Dog People, Cat People -- Humane Society Needs Everyone



Humane Society volunteers Hedi Apodaca and George White sit in White's kitchen.

There are dog people and there are cat people. George White, a Payson Humane Society volunteer, is a dog person.

In fact, he often prefers their company to that of people. "I get along with the dogs better," White, 77, said.

According to White's fellow volunteer, Hedi Apodaca, 69, White likes the dogs that need a lot of help, a lot of patience.

Lucky, White's favorite, was often called Psycho. "They didn't call him Psycho for nothing," White said.

White and Apodaca have been volunteering at the shelter since 2005. Back then, the shelter had no doggie playground. Volunteers would walk one dog, bring them back, and then grab another.

"It's much better with a playground," Apodaca said.

White said he carried a pedometer while volunteering in those days. In six months, he walked 280 miles.

Humane Society dogs have it pretty good, volunteers say. There are doggie swimming pools, volunteers to pet them and love them, and lots of company.

"The dogs get along," Apodaca said.

"Sometimes better than the people," White said. The pecking order is readily established, but White usually stays near a water hose and mace in case the animals start fighting.

"Water breaks it up pretty good," he said.

The aging shelter now holds about 45 dogs and an untold number of cats. The dog people don't stay completely apprised of cat goings-on.

Carole, White's wife, named them "catters."

"I like most of the dogs," White said. "They're kind of fun to watch and they're all different."

He mentioned one dog that could clear a six-foot chain link fence "like it wasn't even there."

It's a good thing the volunteers love the dogs so much because some stay a while. One dog lived at the shelter for a year before being adopted.

But, some "have a better life here than they do with their owners," White said.

"You get one adopted and two in. It's very sad," Apodaca said.

White and Carole have three dogs. There's Cash, who escaped from the van when first brought home.

"All of a sudden, he bolted and went flying past me," White recalled. The dog came back.

"Only George would adopt a dog like that," Apodaca said. "You have to have patience."

"Just peopling, I think, just so they can get over their fear," White said.

There's Mijo, a kidnapped feral from Mexico, and there's Buford, who was playing in the backyard Friday afternoon.

White volunteers two days a week, from about 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Apodaca said when the two first started, they spent five or six days a week at the shelter.

The next evolution the two will be present for is the shelter's new building. The Humane Society is raising money for the building, which the volunteers say is sorely needed.

For dogs and cats with nowhere to go, the shelter may not be home, but with volunteers like White and Apodaca, it's pretty close.

Rim Country seniors and others interested in volunteering at the Payson Humane Society can call (928) 474-5590 for more information, or stop by the shelter at 812 S. McLane Road.

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