Shelter Dogs Go On Sweet Daytime Dates With “Longtimer’s Lunch Club”

The other day, SPCA of Brazoria County volunteer Ashlee Williams picked up a shelter dog to come along on her afternoon errands.

Gina went with Williams to Lowe’s and Hobby Lobby. She was a dream in the car, a joy on the leash, a pleasure in the stores, a total ham with everyone she met — and relieved for a break from her kennel, out in the world.

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Williams documented the whole outing, and posted the photos the Facebook — a little come-on both for Gina, who was looking for home, and for the shelter, which is looking for more volunteers to take dogs out on daytime adventures as part of a new program they’re calling the “Longtimer’s Lunch Club.”

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The Longtimer’s Lunch Club got started in early August, after staff at this Texas shelter learned about a similar program in Northern Virginia.

“It’s about getting the dogs out of the shelter for a break and spoiling them a little bit,” says SPCA of Brazoria County executive director Stacey Allen Suazo.

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Here’s how it works: experienced volunteers sign up to take dogs who’ve been in the shelter for a while out on expeditions — like visiting dog-friendly stores, playing on the beach, eating a burger, and other such fun.

Volunteers are asked to commit to two such outings per month, and they’ve got to take photos and notes to post on social media.

The program serves a number of purposes.

One is to be fun for the dogs, giving some relief from a stressful shelter environment and helping them get more socialized.

Another is helping staff and volunteers get to know the dogs’ personalities well, so they’ll be matched to the best possible family.

And then there’s the wonderful chance of exposing these doggies to new pools of potential adopters — those who meet them out and about, and those who see the photos online.

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Indeed, Suazo tells Shelter Me that Longtimer’s Lunch Club has been a great success, in the adoption department.

Seven dogs have participated so far — some, who’ve spent over a year in the shelter until now.

Since their vacations from the shelter, more than half have gone into homes.

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This includes Gina.

Gina spent nearly 300 days in the shelter — a wonderful, overlooked dog.

As of Saturday, Gina’s gone into a foster-to-adopt home. If things go well, she’ll be staying for good.

“We will miss her,” says Suazo. “But we are so thrilled that she will be snuggled up in a bed of her very own and living the pampered life she so deserves.”

All images via SPCA of Brazoria County

Your local shelter may have a similar program — or may be willing to let you start one. Reach out and ask!

Story tip? Get in touch at aringreenwood@gmail.com.

Arin Greenwood

Arin Greenwood is an animal writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Previously, she was animal welfare editor at The Huffington Post. Arin is a former lawyer (J.D. from Columbia Law School, member of the New York Bar), life long animal lover, pit bull advocate, and devoted fan of cats and dogs who run for public office. Her first novel, Tropical Depression -- based on her five-odd, sometimes very odd, years living on a small island near Guam -- was published by teeny indie publisher Back Porch Books in 2011. Her second book, a comic young adult mystery called Save The Enemy, was published by Soho Teen in November 2013. Hello From Dog Island!, Arin's third book, will be published by Soho Teen in 2018. Know a shelter with a great, innovative program? Have another animal story to share? Get in touch at aringreenwood@gmail.com!

5 comments

  1. Denise Denapoli says:

    That’s so funny, When I brought my babes through star bucks drive through in Dedham MA the nice girl asked me if she could give them a cup of whip cream!

    Also, I love love love this idea!

  2. Lisa Ehrett says:

    This is how dogs become socially accepted and learn their social akills. It is a fundamental and necessary process in order for the attrition rates of many shelters to be reduced. Dogs that are socialized and acclimated before adoption = retention =forever homes.

  3. PAUL MORA says:

    This is a great idea. Not sure if they are doing this in Southern California yet but they should do it in every shelter

  4. Ava Rizzo says:

    That is amazing! I hope other shelters start doing this.

  5. Lisa Blanck says:

    what a grand idea!! will share it locally.

Comments are closed.