Several of the most enjoyable days of my season with MCC have been spent volunteering.  MCC requires a minimum of 10 service hours to be completed by November 4th, the end of our season.  Some crew members venture off to other cities to volunteer in national parks, bike recycle centers, retirement homes, etc.  But, my crew leader Ellie was kind enough to direct me towards the Animal Shelter in Kalispell. 

Check it out:  I acquire service hours while playing with the cutest dogs ever!  My crew members and I have gone a few times now and won’t stop until . . . well, I honestly can’t think of something that could make us stop.  My co-crew member, Alex, and I have already completed our hours, but still return in our free time. 

Just last weekend, Alex and I took two energetic pups to the Jewel Basin to hike Mt. Anaeas.  “We’ll wear them out” I promised, leaving the shelter with Buddy and Charity.  Our new friends have become special favorites.  These two powerhouses are so strong they can hop the eight foot fence outside the shelter, which means they’re hardly walked and can’t be left outside alone.  Full of energy and with high spirits, Alex and I checked the dogs out for the day (you can too!  Visit the shelter or check online for more information) and started hiking around 1pm.  Hours later I found myself literally pulled up the mountain by Charity who was unimpressed with my pace and sweat-soaked shirt.  For a small dog, that girl can book it. 

“I hike every day while intermittently swinging a Pulaski or chainsawing” I found myself grumbling at my soot-colored friend; struggling to justify my inability to keep up.  Indifferent to my ranting, she continued up the ridge to the summit at a startlingly swift rate.  When finally at the top, Charity cocked her head to the side as if to say “where now, friend?”.  I’ll tell you where now:  to the shade with a bottle of water and a view of the Jewel Basin. 

Feeling slightly dejected, I looked out at the landscape and allowed my little friend to frolic with Buddy- all the while secretly hoping she’d wear herself out.  Of course, not the case.

Alex and I switched dogs for the way down.  Buddy was worn out, but we still jogged most the way.  At the bottom, Buddy and I looked up, startled by the sound of someone running, to find Charity happy as ever yanking Alex across the parking lot.  Alex reported hikers shouted “looks like you’re dog is walking you!” as he passed by their blurred outlines, holding on for dear life. 

Back at the shelter before closing time at 6PM, Alex and I said our goodbyes, fed Buddy and Charity treats, and promised to return.  Our conversation while driving home, as always, went back to how thankful we are MCC requires volunteer hours; not only allowing us the chance to get involved but to learn a little more about our community.  We know there are more places to volunteer and don’t want to limit ourselves to just one location.  If we do branch out, though, we’re for sure going to ask to bring our dogs along…


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