About one year ago, I lost a best friend: my fifteen-and-a-half-year-old beagle named Billy Bob. Being only twenty myself at the time, that meant that I hadn’t been without Billy Bob since I was four. I had no idea how I was going to survive without him when I literally could not remember what my life was like before he was in it. He completed our family, made every Christmas card picture, and warmed his way into the hearts of everyone who met him. He cured me of my fear of dogs the day I met him when he ran right up to me and licked me in the face, and now I am headed towards a career in veterinary medicine. While I miss him dearly and could write about him for pages on end, that is not what this post is about. This post is about other dogs like him. While there will never be a dog exactly like him, there are countless dogs out there who are full of love and special in their own ways. And unfortunately, a good number of them are without a forever home.

There was definitely a hole in my life after I said good-bye to Billy Bob this winter, and it took me a while to figure out how to fill it. At first, I didn’t want to fill it because I needed time to grieve over my loss. But after a while, I knew there had to be something else I could do to help myself move on. The perfect opportunity came to me in the form of CompAnimals Pet Rescue. I had a few friends who told me they were “pen pals” for some of the dogs who lived there. No, they did not send letters back and forth through the mail like your conventional pen pals. But they did have the chance to form a special bond with the dog they were matched with. The relationship starts out by walking the dog a few times around the park directly behind the shelter. As you grow more comfortable with the dog and the dog more so with you, you can take them on short trips away from the shelter to get them out exploring a new area. The ultimate goal is to even bring these dogs to UD’s campus and other places where they can be seen by the public and promote the shelter or even get noticed for adoption. As a broke college student in an apartment that would not allow dogs, this seemed like the best opportunity to get some quality time in with animals requiring some much-needed attention. 

I sent in my application, and a few short days later I was meeting Charles, an incredible survivor dog from the streets of Baltimore! He ended up at CompAnimals after getting hit by a bus, and he did not arrive in the best condition. Missing fur in some places, his skin was rough from his life on the streets. He was not too social after spending so much time on his own, but he was great on a leash, and I fell in love with him instantly. For the next few weeks, I went and visited Charles at the shelter, watching him grow so much in our short time together. Luckily for him, Charles was quickly taken into a foster home, where he still resides, and he looks more amazing every time I see him. His coat is gleaming, and he is all smiles around everyone he meets. It cannot be long now until he finds his forever home.

Since the start of the summer I have now been volunteering at CompAnimals once a week, getting to meet so many animals and see so many of them into new homes. CompAnimals really emphasizes making sure their animals that get adopted stay adopted, working closely with the more difficult dogs to train them and ultimately make the perfect match. I am sad that my schedule does not allow time to continue volunteering next semester, but I look forward to finding a new pen pal! To all my fellow dog-lovers out there, I highly recommend looking into CompAnimals Pet Rescue. They are only ten minutes down the road and are always looking for extra help. There are dogs out there who need love, and they are only ten minutes away from a school of almost twenty thousand students! If we all work together, I think we can make a huge impact on the quality of life for these wonderful animals. Even just one walk goes a long way.

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