The perfect date has four legs and a snout. And maybe adoption papersCat Cowan took Arlo, a rough-and-tumble, 85-pound pit bull-lab mix to a park to play on the edge of the Colorado River and then to Starbucks for a cup filled with whipped cream. (Photo: Courtesy of Cat Cowan)
Cat Cowan took Arlo, a rough-and-tumble, 85-pound pit bull-lab mix to a park to play on the edge of the Colorado River and then to Starbucks for a cup filled with whipped cream.
She’d never seen the dog so happy.
Cat calls Arlo “caffeine in dog form.” At the Humane Society of Yuma, where he lived and she’s a senior animal care specialist, Arlo usually restlessly paced his kennel.
After their outing, Arlo took a nap for the first time.
If Arlo could go on an outing, any of the dogs in the shelter could, Cat decided.Pukka the dog hanging out with Marines from nearby base. (Photo: Courtesy of Cat Cowan)
She signed the shelter up for Mutual Rescue’s Doggy Day Out program, which has volunteers take dogs from local shelters on outings to reduce stress for the animals as they wait for homes.
In 10 months since then, 85 dogs in Yuma have gone on 210 field trips to parks, hiking, and dog-friendly restaurants and stores.
Volunteers are given a tote bag with treats, waste bags and a water bowl. Dogs wear a collar and a neon yellow leash and harness that say, “Adopt me.”
Off-duty Marines from the nearby base take dogs for runs. Others want dogs for snuggling on the couch and watching Netflix.Volunteer Amber took Katie the dog to the park and tractor supply store. Katie loved watching kids play and getting belly rubs. (Photo: Courtesy of Cat Cowan)
Often, the volunteers aren’t allowed to have dogs in their rental homes. Or they’re not sure if they’re ready to commit.
“They’re able to get their fill of dog love and help us out at the same time,” Cat said.
People take pictures on their outings and post them on social media, spreading the word about dogs available for adoption.
The dogs — and people — come back happy and exhausted. Afterward, the dogs are easier to handle, better mannered and more eager to interact with people.
“They want companionship and love,” Cat said.
The volunteers, too.Volunteer Sonja took Sugar the dog to the nearby Colorado River to play. (Photo: Courtesy of Cat Cowan)
After each outing, volunteers fill out a report card about what they did, and about how the dog behaved and performed on the leash.
So far, 22 volunteers have skipped the report cards and filled out adoption papers instead.