Junior Humane Association Members
Shake Water and Roll
By Ann Beyke, Director of Program Development
Animal Humane Association of New Mexico
There probably aren't many of us who can truly say we love the smell of a wet dog or having them shake water all over us after an unsolicited bath. But for members of the Junior Humane Association (JHA) at the Animal Humane Association of New Mexico, the summer dog washes held at Three Dog Bakery are considered the highlight of the year.
This popular fun(d)raiser not only gives people an opportunity to relieve themselves of a sometimes daunting task but also allows Junior Humane members to develop their washing skills, in addition to meeting the public and informing them about the organization. And there's something about getting a bath in a little plastic pool that makes it all that much more bearable for the dogs…or is it the fantastic smell of the soap…or maybe it's the feeling of being at a luxury spa. Perhaps our canine companions just know that it's important to cooperate for this hardworking group of young people, who often end up just as wet as they do.
Junior Humane Association started in the fall of 2000, with the idea of providing young people ages 8-18 an opportunity to be a part of the Animal Humane Association. We've always recognized the crucial role pets play in the healthy development of children. Pets provide security, socialization and unconditional affection. In addition, they help in the development of a child's motor skills, anger management and coping abilities. In exchange, children provide pets with love and attention.
This mutually beneficial program for children and shelter animals provides an opportunity for both the children and dogs to learn social skills. Social skills?
Well, just like children are taught appropriate social skills, JHA members have discovered that many of the residents at the shelter have "inappropriate" social skills. This lack of manners may lead to their being brought to the shelter and means that they may be in need of a little "polishing" in order to find a new home.
Enter the Junior Humane Association.
Every Saturday morning at 9AM, a sometimes sleepy crew of youngsters rolls into the shelter. They have the expectation of being part of the solution to the huge problem of unwanted and homeless companion animals in our community. And they are part of the solution. Our shelter animals are sometimes in desperate need of a course in Manners 101, a little grooming, a run, a hug and lots of love. And sometimes a fancy bandana makes them all that much more attractive to a prospective human companion. JHA members are there with their arms and their hearts wide open…and what a difference it makes in the lives of cats and dogs who call the Animal Humane Association shelter their temporary "bed and breakfast."
Junior Humane Association is also about being an ambassador in the community. They talk about the importance of spaying and neutering, caring for our companion animals, and making them a part of our families. And they couldn't be more passionate about it. They talk about it with conviction and pride and first hand knowledge of how people can make a difference.
And making a difference in our community is just what they're doing.
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