A member of the CCA team for the last three years, Rob Stelz focuses his time on working with the dogs in our care and helping to work on behavior to improve their adoptability. At the end of the post he features one of his volunteer “pets” – pups on whom he has focused his time recently.
How did you find out about CCA and why did you want to volunteer here?
I found out about CCA from my neighbor, Renee Franklin. At the time she was the Director of Operations at CCA and had mentioned volunteering several times. I adopted my dog Gunner from CCA about five years ago so I was familiar with the organization.
As a CCA volunteer, what is your role?
My primary role at CCA is to spend time with doggies. I often try to concentrate on the more challenging dogs in terms of behavior and do what I can to help with their development and adoptability. Some of the dogs that arrive at CCA have been in bad situations, because of which they sometimes have a fear of people or other animals. I try to make a ‘friend’ connection with a dog so they will trust me and be more open to training. From there it is just a lot of repetition. Our goals for adoptability are being able to properly walk on a leash, no biting/jumping on people, and adherence to basic commands like sit, stay, and release.
I also assist with general duties around the property. I help with hedge trimming, keeping the woods trail clear for walking, and pest control. I also get to work on fun projects like building dog houses. And all of us at CCA participate in the adoption events like Bark in the Park and at Petco.
How do you feel being a CCA volunteer?
Volunteering at CCA is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my life. I’ll admit that my involvement is somewhat selfish in nature; I am there for my gratification, for what makes me happy. Which is to share love and happiness with kind, like-minded beings. I get that from both the dogs and the other volunteers I work with at CCA. I also recognize the need for citizens to give back to their community in one way or another.
What is your favorite CCA moment?
This one is pretty easy for me :-) My favorite CCA moment was the day I saw Chester at Bark in the Park.
Chester was born at CCA and had been there for nearly five years when I arrived. From the day I met him, I could not understand why this wonderful dog did not have a home. He did lack manners and pulled relentlessly when on a leash. However, along with many other volunteers, I worked with Chester for a long time. Eventually, we employed skills we learned from Off-Leash Training, and, within a few weeks, Chester was walking right by his handler’s side at all times!
I brought him home and used that time to teach him how to act. I worked with him for many months to foster his ability to make personal connections. When I saw him with his new owner, just as happy as any other dog there, it immediately brought tears of joy and the deepest gratitude for Chester’s owner. It was without a doubt the proudest moment of my involvement since coming to CCA!
Why would you encourage others to volunteer?
I would encourage those who love dogs or cats to consider CCA as a place to volunteer because, first and foremost, it is a no-kill shelter. CCA is 100% donation funded and about 95% volunteer run. When I leave CCA every week I feel good. I feel…to some degree cleansed, even though I usually leave pretty filthy :-)
I would encourage others to volunteer for the same reason I did: to make you feel better about yourself and your community. The result of that commitment to yourself facilitates the need our society has for services like this.
Why would you encourage someone to adopt a pet from us?
I would encourage anyone who loves animals to adopt a pet from CCA. You can be assured that an animal that has spent time at CCA has been exposed to love, kindness, and affection. You can be sure any animal adopted from CCA has been examined and treated for any and all known species afflictions by caring veterinarians that have donated a good part of their time to help CCA.
You recently adopted a CCA pup yourself! Tell us about Maverick.
Maverick is a rugged, young golden lab mix with a ton of energy. After working with Maverick at the shelter, and consistently wondering “why is he still here?!” my family and I decided to adopt him. His official name is now Maverick St. Patrick Stelz.
He and my little boy are bestest of buddies, especially during mealtimes when Maverick is sure to be at the side of the high chair for every meal. Johnny is very generous with his food and Maverick has become a master of gently extracting the clumsily offered treats from John’s hand.
After a week with us, my wife observed that Maverick had not stopped wagging since he got here! His tail has seldom been still ever since. He is a wonderful dog and a wonderful friend! He has been the perfect addition to our family and we have all fallen in love with him!
If you could share anything else about your volunteer experience at CCA, what would it be?
I would love to take an opportunity to feature one of the dogs I’ve worked with at CCA who I would love to see meet his forever families!
Teddy! I LOVE Teddy!! He is a five-year-old chow mix, and I describe him with the full knowledge that it is impolite to call attention to the imperfections of others. With that said…Teddy is a complete and total goofball! 😊
In all seriousness, Teddy has been diagnosed as having some neurological issues. This affects his balance and seems to also affect his attention span. He is very quick to be “onto the next thing” so training has been challenging. However, he has learned sit, stay, and loose leash walk. We know he is trainable, but he will need consistent reinforcement to maintain good behavior. However, it is important to note that his afflictions DO NOT stop him from trying to be Wonder Dog!
Teddy is a high-energy, sparkplug who is happy to be the life of any party he attends. He is an “up in your business” type of dog, meaning he will be a GREAT yard watch dog! Teddy is not a leader; he is a follower, and he would make a great addition to a small pack of two or three dogs with a strong, tolerant pack leader.
I’ve had Teddy at my house for a couple of week-long spans and he has done great! He seems to be instinctively house broken, and has never had even one accident in my house! If you can get the energy out of him during the day, he is a great couch cuddler! Teddy is my challenge dog of the month. He would be a great friend for years to come in the right environment!