Daniel Carter

Daniel Carter is a third-year Spanish major at the University. Daniel volunteers with Pet Pals and has three dogs of his own.

Posts from Daniel:

In many of my blog entries I have compared dogs to humans. Realistically, I know that dogs are not humans (if they were, our world would probably be a much nicer place). But just because dogs are not humans does not mean they do not love their families. I learned this the hard way today at the SPCA.

During my volunteer shift I had the privilege of walking one of my favorite puppies, Thatcher. Thatcher has been at the SPCA since he was a newborn puppy and is a beautiful cross between an English foxhound and blue tick foxhound, two of my favorite breeds.

When Thatcher was first brought to the SPCA he came with two adorable siblings. Unfortunately for Thatcher, his more outgoing siblings were adopted almost immediately, leaving the already shy Thatcher all alone in his kennel.

While walking Thatcher today he did not seem to have the same energy I remember when he was with his siblings. All he wanted to do was lay down, be petted, and eat treats. Whenever a dog would walk by or bark he would get excited for about a second and then just lay back down.

Thatcher may only be a dog, a puppy at that, but I am quite certain he missed his family. I don’t care whether it’s a human, a dog, a cat, an elephant, or really any animal for that matter, when they are separated from those that they have spent their entire life with they are going to be sad.

A lot of people say “you only get one family” and while this is true to an extent, I like to think family is what you make it. We all have a basic need to surround ourselves with people or creatures that love us and dogs are no different. It is my sincere belief that this saying does not apply to Thatcher. I think his second family is waiting just around the corner.

Losing a loved one can be one of the hardest experiences any person ever faces. And any pet lover knows that the loss of one’s dog is no different. These past couple of weeks I had the misfortune of losing one of my own dogs, Rev, and a dog I’ve been sitting on a regular basis for the past 4 years, Wiley.

Though my schedule is busier than ever, I knew I had to make an extra effort at the SPCA this week. So I volunteered to take dogs for the day to Trick or Treating on the Lawn with my good friend Taylor Harbin. In memory of Rev, we made sure to take two hound dogs out for the day.

People often laugh at me when I say dogs are healthy for you, but I sincerely believe this is true. I enjoyed seeing people’s faces light up when they saw the dogs; some people rushed over from yards away to play with the two hound dogs, and it made me feel a lot better myself.

Minnie and Piper, the two dogs I walked, were not Rev and nothing would have made me feel better than to hold him one more time. But walking these two dogs made me realize what an impact Rev had on my own life and possibly on theirs.

If it weren’t for him, I may never have started volunteering at the SPCA, I probably would not love hound dogs nearly as much, and Minnie and Piper might not have gotten walked that day. Who knows, maybe one of their future owners was there at Trick or Treating on the Lawn.

I’m not the type to argue about religion, but anyone who says dogs don’t go to heaven would have some convincing to do. For me, a dog can have just as big of an impact and create just as much love in one’s life as a human being can. I thank Rev and Wiley every day for teaching me that lesson.

It felt good to be back at the Charlottesville SPCA after summer, and I wanted to make sure to start off well by walking a good dog (not that they’re not all amazing!). Well, it wasn’t hard to make up my mind because as soon as I walked into the first room of dogs, I spotted a terrier mix that looked just like my grandpa’s old dog Benji. I knew I had to walk him.

The terrier dog, Dutch, was incredibly sweet! But, when I opened his kennel to put him on the leash, I noticed something a little offsetting about him—he was missing one of his ears.

Dutch

I read Dutch’s chart just to make sure he was in okay shape to be walked; apparently, he had lost the ear quite a while ago, but was physically unaffected by it now. So, I leashed Dutch up and took him out to play.

Dutch was friendly as could be and gave kisses just like my old dog, Benji. But there was a big difference between the two: Dutch didn’t like to play. As much as I tried, Dutch just did not want to run around and play. I brought him to the fenced off park, but all he wanted was to lay around and be petted, he wouldn’t even move for a treat.

It was still fun walking Dutch, but his calm demeanor made me realize something: the way you treat a dog can have a huge impact on it. Dutch and Benji were almost the exact same breed of dog, both loved giving kisses, and were sweet as could be. But Benji got to live with a loving and kind master whereas Dutch did not; at least that’s what I imagined from seeing his ear.

It is experiences like these that let me know that my time at the SPCA is worthwhile. The SPCA is giving a second chance to dogs who have been ignored, abused, or just don’t have a home. Working there gives me hope that one day dogs like Dutch will be just as happy and playful as my dog Benji once was.

Today at pet pals I played with the coolest three dogs ever, excluding my own of course. These dogs were all in one cage together, which almost never happens unless three dogs are really friendly and need more than one buddy.

