Volunteering

As long as I can remember, I have always volunteered in some capacity. As a kid, I visited seniors in a local seniors care facility. As a teenager, I coached little kid soccer. As a university student, I tutored elementary school children and volunteered on my university students association. As an adult, I’ve volunteered at many meal services for the less fortunate, I’ve coached little kid soccer and I’ve spent a day with elementary students who were learning about my chosen profession. I’ve also volunteered countless hours in many different capacities within professional organizations.

But, a few years ago I basically stopped all my volunteer activities. In fact, I did this right around the time Little MPB was born. It was a very conscious decision to limit my time away from my son. In the case of community volunteer roles I simply stopped planning new ones. In the case of professional volunteer roles, effective a few weeks before Little MPB was born, I rolled back my involvement and officially resigned from a professional board when my term was up a few months later – all those on the board knew why I was resigning and everyone was very supportive.

This means the last 2 years is the first time in my life that I have not been involved in some sort of volunteer role or two or three.

Honestly, I’ve been feeling the itch to get back involved. I’ve been missing being involved in my community and offering a small helping hand to those who need it or to enable a professional organization to make a difference.

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So, I’ve been keeping an eye open for a new volunteer role. And eventually one was suggested to me. Initially, i just said no without any additional thought. But, then a few months later, it was brought up again. So the second time I took a few months to make an informed decision by investigating the organization and evaluating the time commitment.

Of course, I said yes and effectively agreed to do one more thing with my very limited spare time.

But, there’s a huge caveat with this volunteer role – it is very limited. I may volunteer for 3 hours one month, and none the next. I completely choose my own schedule and can turn down anything that doesn’t fit my schedule. And, there is no long term commitment, I can quit at any time that I choose without causing significant problems for the organization as the organization is built using volunteers like me, who only want to give up little snippets of their time.

And so, more then anything, I hope this role allows me to give back to my community in a meaningful way. My heart and soul could use some warm fuzzies.

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Since today marks 2 weeks since Doodle MPB went to a 2 week Puppy Boot Camp, I think today marks a great day to discuss Doodle MPB.

We’ve been having more and more visits in the last week to start the transition process of bringing her back home.  Which means training Mr. MPB and I on all the things she’s been learning. With this visits we’ve been able to see that she very clearly now understands a lot of great commands – off, down, touch, her name, etc.  But she’s very much a work in progress, which makes sense as she is only 4 months old.  Being a work in progress is means that:

  1. She is still nipping, but barely at all.  The touch cue has been great for her to learn to approach people with her nose and not her teeth.
  2. She is still jumping, but she’s not jumping at us.  Rather she’s jumping next to us and you can see her trying not to jump at all.
  3. She is still barking, but it is limited to when she is overly excited or someone new is approaching and she doesn’t trust them yet.  The level of barking is much more aligned with normal dog barking, not the kind of consistency and volume that will drive us crazy.
  4. She is still having a few pee accidents, but not nearly as many.  They seem to happen when someone stands over her (e.g. to put on a leash), so we are learning to give her a bit more space and approach her in different ways, whenever possible.

Of course, when she visits us, she is clearly excited and she tends to do the first 3 things more then she does at any other time.  So, we are still very concerned that if we bring her home we are going to see the crazy devil dog behaviors return.

And so, while she was supposed to come home today, we decided not to bring her home.

At least note yet.

Instead, Doodle MPB is staying at Puppy Boot Camp for 1 more week.  During this 3rd week we will have basically daily visits.  Which means more practice with what excites her the most – the MPB family.  So hopefully she can continue to use her new skills with us.  And, hopefully we can build our confidence for working with her.

But, what I know for-sure is at the end of this 3rd week, she is coming home as we cannot afford to continue to board and train her until she is a 2 year old, nor do we want to.  But, the training is not going to stop instantly instead once she’s back home, she will still have twice weekly training sessions (eventually dropping to one weekly training session and then to no training sessions at all).

After our family training session at a local park last night, I’m cautiously optimistic.  Maybe even hopeful.  Little MPB played with a mostly polite Doodle MPB without any tears and lots of smiles.  In fact, Doodle MPB returned to the adults when called over distractions. And even more importantly, Doodle MPB simply licked Little MPB, and never bite or jumped on him.

But, I cannot lie.  Even though I firmly believe we are doing everything in our power to make this right for Doodle MPB and for our family, I’m petrified she will revert to her old habits.

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