Winnipeg Humane Society volunteer Sharon Dyck works with her hands and takes that approach to her volunteer position as a Canine Behaviour Assistant (CBA) in the Dog Enrichment Program (DEP).
A Registered Massage Therapist by trade, Sharon takes her skills to the WHS shelter,exercising and training dogs in the back rooms -dogs that are new to the shelter and that are unsure about what’s happening. Sharon says contact plays a big role in getting these dogs ready for adoption.
“These dogs are just so loving,” she explained, “but they’re a bit scared because now they’re in a new place. Touch can play a vital role for them in this instance. It helps them become assured they’re in a good place and safe.”
Time can be limited to connect with the dogs in the kennels. On the day we spoke, Sharon said she worked with 15 dogs on her three-hour shift. You bring them out one at a time, putting the dogs in adjacent dog runs for exercise, play and human contact. After about three weeks, most dogs are ready to be moved into a room for adoption.
When dogs come to the WHS, Sharon says, the Behaviour team assesses them and notes any quirks or behaviour issues that the volunteers should know about.
Another good source of information, Sharon adds, is the Animal Care team. They can also give valuable information about the likes and dislikes of individual dogs. “It’s important for them to know that the feedback they give us about each of the dogs is important and we put it to good use,” she says.
Ten months ago, Sharon also tried fostering, but became a ‘foster fail’ when she adopted a dog named Repp, an eighteen month, 70-pound (and growing) Malamute/Husky cross. “I just saw the ball of fluff with a cast on his back leg and I couldn’t resist!” she states. What started out as a 6-week commitment of fostering has blossomed into a lifetime of love and companionship. “He is still quite excitable, but once he settles down, I hope to have Repp join the WHS Ambassador Program where dogs visit schools and seniors on behalf of the Humane Society.”, she adds.
Sharon thinks the world of the Behaviour staff and volunteers. “It’s a great working environment,” she says. “Everyone works together so well.” She gives credit to Margaret Krupa and Gabrielle Thiessen who have been great mentors and become good friends, since Sharon started volunteering in 2015. She’s not quite there yet, but Sharon says that when she hits her retirement years, she wants to merge her working and volunteer jobs. She intends to take the required courses to become a Canine Massage Therapist.
Written by: Brian Kozak, Volunteer MVP Writer
Photo by: Jim Harvey, Volunteer MVP Photographer
A group of volunteers founded the Winnipeg Humane Society in 1894 and are vital to our success today! With the help of volunteers, we can provide care, love and attention to our four (and sometimes two) legged friends until they find their forever homes. The MVP (Monthly Volunteer Profile) will recognize the work and get to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs will receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!
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