PROJECT PUP volunteering is a wonderful activity for you and your dog. By sharing your best friend with others, you can bring so much joy into their lives and you and your pet are spending quality time together. It's a win-win situation!

Qualities That Make a Good Pet Volunteer

1. CALM: A Pet Volunteer should have a gentle, calm nature. Do not confuse this with slowness or inactivity. Small dogs often move quickly, wag their tails with great gusto and yet they have a very gentle touch and stand or sit quietly to be petted or hugged.

2. FRIENDLY: A Pet Volunteer is outgoing and shows a willingness and eagerness to meet new people. The dog should communicate an interest in the person being visited. Any sign of aggression would disqualify a dog as a Pet Volunteer.

3. GOOD CANINE MANNERS: A Pet Volunteer is expected to walk nicely, on a loose leash, at the handler's side. A dog that is pulling at the end of the leash can be a safety hazard as someone can trip over the leash. Although formal obedience training is not required, it is very useful and is extremely good for socialization of the dog with other people and other dogs. The dog should know basic commands such as sit, stay and down. A dog should not jump on people and should not bark on a therapy visit. The Pet Volunteer can be petted on any part of its body and in any manner. The dog must allow its ears, tail, feet and any other part of its body to be touched. Some residents have motor problems and cannot control their muscles so petting can be jerky. The dog must tolerate this.

4. AT LEAST 1 YEAR OLD: A Pet Volunteer is working when it is on a visit. It must have the stamina to do a half-hour to an hour visit. The dog will usually sleep in the car on the way home from a visit because it worked hard. People think that it is great fun for the dog to be petted and "fussed over'' and it is, but it can be stressful at the same time because the dog is experiencing strange equipment and smells, strange people, strange hands reaching for it, and the dog must process all these stimuli. This is particularly true for a new Pet Volunteer. And last, but certainly not least, the dog must be housebroken.

5. CLEAN AND HEALTHY: A Pet Volunteer must have an annual check-up with a vet, for vaccinations of rabies, distemper and parvo, and a negative fecal examination. The dog should be bathed, brushed and nails clipped before going on a visit.