Sometimes it takes a dog - or two!
Can dogs Live United? We have certainly seen them dressed in Live United t-shirts on occasion, posed for that great photo op. But can they make a contribution to United Way's goals for a region of healthy people and vibrant communities? Just a few weeks ago, I could not have imagined that a couple of "throw-away" dogs would be adding - in their own, small way - to the health of my family and my neighborhood.
Although my husband and I had talked about adding a dog to our family for more than a year, we had not done anything about it, since we have a rescue cat and were unsure how that would mix. But it seems this dog ownership thing was meant to happen, once I looked into the eyes of one particular canine specimen who seemed to be saying, "I am going home with you. End of story." And it wasn't just that one, beautiful soulful-eyed dog in the crate at the adoption event outside the pet store where we had gone to get something for the cat. He had a companion - a little fur ball of energy - and they were labeled "inseparable, two adoptions for the cost of one."
Jump ahead a few weeks. These two loving adult dogs have moved from "death row" of a kill shelter to a rescue agency and, ultimately, to our house. They now have us walking our neighborhood two miles a day at a minimum. And while this has always been an exercise goal, we have come up short on a regular basis. But no more. Our new routine - and the joy these creatures' open hearts are providing - should help us battle pounds and stave off future health issues.
Other dog owners will relate to a dog's ability to build community. Neighbors who never gave more than a casual wave have become acquaintances and, in some cases, friends. It turns out the woman who helped us the day one of the dogs escaped goes to our church. She has been checking on us and our progress with our new additions. A young dad who brings his two-year-old to the street to pet the dogs has a brother-in-law from my husband's hometown. And, as it turns out that drivers will slow down much more readily for dogs than they will for mere human pedestrians, they add to our safety.
We have even talked about the possibility of having them become therapy dogs, if we can get them to pass the behavior evaluation. They seem like great potential candidates for listening to struggling young readers or visiting hospitals or nursing facilities. Now that would really be a way for these two critters to Live United. Pass the extra-small t-shirts!