week. This helps because Richard who coordinates our walkers can see at a glance where deficiencies are. For example if someone is on holiday he can ask if others can cover. On such occasions myself and my wife will go in to cover the shortfall. Teamwork is what makes it all work.
I’m interested, how can I become a dog walker?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone 654 61 60 43
Or call in to see us, come along with a friend or if you know someone who volunteers at Aprop come along with them.