Guest Post by Red Curl Gurl and Meredith
Since the early days of her childhood, Shera Beck has always loved dogs and horses. It began with some stuffed animals and continued through the wonder of reading books so it’s no surprise that she chose to blend her passion with her career.
An Animal Behavior College certified dog trainer and member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, Shera recently decided to utilize her skills and become a volunteer for City Dogs Rescue.
“I just moved back to northern Virginia from New York City and wanted to get involved with a rescue in DC to help train homeless dogs to make them more adoptable,” Shera said. “Meredith [City Dogs Rescue Communications Director and Volunteer Coordinator] originally contacted me about a dog who was returned after he was adopted because of separation anxiety." Shera worked with a hound dog she called a "handsome, mellow, sweet guy with a big heart" to overcome his anxiety so he could flourish in his new home. He has since been adopted and continued his training with Shera.
As part of her certification program in New York City, Shera trained shelter dogs basic manners such as walking on a lease, not barking, sit, down and touch. This is an important step for many of the dogs, as some have never had that type of communication before being rescued. She noted that City Dogs Rescue pups have a jump start on others because most of the dogs are fostered which allows them to come out of their shells easier.
“My goal with City Dogs Rescue is to continually train new dogs, help adopt out as many as I can and decrease the number of dogs that are returned to the rescue after adoption.”
Shera said she chose to volunteer for CDR because they are a new rescue organization (formed as a DC non-profit corporation in September 2011) and she wants to help them grow. Meredith originally found Shera on Twitter. This isn’t her first time to volunteer to help homeless dogs. While she was living in NYC, she volunteered at Bideawee where she spent four to six hours a week at the shelter working with shy puppies that weren’t getting adopted.
“I was helping to build the dog’s confidence and make them more comfortable with people and their environment,” she said. “One time, I was working with a 16-week old Shepard puppy who was so frightened of people that she would hide under anything possible, shake uncontrollably and wouldn't take any food. I sat with her for three hours one day while she hid under a bench. I was about 10 feet away and threw a trail of cheese around her, which she ignored for the first hour. Slowly she began to eat the cheese right next to her and then eventually got up to take the cheese that was near her. After another two hours, she came close enough to take the cheese off my leg. It was an amazing moment knowing that she was learning to overcome her fear of people. I was the first person she was starting to trust and she showed me so much hope in that moment. She forever reinforced how important patience and persistence is when dealing with dogs with special needs. I hope to have many moments like these dogs at City Dogs Rescue.”
Shera’s own dog, Breck, suffers from separation anxiety. While dogs that suffer from anxiety will never be fully cured, Shera said they can be managed allowing you and them to live a healthy, happy life.
Through her own business, Pawfect Pups, Shera is developing an exercise boot camp/obedience class, with local personal trainer Karen Krieg of Thank Dog! Boot Camp, where individuals and their dogs can exercise together.
Shera only recently began volunteering for City Dogs Rescue, but everyone including Shera is looking forward to a long and happy relationship with the organization.
“As a trainer, I am always being challenged with new cases that are unlike any other. Volunteering keeps my skills up to par and allows me to see the difference I am making at the same time.”
Shera believes that it’s all the little things that volunteers do that make such an impact on rescue dogs.
“There is no better feeling than knowing you can help make a difference for a dog or puppy that hasn't been so lucky in life. The dogs are so grateful and appreciative for every second they get alone with you,” she said. “ I love seeing pictures of the dogs I have worked with after they get adopted and how spoiled and happy they are in their new homes. It makes every second worth it.“
City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties volunteers.