Two Sundays ago, I took my 16 year old son along while I volunteered at my local greyhound kennel. He hung out in my car, which I strategically positioned next to the turnout fence so he could see every greyhound I brought out for some fresh air, scritches, and potty break. I was happily surprised to see him paying less and less attention to his electronic gadget, and more attention to each grey who trotted over to the car to investigate this new human. One particular girl was very interested in my son; it seemed she’d rather bask in his attention than sniff around the yard.
On the way home, I was peppered with questions about how turnout worked, how many dogs were in the kennel, and what the requirements were to volunteer. Luckily, my kennel’s age requirement for volunteers is 16. Additionally, my son’s high school awards graduation cords for those students providing 100 hours of community service between 8th grade and their senior year. Put those two together, along with my son’s love for greyhounds, and I was not at all surprised when he told me that he wanted to volunteer for turnouts.
This past Sunday was his first day. I had the pleasure of training him. The smile on his face as he interacted with the pups waiting for their forever homes was priceless, and the mother-son bonding was pretty special, too. If it were up to him, he would bring every single one of them home with us.
In today’s busy world, with so many things distracting us from living in the moment and appreciating life, I am grateful that my son offered to spend a portion of his time with loving pups that thrive on human interaction. I think encouraging our kids to put themselves out there, to give back and appreciate the moment, is part of what is missing in our society. Everywhere I turn, I see a generation of entitlement borne out of products and programs fostering instant gratification, and people with their heads so entrenched in technology that they miss the beauty that surrounds them.
I am grateful that my son, for at least a little part of his week, will spend his time interacting with these beautiful creatures, making them feel loved, and reaping the benefit of volunteering in the process.
Please be a good human, and give some of your time to volunteer. Even if you cannot volunteer, contact your local shelter and find out what supplies they need to help the kennel run on a daily basis. The return on investment is immeasurable.