Author Topic: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!  (Read 2824 times)

Sun Hat

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My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« on: June 15, 2019, 06:58:14 AM »
I'd like to propose that walking and playing with dogs at your local shelter to be THE BEST FIRE HOBBY.
It's free
It's altruistic: without volunteers the doggies would otherwise be stick in boring, noisy kennels all day, making them stressed and less adoptable
It's terrific exercise: not only is walking good exercise, but walking an untrained dog that pulls on a leash adds an upper-body strength component
It's mentally stimulating: most of the dogs need training to become more adoptable

I stumbled across this new hobby after the death of my beloved pup when I found that I missed not only him, but the routine that we had. My therapist recommended that I either adopt or volunteer with dogs and let me tell you, she earned those big bucks that day, because walking the shelter dogs has really helped. Half the benefit is mental, from feeling good about helping sad dogs enjoy their day a bit more, and half is because I walk different dogs until I'm quite tired. I'm sure that my fitness will improve significantly with my new hobby.

At the city shelter where I go, you can take dogs out on "doggie dates" for an hour, a day or a week. There's no cost, though they do take a deposit the first time that you do it. They just ask that you take photos of the dogs and do a little write-up to tell potential adopters about how the dog was while you had them. The dogs come back to the shelter more relaxed, socialized and adoptable, while you get to have enjoyed the company of a dog  - presumably at a time when you're not able to adopt.

I'm loving my new hobby of walking shelter dogs, and I hope that some of you fellow FIRE-ees will give it a try.

SKL-HOU

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2019, 06:23:23 PM »
This and fostering dogs will be my FIRE hobby! :)

Evgenia

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2019, 06:52:04 PM »
Thanks for posting this. Our senior rescue dog died last week, after we had just three months with him. We are gutted, of course, but like you, I really miss the routine. Husband is not ready for a new dog yet so this is a GREAT idea. Thank you so much!

AccidentialMustache

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2019, 06:53:44 PM »
We used to foster cats for our local shelter. Not as much exercise... until one escapes and you have to try to track it down in the rest of the house!

Current house isn't well setup to foster cats since there's allergies in the house, but maybe when we retire and likely move we can find one that will be.

Sun Hat

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2019, 07:22:59 AM »
Thanks for posting this. Our senior rescue dog died last week, after we had just three months with him. We are gutted, of course, but like you, I really miss the routine. Husband is not ready for a new dog yet so this is a GREAT idea. Thank you so much!

I'm sorry for your loss - I know how hard it is to lose part of your family. I'm glad that your dog got to enjoy being a loved part of your family during his last months.

One caution for the recently bereaved is that I've found it tough to remember that the shelter dogs don't have the same training or habits as my old dog, so I can't rush in to cuddles or horse around and expect them to know how to play gently. So far, they've all been very good, non-aggressive dogs who're just desperate for love, but I've had to brush up on basic training tips since starting.

For the leash-pullers, I have mini, training-sized treats to give when they walk by my side, and for the arm-chewer who needs to learn to play more gently, I will squeal like an injured puppy when his teeth touch me and give him a toy to chew on when he lets go (the idea being that he has to learn that playing can continue, but only if it's gentle). Don't be put off by my tales of difficult dogs though, I specifically ask the shelter staff for them, and the shelter is strict about not letting the ones with aggression issues go out with volunteers.

FIREstache

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2019, 09:35:29 AM »

Most may be non-aggressive, but I wouldn't want even one of those powerful jawed dogs to take a single bite out of me.

Sun Hat

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2019, 10:10:19 AM »
When a dogs play with one another, they will use their mouths to hold each other. If they've been given the opportunity to play with other dogs as puppies, they will learn how hard is too hard, but a lot of dogs don't get that opportunity, so still hold on too hard as adults.

When biting with the intent to attack or defend themselves, the bite is generally much faster and harder. Normally a person who is familiar with dog body language can read their indications of stress beforehand to defuse the situation before they bite.

It is scary when they put their mouths on you in any way, but play bites don't normally injure. If corrected properly, dogs can be trained to play more gently, which is essential in order for them to become adoptable.

Shelter staff will ALWAYS brief you on a dog's issues before allowing you to interact with them and won't let you around a dog that is past your skill level. I ask for the problem ones, because my intense fear of people makes me good at reading dog body language and sympathetic to their situation. The worst behaviour most volunteer dog walkers will have to deal with is some leash-pulling.

Edited to add: Making super-safe decisions has never been my thing, hence the quote in my tag line. Do what you feel is best for you.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2019, 10:14:37 AM by Sun Hat »

Cookie78

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2019, 10:21:47 AM »
Wonderful! Im glad you like to work with the more difficult dogs. It takes all types. :)

I fostered dogs for awhile, but the ones I had were always super easy to train. The hardest thing I had to deal with was intense fear of people and I ended up adopting her after 2 months. When Im not working a full time job Ill consider fostering more difficult dogs too.