What was strange about my time with these dogs was I didn’t know any of their names. The reason I was able to play with these dogs was because one of my good friends Taylor Harbin, an experienced dog walker, had asked me to play with a group of dogs who were being kept in the back room. They were going to be back there until they lost a little bit of weight and could be walked by regular volunteers.

However, she had never told me what their names were. I never realized how hard it is to play with a bunch of dogs when you don’t know their names, so I made some up.

So for the next hour I played and exercised with “Pistachio”, “Shocko”, and “Clinton”. It was seriously some of the most fun I’ve ever had volunteering at the SPCA.

Clinton the Dog

Eventually my friend Taylor returned and told me the names of the dogs. But when I called them by their real names, they didn’t respond at all. It made me realize that many of the dogs at the SPCA are given names when they get there, in many cases the names they have mean almost nothing to most of these dogs. Nonetheless by the end of our time playing together I felt like these three dogs and I had legitimately bonded. If I didn’t know my parents would kill me for bringing home three more dogs, I would have adopted them then and there.

In one of my previous entries I said I always write down the names of the dogs I walk. That day, I realized it should be less about the long list of dogs I’ve walked and more about the dogs themselves that I’m helping and the extraordinary feeling I get from doing it.

Your Pet Pal,

Dan

Today I assisted a man at the SPCA, who was looking for a dog to adopt and was with his young daughter. When he asked for a recommendation on which dogs I thought would be a good family dog, I pointed out a few of the hound dogs I had walked in the past.

Since I was born, my family has owned four hound dogs and every one of them has been a friendly and loving member of our family, but the man heard this and began laughing, saying to his daughter “You hear that honey.” A dog was barking. “If we adopt a hound that is all we’ll be hearing for the rest of our lives. All hounds do is bark!”

Afterward I decided that I would only walk hounds for the rest of my volunteer shift.

The highlight of that time, was when I walked Goofy, a black and white hound with ears so long he almost trips on them. While walking him, Goofy did not bark a single time. What’s more, he was one of the most well behaved dogs I’ve walked, and he loved just sitting in the park getting petted and eating treats. At the end of the walk he even gave me a friendly lick to show his appreciation.

Goofy the hound

So though it is undeniable that hounds might bark, I think it’s important to remember, so does every other dog! Just like human beings, every dog is different and no dog is perfect. I think any person who plans on adopting a dog needs to really put in the effort to find a dog that will be a life-long friend, and ignore his or her own preconceptions.

Your Pet Pal, Dan

Hero the Dog

Hero the Dog

It’s a pig. It’s a groundhog. No it’s Hero, the mud wrastlin’ dog.

This week I had the mixed fortune of walking a small brown and black beagle named Hero. Like any puppy, Hero was full of endless energy. So, I decided that I should take him to the gated dog park so he didn’t choke himself with the leash.

As soon as I let him into the park he literally flew into the air, hopped half the agility course in the park and then proceeded to roll around in the mud. I couldn’t help but laugh, he was probably one of the most hilarious and fun dogs I had ever walked.

But then Hero decided that he wanted me to play with him… I wasn’t exactly enthused. In fact, at first I was pretty upset. I was covered with mud from head to toe. But Hero was not going to let me get away without playing with him, and after a while, I gave in.

After playing with Hero in the mud for about 30 minutes I realized it was probably time to go inside and walk some of the other dogs. Needless to say the SPCA staff was not thrilled with the mud-covered dog I brought back. But I learned later this week that, despite his messiness, Hero was adopted. Though I am obviously thrilled for him, I will miss him when I visit the SPCA this week.

Honey. Sunny. Leland. Lexi. Pepper. Boozer. Roscoe. Those were the dogs I walked.

They were all super sweet and fun, but I had a special connection with Lexi. When I first saw her in her cage, her ears were flipped back in that goofy way, just like my dogs at home. I knew I had to walk her.

As soon as I opened her cage, she burst out! I swear she was stronger than a Pit Bull. I quickly leashed her before she could cause any problems, and she began to lead me exactly where she wanted to go. We took the most unusual paths: over hills, through parking lots, near cars – nowhere near the designated doggy paths. Lexi was pulling so hard she almost jumped right out in front of a car! But, it turned out she knew exactly what she was doing. Out of the car popped two ladies who instantly started playing with her.

It was odd, but I could tell that Lexi really connected with these two ladies. She immediately stopped pulling me and was perfectly content just sitting with them. When she jumped up, I scolded her, but the ladies replied, “That’s alright, that’s how you know a dog really loves you.”

Though we were only 10 minutes into the walk, Lexi refused to go anywhere but with these two women, and she hastily walked me right back into the SPCA building, making sure she was the first dog in line for them to walk. I don’t know whether she was adopted or not, but after my walk with Lexi no person can ever tell me that dogs don’t have feelings. In some ways, I think Lexi might have been a little smarter than me.

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