Volunteering with Tails of the Trail

By: Amelia Gibson, PhD, MBA, Kerafast Director of Business Development

More than three million dogs are estimated to enter animal shelters in the United States annually. The stress dogs experience living in the shelter environment can lead to physical and emotional issues that threaten their health as well as make them less likely to be adopted. Tails of the Trail is a non-profit organization that currently operates within middle Tennessee and the Carolinas with a mission to improve the lives of shelter dogs through exercise and socialization. Tails of the Trail works with local animal shelters and volunteers to take shelter dogs on nature hikes accompanied by plenty of belly rubs and treats.

I’ve always had a passion for animals and have volunteered for several rescue groups as well as fostered orphan puppies, so I signed up to volunteer with Tails of the Trail as soon as I learned about the organization. This past weekend was my first event with them, and we met at Cheatham County Animal Control to take their adoptable dogs for a hike at a nearby park. After a thorough orientation, the dogs were brought out one-by-one and matched with a volunteer. Every dog came out excited to meet the volunteers with wagging tails and puppy grins. Then Coby was led out. He was a shy, medium-sized, mixed-breed dog with kind brown eyes who was clearly overwhelmed with the commotion of the other excited dogs and new people. I instantly liked him and volunteered to be his walker. He quickly warmed up to me, and it was clear that he wanted to be as close to me as possible, either sitting or lying down on my feet and offering puppy kisses whenever he could. We walked the dogs around the grounds to get to know them and to let them burn off some energy from the initial excitement before we drove to the local park. Coby readily jumped into the backseat of my car and laid in the back like a perfect gentleman for the entire ride. We hiked a three-mile trail winding past a pond and going up a steep hill that allowed us a great view of grassy fields and farms below. The event coordinators walked alongside us in case there were any issues, but all sixteen dogs were well-behaved and clearly enjoyed being outdoors. We were encouraged to give frequent treats to the dogs during the hike, and Coby would gently take the treats from my hand, then voraciously gobble them down. At the end of the hike, the dogs were given water and a special treat, a peanut butter pupsicle. We spent the next twenty minutes or so sitting with our tired dogs showering them with belly rubs and ear scratches. Back at the shelter, we took pictures with our dogs to post to the Tails of the Trail social media accounts to help get these dogs adopted.

I had so much fun volunteering with Tails of the Trail that I have already signed up for several more hikes throughout December and hope to continue on with them as an event coordinator!

If you would like to learn more about Tails of the Trail or donate money and/or time, please visit their website here and Facebook page here.

Giving back to our local and global scientific communities is a valued part of the culture here at Kerafast; as part of our mission, we give back to science by returning a generous portion of every sale to the scientists and institutions that contribute Reagents for the Greater Good. Team members are encouraged to support personal causes as well and can take time off from work every month for volunteering. Learn more about our efforts to give back here.

Coby patiently waiting, on my foot, to start our hike.