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Dog Blog

Get Me Out Of Here

This particular post has 'gone to the dogs'. And we mean literally. There is absolutely nothing bad or wrong here, we just realize this has very little to do with bikes and everything to do with dogs! Some might call this our auxiliary mission.

At the beginning of this year Bikes for the World implemented our first ever Foster Shop Dog program. That maybe sounds more important than it really is, or is it?? It's like when we say our warehouse in Rockville is the World Headquarters of Bikes for the World...because all 12,000 of our annually donated bikes come in and out of these doors- it sounds important, because it is!

The Foster Shop Dog program, because our supporters have asked how it works, is really just Yvette, who is a volunteer at Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center (MCASAC) bringing dogs to the warehouse or sometimes home to stay for a bit. But it takes a village, or in this case a warehouse, to love and care for our pups. 

MCASAC has a program they refer to as a Lucky Break. What that means is, a volunteer is able to sign out a dog for an hour or two to give them a break from the shelter. It may be a dog that has had an extended stay at the shelter and really just needs to get out, or a new dog that the staff doesn't know a lot about, or maybe a dog with anxiety made worse by all the activity in the shelter. 

You don't have to look far (just check our staff bio page photos) to learn that everyone at Bikes for the World is an animal lover. Oddly enough, it's the guys who are the dog people, Yvette leans more toward cats. "It was really just cheaper than physical therapy. The work in the warehouse is strenuous and I've been fighting back from a knee injury for years. Getting out to walk helps me feel better and I'm way more motivated with a dog; the shelter seemed like a great place to hang out," says Yvette.

So she started hiking with the dogs from the shelter. They got some quiet time away from the other dogs, explored new smells, and bonded with new people. We got to know more about the dogs, which is important information for MCASAC staff, volunteers, and future adopters. We also have oodles of photos to share of our adventures, which often show the dogs' true selves better than how they present in their kennels. And Yvette has warmed up to dogs a little more- I mean have you tried to walk a cat on a leash??

Since Todd and Taylor LOVE dogs, Yvette started bringing some of the dogs to work to hang out. It was helpful to see how they interacted with other people, including volunteers who are sometimes in the warehouse. We also have a pretty big space, so we can let them off leash to run around and chase balls and eat peanut butter with Todd. 

It wasn't long before some of the dogs started following Yvette home. Over the past year we've officially fostered three dogs and a couple others have had sleepovers. Since there are two cats at home, this means that the fosters get to come to work and be honorary Shop Dogs for the stay. A big shout out to Parker and Sherwyn B. Kauffman, Yvette's two cats. They have been huge troopers as they've been used as tester cats, to see how some of the dogs do with cats- vital information for some potential adopters.

We also get the dogs used to bikes, moving wheels, and strangers in weird clothes and helmets. We are next to the train tracks, so they get to experience loud noises, sometimes even from the work we do in the shop. If you've been to the warehouse you know the bike debris that exists all over the floor- and not one dog even tried to eat anything that wasn't food (at least off the floor, Beauty gnawed on a few bike parts). Most importantly we get to love on the dogs during the day; it's great for our morale and puts smiles on everyone's faces. Todd gets super sad when he rounds the corner and there's no dog :(

Here's the coolest part about two of the dogs we fostered...they were adopted by Bikes for the World volunteers! So yeah, we can share photos on social media sites to give the dogs more visibility, but in these two cases, the volunteers actually got to meet their dogs during BfW activities. Sometimes a new owner prefers a dog that has been fostered...they learn more about the dogs and get a chance to meet them outside the shelter, which as we mentioned is a huge thing for some dogs.

Having the dogs visit also invites a conversation about adopting over shopping for a dog. We've debunked many rumors about adopting dogs, like it's hard or expensive. Neither is the case through MCASAC. Most dogs are less than $100 to adopt, which basically covers the vet care (shots and surgery)...and often they offer free adoptions! And besides a short application process, there's no invasive home visits...it's quick and painless. And just for the record, fostering is a great way to get involved and help save lives. We dare you to give it a try!

When a Bike is More Than a Bike
Featured Volunteer: Maika Walker