A light mist dusted my face. It was so cold — barely above freezing. If I were to pick a good day to go walking, it was not this day. But my walking pals didn’t care.
They were eager to head out in the mud and drizzle. Fine. If they were willing to exercise, I should be willing, too. This was one of the rare times they’d be out of their kennels, so these homeless dogs were more than ready to go on a walk, even in the rain. I walked dogs at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter earlier this week as part of my series on volunteering. Walking these pups was an odd mix of fun and sadness. And mud. They were all so happy, friendly and grateful for the short lap around the shelter. But putting them back in their pens was hard each time. I walked the dogs with Gayl Leichner, who’s been volunteering as a dog walker at the shelter for more than a decade. I asked her if she felt overwhelmed by how many homeless animals she sees. Adoption keeps any sadness at bay. "Eventually they go out the door,” she said. "It makes it OK.” There’s little time to be sad while walking dogs. All the pups were happy to sniff, jump, run, meander, pant and twist themselves up in their leashes. Dogs are appreciative animals, and spending a few hours of my afternoon with them made the dreary day seem better. Walking these dogs was just like walking my dogs at home — maybe easier. The only difference was that these dogs were unlucky. But you’d never know that, even walking in the mud and the mist.