(Crystal A. Proxmire, Ferndale 115 News, May 15th, 2012 edition, photos: Michael P. Murray)
When Michael Murray and his son Michael go to the Humane Society each week, the doggies who are up for adoption wag their tales in anticipation. The Murrays are volunteer dog-walkers, a job that helps out the adoption agency and is a lot of fun for the father-son team.
They’ve been volunteering since January of 2011, walking each Sunday morning for a couple of hours.
“My son wants to be a veterinarian. We thought it would be good for him to work with other animals. We looked into volunteer programs and the Humane Society looked like a good place to start,” Michael said. “Michael is only 16, so his volunteer options are limited to dog walking. The dogs we are able to walk are “adoptable” dogs. These are dogs that have been evaluated by others and are ready to be adopted.
“Michael benefits from dog walking at the Humane Society because of the variety of dogs he gets to deal with; not just size, but age and temperament. Michael gets to experience working with German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, and Pit Bulls. We’ve had to deal with excitable puppies and sedate older dogs.
“The number of dogs available to be walked varies each week. There can be as many as fifteen or as few as five, especially if there’s an adoption event at a Pet Smart. We like to make sure the dogs have sufficient time outside, either running around and playing in the pen or going for a walk; we tend to take them out for at least twenty minutes, so we usually walk four to six dogs a week. We aren’t the only volunteers, so the dogs we don’t walk usually get walked by someone else that day.”
The younger Michael is a sophomore at Ferndale High School. He is on the track team and the cross country team. This past season, he and Leo Kopack qualified for State, in addition to the team qualifying. He is also in the National Honor Society. “We take the dogs on walks and play with them. We play with the energetic ones in the pen. The pen is a big open space with some toys for the dogs. We walk the dogs around the property. There is a nice wooded trail in the back and then walk them along the sidewalk,” he said. “I volunteered because I thought it would be a nice experience and I want to help dogs. I want to help the dogs there because some may have been abused or abandoned and not treated right. There was one dog, Jenna, that was returned twice. She was a really nice dog and I was disappointed that she was returned twice.”
The Murrays also have two dogs at home that Michael gets to walk and care for, an elderly Beagle named Lucy and a young Puggle named Bug.
The Humane Society can always use volunteers. In addition to the dog walking, there are events that require help; adoption events, the Mutt March, shot clinics. Volunteers need to go an orientation and then get trained by someone at the facility (there are facilities in Detroit, Rochester Hills, and Westland). The Michigan Humane Society website is http://www.michiganhumane.org. There is a volunteer link on the left that will give you all the info you need to learn how to volunteer.