pupventure

PSPCA volunteer Michelle Radziewicz took Freya to a local park on Thursday -- the first day of the new Pupventure program. Approved volunteers can pick up dogs at 9:30 a.m. Monday-Saturday and 8:30 a.m. on Sundays.

Adding “pup” to any word automatically makes it better. Try it. “Pupvacation,” “Pupbrunch,” “Pupnap.”

The Pennsylvania SPCA Lancaster Center last week debuted its new “Pupventures” program, which pairs volunteers and adorable, adoptable shelter dogs for a day of adventure outside the kennel facilities.

Sixteen dogs are available for “Pupventures.” Outings can be as short as an hour or two or as long as all day.

Volunteers can enjoy treats with Oreo — a Pomeranian-Pekingese — or hang out with Orville and Wilbur — Chihuahua and Jack Russell mixes. They can take a beagle to the beach or drive to the park with a pit mix. Volunteers are encouraged to post pictures of their pups on social media using the hashtags #PupventuresLANC as well as #adoptPSPCA.

The program is the latest of many initiatives, including upcoming plans to establish play groups for the dogs, that PSPCA Lancaster Center has taken to reduce stress levels in shelter dogs

A volunteer’s adventure with a dog, such as a hike around Lancaster, a trip to the beach or even a dinner date to a dog-friendly restaurant, also gives the dogs a chance to be adopted.

“Every dog has an adopt bandanna on them so people can see them,” says Rachel Golub, PSPCA Lancaster Center site manager. “And then, if they are interested, they can just talk to the volunteer about what the dog’s name is and they can come back to the shelter and start the adoption process.”

PSPCA partnered with Arizona State University and Virginia Tech in a nationwide study to learn about the effects of fostering for shelter dogs and the benefits of taking field trips away from the kennel environment. Studies have shown therapy dogs help humans reduce stress and anxiety, and it seems it goes both ways.

Likes humans, dogs are social animals and benefit from interaction.

“The kennel environment is kind of like being in solitary confinement in jail,” Golub says. “So you don’t see the best of the dog in that environment because they’re alone, they’re scared, it’s loud.”

Anyone interested in participating in the Pupventure program can visit pspca.org and fill out the volunteer application, watch a training video and do a one-on-one training to make sure that they are comfortable handling the dogs.