Lately I've been searching for a cause, something I can wholeheartedly and selflessly support. Okay, so maybe it's not entirely selfless - I am, after all, an admitted narcissist, so in a way I need volunteer work as much as volunteer work needs me. But I do need to support my cause unequivocally; as a Libra, my innate need to weigh every option dictates this.
Because I am fascinated by the critters of this world (and because going to veterinary school would cost literally more than my life is worth, which according to my own calculations is approximately the same as a bottle of mid-quality Shiraz), volunteering at an animal shelter seemed a natural choice.
And as though fated, last week my friend L. sent me an e-mail from a group of volunteers who run with dogs at The Pet Connection, a no-kill shelter in Mission, Kansas. And because a calm dog is more likely to be adopted than a rowdy, holy-shit-it's-people, I'm-gonna-lick-your-face-now dog, the volunteers perform a valuable service by wearing the dogs out.
The only catch: the runs start at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings, a time I normally like to call "comatose." But, I have to remind myself, this isn't about you. Unlike a hungover state, which I have determined is the most self-centered state of existence possible (I need food; I need Advil; I need water; I need an intravenous saline drip), this is all about the dogs.
So I arrived at Mission Pet Connection at 9 a.m. sharp, chugging a nonfat pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks before stepping out to meet Devon, the sweet fella I'd be taking for a walk.
A mild-mannered pup who looked to be somewhere between German shepherd and corgi, Devon was eager to hit the pavement. The volunteer coordinator explained the route, and then we were off.
Admittedly I hadn't known what to expect - I showed up with my hair down wearing jean shorts and my worn-the-fuck-out eight-year-old Chucks - but I quickly got the rhythm down and discovered that running with a dog is borderline freaking joyous. At stoplights, Devon would jump up, put his paws on my chest and lick my arm while I called him a good buddy and scratched his ears.
After spending 14 years of my life with Eddie, Jack Russell Terrier extraordinaire, I would love to have a little terrier of my own, but my small, yardless Midtown apartment and strange hours would be unfair to such a wonderful creature. Perhaps someday I will be able to afford a little house with a little yard for a little dog.
But in the meantime, running with the dogs on Saturday mornings is a happy middle ground.
Side note: My other mega-cause is marriage equality, so hopefully I'll find a meaningful way to support that goal as well. Because goddammit, I find its detractors just infuriatingly wrong and stupid, and thusly my Libran nature is satisfied.