Prescription for happiness

Nancy Praizler, shown here with Bunnie, is a retired systems analyst from Chico State who lives with her husband, Jay Rawlins, and their two cats.

Animal lovers wanted: To volunteer at the Chico shelter, contact the Butte Humane Society (343-7917 or People on the Ridge can join Paradise Animal Shelter Helpers (873-3061); those closer to Oroville can help the NWSPCA (533-7636).

Julius, Penelope and Bunnie are three happy, bright, affectionate dogs. We met at the Butte Humane Society’s animal shelter in Chico, where I work as a volunteer. It’s called work, but I really go there to play, cheer up, relax and get happy.

Friday was a difficult day, so I went to the shelter knowing that these were the three I needed to see: Julius because he is pure happiness, Penelope for her love and companionship, and Bunnie for her joy for life. Each was thrilled to see me—as, I admit, is any dog I take to the yard to play. In minutes I was smiling.

When Julius hits the yard, initially he’s full of pent-up energy that’s built while he’s been in his kennel. I take off his leash and he runs and runs—around the yard, around me. He’s a black flash of Labrador happiness. I run with him, clapping, throwing a ball, and we’re playing. Ten minutes pass, and he slows some. I pet him, he greets the dogs in the kennels surrounding the yard, then I walk him on the leash. Thirty minutes later, we’re both refreshed and he’s a calmer, more relaxed dog.

Penelope must have had a loving owner because she is a sweet dog. When we’re together, she stays by my side, wiggling and snuggling for petting. On the leash she’s a star. She’s so easy to be with and lovable that I’ll miss her a lot when she gets adopted.

The first time I saw Bunnie, I couldn’t make it past her kennel: What a face! What eyes! She’s petite, a rich tan color, and every time I see her I want to take her out to play. She runs hard when she fetches the red rubber bone, her favorite, and she’s an attentive pupil during the leash work. I’m very proud of her. Like the others, she loves to be petted and I’m happy to rub her ears and neck.

I don’t own a dog. My lifestyle and home aren’t set up to accommodate one. So I go to the shelter a couple of times a week and play with dogs of all sizes and breeds. Our “socialization” helps them get adopted because they’re better around people and respond well to interested future owners, plus the time away from their kennels gives them much-needed breaks.

If you love dogs or cats but don’t have a house for one, or if you’re a busy college student, spend a little time at the shelter as a volunteer. It’s the perfect arrangement, and there are about 90 really great dogs—and as many cats—who’d love to meet you.