Summer of Zuko

Freedom is the term that comes to mind every summer. I teach for 10 months each school year, then have two months in which to pause, plan, and pursue my latest interests whole-heartedly. Within that planning, I choose to volunteer. This summer, I dropped into my local animal shelter and resumed this practice. I was even ready to foster a dog for a couple weeks, just to see how it would go. Then a request was made that would changed my plans.

My nephew came home from out of state with his Dalmatian; then realized the need for a dog sitter. I was willing to give it a try and met Zuko on a Sunday.

A Dalamatian looking up

He walked around the house, did some sniffing, and then we went for a walk. He was bigger than any dog I’d ever owned and reminds me of a king-sized Snoopy.  A sideways turn of his head, reveals both curiosity and cuteness. I agreed to let him stay, on a trial basis.

He returned on Monday with food, toys, a leash, and his kennel. We were off to a good start. He knows his name, is house trained, and goes to the door to “handle his business” in the yard. He reserves his barks for other canines walking by the front bay window. There is also one neighbor who sparks a bark or two. We established a routine and it works.

Dalmatian standing in a window

We visited the vet and he weighs 60 pounds, which is the max weight listed for his breed. He wasn’t a year old yet, at that time. I also discovered he needs a harness during that excursion. He tugged, pulled, and almost drug me toward the other five or so dogs in the waiting area. I think I had a hot flash or two, and broke into a sweat. He received a good bill of health and we left. The ride home was long and drew the attention of other drivers. There aren’t many Dalmatians in Southeastern Michigan.

a Dalmation viewing a picture of a Dalmation in a book

Once we returned “home” I began chronicling his days, afternoons, and nights. He likes chewing rawhide, books, and lint rollers. Any unusual crunching requires an immediate investigation! It’s almost been a month and I realize he’ll be returning to his owner soon. I imagine that it won’t be hard for him to readjust to my nephew. It’ll be different for me, without the patter of my four-legged friend in the morning. I wouldn’t trade this new dog sitting experience for the world. Having a puppy requires responsibility. It’s like having a young child that needs monitoring, house-proofing, patience, and a desire for whimsy. This story is a book in the making. We still have a few days left in which to do it!

Check out this article about helping out at animal shelters if that interests you. Remember to do something new today!

Where do or would you like to volunteer?  I’m always looking for a new way to lend some time! Please share your ideas in the comment section below!

Best to you,

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