An insider look at a dog volunteer’s journey

Natalie Ng

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September 14, 2020

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~ 3 minutes read

I became a volunteer in 2018 at The Right To Live (TRTL) dog shelter, and have been volunteering there ever since. Many people have asked me what it’s like to volunteer at a dog shelter. They wonder about the friendliness of the dogs, what I do to care for them and how the environment is like. Thus, I thought I would pen down my experience as a volunteer in hopes of encouraging animal lovers like yourself to support local shelters!

What kind of dogs do you care for?

Manja and I at Jurong Lake Garden Dog Run ❤️ (*taken before COVID-19)

“Are there any puppies at the shelter?” is a popular question I often receive. It is a misconception that most dogs you will meet at shelters are purebred young pups. They are mostly mongrels (aka Singapore specials), which refer to dogs who are bred on the streets. Singapore specials are commonly rescued from construction sites or sadly, families who have abandoned them. As they are a product of different dog breeds, Singapore specials do not look like purebred dogs. Despite their differences in appearance, they are no different from any other purebred dogs. Every Singapore special that I have met have their unique quirks, just like Manja in the photo above who REALLY loves her belly rubs.

“Dear hooman, rub my belly please… “

What do you do at the shelter?

Toffee giving me paw-fives 😍

TRTL houses over more than 120 dogs. At our shelter, volunteers can walk and bath the dogs. The scope of work for volunteers may vary for different shelters but most shelters primarily need more volunteers to help with walking and bonding. As Singapore specials spend most of their days cooped up in their kennels, they do not get to make many hooman friends. Therefore, they get SUPER excited when they meet volunteers. Like many pet dogs out there, Singapore specials take time to warm up to new faces. The longer you commit, the better they will get to know you. One problem shelters face is finding regular volunteers who would stick around for long. These dogs need to foster a sense of familiarity with humans.

How is the shelter environment like?

Other TRTL volunteers 😎 (*taken before COVID-19)

When I first started, I had to gain the trust of many dogs at the shelter. Dog shelters house many dogs with different temperaments. Due to past experiences, some dogs may take more time to open up than others. Nothing wrong with requiring that extra boost of patience and T.L.C (tender, loving, care) right? What inspired me to continue my volunteer work at the dog shelter was witnessing how much I could brighten a dog’s day. Their smiles, hugs and antics keep me going.

“Not today hooman”

In a nutshell, many shelters in Singapore are looking for passionate helping hands to help care for our beloved Singapore specials. Besides joining volunteering programs, there are other thoughtful ways in which you can support local shelters. You could choose to adopt and not shop for a pet or become a dog sponsor. My volunteering journey has certainly been a fulfilling one, and I hope that it has sparked some inspiration in you to start your journey as well!

* This blog is designed to be a community where pet owners can learn and share. The views expressed in each post are the opinion of the author and not necessarily endorsed by Pawjourr. Always consult your veterinarian for professional advice.

Author: Natalie Ng