There is no such thing as an ugly puppy. Soft, adorable, rambunctious and a bundle of energy.

The problem is I’m not allowed to hold them, or play with them, or interact in any way. I’m not qualified.

I’m only allowed contact with the Level 1A dogs. That’s what happens when you are the newbie on the block.

Athena is ready to be adopted from the Butte Humane Society in Chico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

I just started volunteering at the Butte Humane Society in Chico. The facility is new and amazing, which would be worthy of a story unto itself. I’m there to walk dogs who are ready to be adopted.

Oh, my goodness, what fun. I’ve barely begun, but ready to make this a regular gig. All the online testing was the worst part. But so informative.

When I volunteered to dog walk at the Meyers dog shelter in Lake Tahoe there was no exam. In fact, it was so incredibly low key compared to what I am dealing with here. Here I am told what to wear—jeans, closed-toe shoes, and the volunteer shirt. No requirements in Tahoe. Here I am confined to the property to walk the dog (which is a large space). In Tahoe that wasn’t even possible.

Kae is about to get a big kiss from Ella. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

After being shown the ropes I was allowed to come back on my own. After I log a few hours I’m supposed to schedule a “mentor walk” to make sure I’m doing everything correctly, and have a chance to ask questions. Hours are clocked with an app. After a certain number I can move up the ladder of responsibility where I will be allowed to walk dogs that might have some issues.

Volunteers with many hours are allowed to take dogs off property for the day, and even have them sleep over.

Mom was a bit skeptical of this endeavor of mine. She was worried I’d fall in love with all of them and want to adopt them all. She knows I’m still a bit fragile over the loss of AJ.

I assured her I was just walking them. I’m not looking for another dog. I just want to help and get a dog fix.

It was somewhat funny on my first day flying solo. I forgot to take poop bags with me into the yard. There’s a big bin of them in the room where leashes and harnesses are located, so it’s not like there was a good excuse. This from the woman who is lamenting the fact she has too many plastic bags in her life. I remedied the situation, and ended up taking the whole roll of bags home with me.

It’s a lot different cleaning up after big dogs compared to small and medium ones. I’m just going to leave it at that.

Ajax romps in the grass at the shelter. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

One of the dogs couldn’t wait to get to the yard to go potty and left a deposit in the kennel. I asked an employee if I was supposed to clean it up or if staff would. She told me to. AJ certainly prepped me for cleaning poop off hard surfaces.

It had been a while since I walked a dog that pulled me on the leash. We are supposed to discourage this, and try to get them leash trained. I worried about falling on my face and then being dragged through tall grass that I knew had remnants of fresh dog poop.

Catastrophe and embarrassment were avoided. Amazing what treats will do to get a dog to sit, calm down, and be a good walker. I’d be a bit spastic at first too if I were in a kennel the better part of the day.

In a perfect world I will never walk the same two dogs for long. It will mean they have left the shelter for a true dog’s life.

Go adopt a dog or two. Every town has animals that need a forever home.

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