By Lee Morris, explore.org volunteer camera-operator
Well, I did it! I finally made it to Service Dog Project to volunteer. I’m an SDP cam op and I’ve been following their cams since they went live in 2012.
SDP is a busy place. The staff and volunteers work hard and yet no one trips over the other. Everyone has a smile on their face and offers kind words to the newbie. During my week there I learned how to clean kennels and runs, pick up poo, brush dogs, give treats, brush donkeys, clean out a stall (even while the donkeys are in it and want attention), fold laundry ‘the correct way’ per the helpful picture cards, feed chickens, sit with a dog that was under the weather and cook ribs for a crowd. None of those things were ever in my resume before my visit and they are on it now! I have so much respect for the people who do this day in and day out.
Surprises? There were many. Walter will not eat treats or go to the bathroom on cement. The guinea hens will not move out of the way of vehicles. Gretchen responds to A Riot’s hand signals from Grace, and most of the dogs listened to me when I told them to stop barking. I talked to new applicants and they were very open and willing to answer my questions. The biggest surprise was that I LOVE donkeys, especially Daisy who I want to adopt and bring home with me.
I worked 7 days straight and came home feeling tired and sad. But I know I will be going back to do it all over again one of these days.
Service Dog Project trains and places Great Danes with people who live with Multiple Sclerosis, Friedreich’s ataxia, and veterans with disabilities.