top of page

Going the Extra Mile (or 4)

Laura Beil

Tri-City Tales Issue No. 19

Dwight and Pat Roberson moved to Cedar Hill from Washington DC, where he was a pharmacist and she worked on Capitol Hill. That was 19 years ago. Eckerd’s was becoming CVS, and Dwight was transferred to Texas to help with the transition. But he was born and raised in Abilene, so the move was a homecoming of sorts. 

 After they both retired, the Robersons learned that Tri-City Animal Shelter needed volunteer dog walkers. The shelter staff makes sure that all the dogs get outside every day, but most days the workers are so overwhelmed with the day-to-day tasks of feeding, cleaning and caring for the animals there’s not a lot of time to spoil any one particular resident. That’s where shelter volunteers like Dwight and Pat come in. 

As lifelong dog lovers, the Robersons signed up to volunteer (one of many honored in April, which is Volunteer Appreciation Month). One of their first days on the job, Pat met a brown and white pit bull mix puppy named Iris. Iris had been abused by her previous owners—with the cigarette burns to show it-- and cowered at the back of her kennel. After she was unable to coax Iris to come out, Pat gently picked her up and carried her outside. Iris was so scared in the shelter, Pat asked if she could bring her home to foster her. After constant loving care, Iris learned trust and love. After a month, she adopted the family of a little boy.

The Robersons kept coming back to the shelter, twice a week, rain or shine. Dwight says: How could they not? “The dogs are just so happy to see you,” he says. “They all have different personalities.” Some are so excited they just want to walk and walk and walk. Others flip over and ask for a belly rub as soon as they are out the door. 

At first, Pat kept a journal to chronicle each dog she met. Eventually there were just too many to keep up with. Still, some dogs stand out in their minds. There was Hilda, who had been hit by a car, and was in such pain after surgery Pat had to sit on the floor with her for 45 minutes before she went out to go to the bathroom. There was a gentle white Pyrenees whom Dwight told to sit, and to his surprise she not only knew the command, she raised her paw. “They are all so appreciative,” he says. “They just want you to love them and pet them.”

The way the Robersons see it, the benefit goes both ways. In the two hours they generally spend at the shelter, they get in about four miles of exercise, dog by dog. And each dog is happy when Dwight and Pat show up to do it all again.

(If you would like to become a shelter volunteer, please apply here.)

bottom of page