The Healing Power of Walking a Dog

Aug 4, 2022

Every day, Anthony goes over to Peter and Diane’s house to see their Susie.

Anthony and Susie go for a walk, Anthony gives Susie a kiss or two, and he returns her home, making sure to put her leash in the right spot.

Susie is a poodle mix and Anthony is a volunteer with Anderson Humane’s Constant Companions program, which assists people who could use a little extra help caring for their pets. Peter and Diane, an elderly couple who both use walkers to get around, are part of this program – and grateful that this extra help keeps Susie well cared for and in their home.

“They can’t take Susie for long walks anymore,” Anthony said. But he can. “They’re very appreciative. They tell me I don’t have to come every day. But I’m available and live just over a mile from their house. Why not?” It also doesn’t hurt that Anthony thinks Susie is “a little cutie pie.”

While Anthony gives Susie a chance to get out of the house, she gives him something even more valuable in return.

Anthony first started volunteering with Anderson Humane in the 1990s. When he moved to the area, the life-long animal lover researched places to volunteer and discovered that Anderson Humane, then Anderson Animal Shelter, was just five minutes from his house. He started out walking the shelter dogs, then helping with fundraisers and adoption events.

And then his life fell apart. In 2016, his wife died in a motorcycle accident. “It was very traumatic,” Anthony said. He stepped away from volunteering for several years, taking “time to work on my healing,” he said.

About a year ago, he decided it was time to return. He started walking our shelter dogs and assisting with the transport of animals from our source shelters in other states. Those who remembered him from his previous years of volunteering were glad to have him back.

“He is always positive and pleasant to be around,” said Elizabeth Selden, Anderson Humane’s Director of Volunteer Engagement. “He volunteers prior to his shifts and comes at the drop of a hat for last-minute transports. And he provides lots of snacks for the staff!”

True to form, when Anthony heard about the Constant Companions program, he was eager to lend a hand. When he learned about the couple and their dog who needed his help, he knew it was the right fit. Walking Peter and Diane’s poodle mix has been healing for a man who lost his own poodle mix, Tula, just last year. And the dog’s name, Susie – that was also his wife’s name.

“Volunteering with Anderson Humane has been very healing for me,” Anthony said. “Being around animals and the Anderson Humane people, walking, petting, and being around dogs, it’s all therapeutic for me. Everything I give to Anderson Humane, I get back even more.”

Learn how you can secure or become a Constant Companions volunteer

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