LibrarianFuzz

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2019, 09:36:39 PM »
Related, awesome hobby:

Raise a Guide Dog for the Blind: https://www.guidedogs.com/support-gdb/volunteer/puppy-raising

Raise a Canine Companions for Independence puppy: https://www.cci.org/get-involved/ways-to-volunteer/become-a-volunteer-puppy.html

Be a Canine Companions for Independence Breeder Caretaker: https://www.cci.org/get-involved/ways-to-volunteer/become-a-volunteer-breeder.html

Step37

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2019, 09:50:26 PM »
What a great thing to do! So far I just donate money to shelters/rescues and spoil my own two dogs (but I am not quite retired yet - soon!). I dont know if this is something I could do, but Id be willing to try. I get very sad when I see unwanted dogs up for adoption. Im afraid Id be beyond the legal limit of dogs rather quickly.

happy

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2019, 12:03:59 AM »
What a great idea! I already have 3 dogs, so I'm not likely to go for more doggercise, I'm just posting because it just shows how much fun you can have for free. And if you love dogs, but don't want the cost or the responsibility this is a perfect way to have some dog time!

Firehazard

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2019, 12:33:47 AM »
Thank you for posting this.  I've wanted to volunteer at a shelter for years but my job left me too exhausted to commit to anything.  I FIRE'd a couple months ago and have been decompressing, but would love to do 'doggie dates'.  I have two of my own and they so love to go on adventures, which we do every morning, weather permitting.  Would really enjoy doing that for shelter dogs as well.  I'll be checking out our local shelters to see if any of them have such a program.

Sun Hat

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2019, 07:15:55 AM »
Related, awesome hobby:

Raise a Guide Dog for the Blind: https://www.guidedogs.com/support-gdb/volunteer/puppy-raising

Raise a Canine Companions for Independence puppy: https://www.cci.org/get-involved/ways-to-volunteer/become-a-volunteer-puppy.html

Be a Canine Companions for Independence Breeder Caretaker: https://www.cci.org/get-involved/ways-to-volunteer/become-a-volunteer-breeder.html

Thanks for sharing these! I may look into a program like this when I'm ready to have another dog in my life full-time. By then, I should have learned some additional training skills as well. In addition to the "Doggie Date" program, I've signed up to become a regular volunteer at the city dog shelter, which comes with quite a lot of additional training.


soccerluvof4

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2019, 06:56:12 AM »
We have a lady in our Neighborhood we call the dog walker. She takes in dogs from all over the country and takes care of them till they get placed. She walks them at least 3 times a day and always seems like a different herd and she struggles along. I have talked to her a couple times about adopting a dog and i have to say she seems to be one of the happiest people I have ever met. Doing good in the world and working with animals for the right person can obviously bring alot of joy.

Sun Hat

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2019, 07:42:17 AM »
Thanks for posting this. Our senior rescue dog died last week, after we had just three months with him. We are gutted, of course, but like you, I really miss the routine. Husband is not ready for a new dog yet so this is a GREAT idea. Thank you so much!

I'm sorry for your loss - I know how hard it is to lose part of your family. I'm glad that your dog got to enjoy being a loved part of your family during his last months.

One caution for the recently bereaved is that I've found it tough to remember that the shelter dogs don't have the same training or habits as my old dog, so I can't rush in to cuddles or horse around and expect them to know how to play gently. So far, they've all been very good, non-aggressive dogs who're just desperate for love, but I've had to brush up on basic training tips since starting.

For the leash-pullers, I have mini, training-sized treats to give when they walk by my side, and for the arm-chewer who needs to learn to play more gently, I will squeal like an injured puppy when his teeth touch me and give him a toy to chew on when he lets go (the idea being that he has to learn that playing can continue, but only if it's gentle). Don't be put off by my tales of difficult dogs though, I specifically ask the shelter staff for them, and the shelter is strict about not letting the ones with aggression issues go out with volunteers.

Update: After a bit of practice to adjust my actions and body language, things couldn't be better with the doggos. I'm now volunteering for 5 hrs/day, 5 days/week and couldn't be happier. With lots of cuddles and upwards of 12.5km of walking per day, I leave happy and exhausted, knowing that I've made the day a bit brighter for the dogs. I hope to add another 5km of walks as my fitness and hydration discipline improves.

I've even leveraged some of the skills from my working years to build a spreadsheet to track who has been walked, played with by myself and others to make sure that they all get some love, and to research techniques to address some of the assorted issues that the pups have. I've had to scale back the time I devote to some of my other hobbies, but until I can train my kayaking team to be as adoring and cuddly, they'll just have to settle with seeing me a bit less!

Step37

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2019, 08:07:02 AM »
@Sun Hat, how incredibly generous of you. Obviously you are getting as much out of it as the dogs, but still! Lucky dogs! :)

SKL-HOU

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2019, 11:33:52 AM »
I wanna be exactly like you when i FIRE!

brooklynmoney

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Re: My new super-awesome FIRE hobby!
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2019, 09:03:30 AM »
I used to volunteer to walk dogs every Saturday it was so fun! Definitely looking to foster or volunteer with animals once fired.