Working with the animals


Prior to her placement with Breanne's family in Oct., 2014, Natasha exhibited dog-aggressive behavior.

"It means the dog does not like, or get along with, other dogs," Animal Welfare League of Arlington communications manager Kerry McKeel explained in an email.

Fortunately, Karen was available to help.

Natasha. Photo courtesy of AWLA

Natasha. Photo courtesy of AWLA

Karen is a long-time AWLA volunteer who has been giving her time to the organization since 1990.

“My full time job involves working with dogs, so I began volunteering as a dog training in order to get more hands-on experience, ” she said. Karen has been an animal lover her whole life, and began to become fascinated by the wide variety behaviors and personality traits that dogs exhibit. Karen works with AWLA's adopters to help them create behavioral management plans for the animals.

She was instrumental in training Natasha prior to adoption, helping the German Shepard be calmer and less stressed around other animals.

Natasha (also called Sasha) with her new family. 

Natasha (also called Sasha) with her new family. 

“I am drawn to dogs with behavioral issues," Karen said, "for example, some shelter dogs have fear issues. I like working with challenging dogs and helping them become a good fit for their owners. The most gratifying part is helping give a dog a better day. The staff at the shelter is so compassionate and driven by the same mission—to help the animals."  

About the Author: Marisa Weidner is a graduate of The College of William and Mary. She has volunteered as a teacher in Belize, and in homeless shelters in the United States. Marisa chronicles her explorations of DC on her blog, The Curated City