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Volunteers prove invaluable to local shelter

April 16th, 2009, 07:41 PM
Newmarket April 15, 2009 06:20 PM

By Amanda Persico

Merlin, with his calloused elbows and golden brown paws, stares out the window and waits for someone to take him home.
The Rottwieler doesn't know the meaning of love and a soft bed.

Twice a week, Linda Weir volunteers with the Ontario SPCA. It's a job that pulls at her heart strings, but the satisfaction of seeing a happy dog is well worth it, she said.

"You can't beat the loyalty of a dog. They love you unconditionally," she said.

Since November, Ms Weir has visited Merlin, one of the shelter's longest-serving residents, to show him she cares.

Merlin shakes a paw, but turns his nose at the doggie treat handed to him. Ms Weir reaches out to pat him and he wags his tail.

"He would rather take the hugs than the cookies," she said.

Ms Weir started volunteering with the Ontario SPCA in the Muskoka area 14 years ago after her golden retriever, Duchess, died.

She adopted another dog, Jennie, returned home from her vacation cottage and started volunteering with the York Region branch, walking and training dogs.

As a volunteer, Ms Weir walks, teaches basic training and plays with the dogs. It's about making them more adoptable.

"If we can change their behaviour and find a loving home, then it's a success," she said. "We want dogs to be comfortable doing what dogs do, playing."

Ms Weir started the buddy-up program to train new volunteers to properly walk dogs and get the dogs comfortable with people.

Over the years, she has worked with some of the more difficult dogs, volunteer co-ordinator Maureen Barclay said.

The shelter "is not a happy place for pets" and the more than 115 dedicated volunteers at the York Region branch, such as Ms Weir, provide relief and care for the animals, she said.

For more information or to volunteer, visit ‚?®


To celebrate national volunteer week, The Era/The Banner want to hear your stories about how a volunteer has improved your life.

Whether you're an individual or agency that couldn't cope without the help of volunteers, tell us your story. Selections will be published in this newspaper and on our website, E-mail your story (500 words or less) to by April 21.

April 16th, 2009, 07:42 PM
I think that Rotti is just beautiful.

:fingerscr:goodvibes: That is find his forever home