Every weekend, Gateway Pet Guardians volunteers make their way to K9 Athletic Club to help some very special pups with training. This is a special time for the shelter dogs. It’s an opportunity to leave the shelter, learn some new tricks, and work on bettering themselves, all while spending time with some of their favorite people on earth!
Training is a big piece of the Shelter Guardian program, which was designed to enhance the lives of animals at our shelter. Volunteers are paired with shelter dogs for socialization, training, enrichment and adoption exposure. Many of the dogs at the shelter rely on training to increase their chances of adoption, so it’s crucial for their well-being. According to Linda Lohaus, “Being a Shelter Guardian is my opportunity to make a difference in one specific dog’s life and in return, I get to feel like I’m a special person to him.” Linda has been a Shelter Guardian for about six months now, and is shelter resident Argos’s special person.
Training is a very special time for Linda and Argos. She says, “Training is very much a time of just bonding with Argos and being around other dogs. It’s usually a class of 3-5 other GPG dogs. We’ll usually work on just a couple of exercises/commands during a class. Currently we are working on Argos sitting before we go through a door together and then waiting for a release to continue through the door. He is an exemplary student!”
But it’s not all about work – they also get to play! When the weather is nice, Linda and Argos like to go to Forest Park. She loves loading him up in the car and driving him to a park about a mile down the road, where they take a leisurely stroll around the park and ball field. Sometimes, you can even find them climbing on picnic tables and playground equipment together. Linda has even played on the slide with Argos!
Linda’s favorite perk of being a Shelter Guardian is just getting a dog out of the shelter, if even for a little bit. “I think it’s important for a dog to experience that time away and I’m honored to do it. Argos LOVES to just get in the car and leave. Many times he will just sprawl out flat on his side in the back seat and (seemingly) go sound asleep. It’s like he takes great comfort in being there. Sometimes I just aimlessly drive around the block numerous times just to give him more time to sleep in the car.”
We cannot thank our Shelter Guardians enough for their commitment to the pups residing at our shelter. Thank you, Linda, for being Argos’s special person, and helping him better himself through training. If you’d like to learn more about our Shelter Guardian program and be an advocate for a shelter dog like Argos, visit www.gatewaypets.com/volunteer and become a shelter volunteer. After 20+ hours of volunteering at our shelter, you are eligible to become a Shelter Guardian and enrich the lives of some very deserving dogs!