If you or someone you know is interested in enhancing the lives of shelter animals without cleaning cages or walking the strong and often energetic dogs, there are plenty of additional opportunities to volunteer. Even better, you might be able to read that book you’ve been lacking time to dig into at the same time.
Cats are very sensitive creatures and shelter life can take its toll on them rather quickly. Some cats crave lively interaction such as playing with toys you toss to them so they can utilize their natural play/hunting instincts. Other cats simply want some quiet time with someone. The gentle, repetitive strokes of someones hand can go a long way to reduce the stress of a kenneled cat. May cats entering shelters are fearful or shy, and you can help them through this without risking battle wounds in the process. Grab a book and a chair and go to the room where shy cats are held. Sit where they can see you, and just read. Reading your book out loud not only allows you to relax with a good book, but the constant sound of your voice will make them more comfortable with humans. Seeing you and hearing you, without someone reaching into their space, can be very beneficial to shy cats as they learn that something scary doesn’t happen every time a human comes into the room.
If dogs hold your interest, but running or walking with them doesn’t, you can ask the shelter if they have a quiet room, a blanket and a chair. Or, you can even do this outside on a nice day if there is a quiet area with a bench for you to sit on. Some of the jumpiest, highest strung dogs benefit most from this exercise. It is dubbed the Nothing Exercise by dog trainer Sue Sternberg (for more tips from Sue, click here). Sitting in a chair in a quiet spot, lay a blanket on the floor by your feet and shorten the lead so the dog can’t get anywhere. Sit very still and ignore the behavior of the dog completely. Once they settle and lay down, feel free to grab that book or magazine and start reading. In a kennel environment, the dogs rarely sleep well or relax, so this time is well deserved and much needed.
For more ideas on enrichment, please visit our enrichment pages.