Pampered Pets Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,450 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,160 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Outpost/Pampered Pets Expert Level Merit Badge, I sat Ms. Twinkles down and had a stern discussion. My frolic-y, paranoid, yappy, temperamental Pomeranian sometimes needs a good, old-fashioned, come-to-Jesus type of talk, and since she had just gone through my trash and yakked up a chicken bone all while barking madly at a leaf blowing by the window, I figured now was as good a time as any. In order to earn my Expert Level Merit Badge, this was my mission:

  • Volunteer at your local humane shelter, equine therapy ranch, or other animal-care facility. Spend 10 hours volunteering or Complete Canine Good Citizen training with your dog, and consider continuing his training to be a therapy dog.

Photo by Peter Wadsworth via Wikimedia Commons

“Okay, fuzz face, this is how it’s gonna be,” I began, disentangling myself from my constant lap sitter. “Off! Dude, pay attention! Let go of my sweater.”

A branch tapped the window and Ms. Twinkles started up with her mad yipping again. She jumped up and down like a toddler who’d eaten the whole box of fruit snacks.

“Down, Ms. Twinkles!” I shouted, as she pulled down my drapes in her feverish pursuit of nature. “Stop it this instant!”

This was not going to work. My dreams of Ms. Twinkles becoming a therapy dog or even lasting more than 10 minutes in Canine Good Citizen Training was rapidly fading.

I sighed and left her chasing the mailman as I headed out to my local animal shelter.

They promptly signed me up for something called “House Training.” I hoped having a well behaved ex-shelter dog of my own was not a prerequisite. It was a little embarrassing to be trained by what looked to be an 11-year-old volunteer, but I bravely soldiered on as we walked the length of Dog Town. Such cuties. I loved them all and wanted to take them all home immediately.

“Dude, pay attention,” said the 11-year-old. She was hard-core. I snapped to attention and tried to ignore the ever-so-adorable Border Collie who was making eyes at me.


Photo by John Haslam via Wikimedia Commons

I spent all day at the shelter and learned so much, I was excited to head home and try out my newfound education and skills on Ms. Twinkles. She wouldn’t know what hit her—metaphorically speaking, of course. She’d be eligible for Good Citizen Training in no time, I just knew it.

Things I learned at the shelter (beside how not to adopt every dog in sight. Maybe just one … or two …):

  • Squirrely little dogs need a properly fitted harness when walking.
  • When walking dogs past the row of kennels (or anytime you are coming in contact with another canine), put the dog on the same side as the other dog(s). You don’t want to be in the way if a fight or a snarl or a bite breaks out.
  • Flattened-back ears and a cowering posture is not actually a doggy being meek. This is a bad sign. The dog is stressed and anxious. If they look away, ignoring your very existence, akin to the way a 2-year-old child plays Hide and Seek by closing her eyes, this is another sign of stress and anxiety.
  • The best way to house train your newfound bestie is to take him out promptly after eating. Reward his potty efforts.

I spent five hours at the shelter, and will spend another five next weekend, hanging with the kitties and socializing them. Just call me Dr. Jane Doolittle!


Photo by Ldesgreniers via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    How difficult it is to go into a shelter and NOT want to bring everyone home! It just makes me so sad to see them all there wanting attention or sad and withdrawn. I am so not good at unhappy pets. And don’t even put me close to the kitties! This is a good badge for the brave at heart who have the emotional discipline to do good things at the shelter and not get so overwhelmed by the situation. Alas, I have already failed as I can’t even go to the shelter without crying. I get a huge lump in my throat just thinking about it now!

  2. Cindi says:

    Our Humane Society shelter is right down the street and I can hear the dogs conversing from time to time; I often wonder what they are talking about. It is hard to think about so many animals there ~ they have so much to give!!! Every dog I have had was a rescue and they have been the best companions in the world! Shelter volunteers (bless them!) walk the dogs in the fields all the time and it is fun to see them playing and enjoying their walks. The very best thing is when I see a family-filled car coming away from the shelter, packed with laughing kids being swat with a wagging tail and the dog with its head out the window wearing the biggest, happiest doggie grin you have ever seen in your life…

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