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Recently, Ryan McDonald adopted a dog, Rocko, from Huntsville Animal Services. Later, he returned with a group of military personnel to volunteer. Ryan’s group played and exercised with the dogs and cleaned kennels and supplies. Read Ryan’s adoption story below.

Story prepared by Jessica Carlton

I am active duty military, and the last decade has been pretty crazy. Moving to Huntsville is the first opportunity I’ve had in the last few years to care for an animal since my last dog, Rowdy, passed in 2014. Anyway, the shelter is close to work and was a little too hard to resist.

The way the shelter is run encourages people to get right in there and meet the dogs and learn their personalities quickly. There were a few dogs that really impressed me. It seems like the population here is great – everything from active dogs to a little more relaxed, all shapes and sizes, all previously vetted and in good health.

I was looking for a young dog with a little experience with people already… and boy did I find him.

Rocko impressed me very quickly. He already knew how to sit, was housebroken and knew there was this thing he was supposed to do with a ball.  The concept of fetch was just a little abstract. He did have a pretty long scar down his back, something happened there….

Anyway, he’s been a great dog, and I am really happy we found each other.

As for the group that came to volunteer, a lot of that is due to how easy it was to interact with the Huntsville Animal Servies staff – Director Dr. Karen Sheppard as well as Will Roberson,Volunteer Program Coordinator. I think I floated the idea of bringing volunteers when I was getting some adoption paperwork done for Rocko, and they were very supportive.

The whole team was extremely easy to work with and took care of the volunteer requirements the evening before (thanks again). And as for the class, well I think army people are generally dog people.

Out of our class of 15 students, 15 of us saw spending some time with adoptable dogs more as an opportunity than work. The majority of the students are here in a hotel away from family for a four-month stretch.

Volunteering at Huntsville Animal Services was an easy idea to get consensus on.