Animal Allies volunteers changed their lifestyle to help the community

Dan and Jan Anderson have been walking dogs at Animal Allies Humane Society every Sunday morning for the last three years. Photo Credit: Samantha Bretheim Sloppy kisses full of love and playfulness with instant forgiveness is what Dan Anderson gets from Ceaser, a four year old Doberman Mix.

“Why is he still here?” Dan asks about Ceaser.

Dan and Jan Anderson have been volunteering and caring for the dogs at Animal Allies Humane Society in Duluth, Minn. for almost three years.

The Andersons are both full-time workers with separate shifts, but still make time every Sunday morning for two hours and almost every holiday to come in to the shelter to volunteer. Every Christmas and Thanksgiving when the shelter is short on staff from the holidays, Dan and Jan will be there. Sometimes they will stay a few extra hours just to help out.

Fellow volunteer Connie Larson says the Andersons are there every Sunday.

“Like clockwork,” Larson said.

Jan Anderson hugs Blake, the 5-year-old male Lab mix at Animal Allies in Duluth, Minn. Blake has been at the shelter since October 2010 and is looking for a loving home for his lovable personality. Photo Credit: Samantha Bretheim

The Andersons show up even when it’s 20 below. Larson says sometimes they are the only ones and they walk every dog in the shelter.

Dan and Jan also volunteer to help with events that go on through Subaru, Maurices, and Yonkers.

"It's a way we can give back," said Dan.

Jan bought reusable grocery bags to save plastic; but soon found out Animal Allies needs donations of plastic bags to pick up after the dogs, and immediately switched back.

“If I could feed them, I’d take them all,” Dan said.

With two dogs already at home they still want more. From now on they say that they will always adopt rescued dogs. When dogs are adopted, the Andersons go through the grieving process. Even though they are happy that the dogs went to a good home, they are still sad for the loss of a friend.

Since he started volunteering, Dan has learned so much not just from the experience but also from his wife.  Jan has taught Dan how to be patient with the dogs. He has learned that it is how you raise the dog that matters.

Dan Anderson pets one of his favorite dogs, Ceaser, at Animal Allies in Duluth, Minn. Ceaser is a 4-year-old male Doberman mix. He is very well trained and never barks or jumps up on people. Photo Credit: Samantha Bretheim

“It is nurture not nature,” Dan said. “It’s the Rottweilers, Pitbulls, and Dobermans that are the biggest sweethearts.”

Animal Allies has a great training program for volunteers. Not just anyone can care for the dogs. Dogs are put into three levels of walking, ranging from level one being the easiest and most leash-trained to level three being the most difficult. Dan and Jan are trusted by staff to walk level three dogs. Staff will first inform the Andersons about the dog’s problems, explain what to look for and whether or not the dog needs a harness.

“Doing this is like going in for a shot,” said Dan. “It’s therapeutic. Anyone who has a stressful job, a good way to work that out is to come here and work with the dogs.”

The Anderson’s plan on volunteering until retirement and then working part-time at Animal Allies to keep giving back to the community.

“It is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Jan.

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