Volunteer Profile: Linda Noftall
by Lee Chambers
One day Linda Noftall was sitting with one of Dakin’s Dixie Dogs in the Dixie ward when a stranger walked around the corner. Her charge put a paw on her arm and looked her straight in the eyes. “I had the feeling he was saying ‘You’ll protect me, won’t you?’” she recalls. When she isn’t giving comfort to Dixies, Linda is a dog walker for Dakin.
After a couple of “Heinz 57” dogs, Linda and her husband got their first Sheltie in 1985 and since then she has had seven. In the mid-1980s the couple began training and showing their dogs in the obedience category of dog shows, something that has taken them across the United States. AT times they would do two shows in a weekend, often in separate directions. When her husband, Terry, passed away three years ago, she was looking for something to fill the emptiness, and helping Dakin’s dogs seemed a logical choice. She was familiar with the Springfield facility having donated food and using the emergency veterinary services when MSPCA occupied the building, so she contacted Dakin and signed up to be a dog walker.
Her expertise in training and showing Shelties made her orientation easy, and now she volunteers two 2-hour shifts each week. She goes in early and spends time in the kennels, talking to the dogs, which, she feels, makes them more comfortable with her when she takes them out for their walks.
“Once you take them out of their run, they’re fine,” she says. “I let them set their own pace unless they are pulling. If they want to sniff every leaf or would rather trot along, that’s fine. Sometimes we just sit on a wall and talk.” Now retired from her slipcover-making business, Linda is able to walk dogs midday when other volunteers are not available.
Linda shares her Agawam home with Shelties Trix, 8 ½, and Bandit, 4, who has recently been exhibiting some separation anxiety when Linda comes home from Dakin bearing the scent of other dogs. “Since the death of my husband, my two dogs have kept me going,” she says. “Thank goodness for them!”
Linda is very enthusiastic about the Dixie Dog program. “Every dog deserves a good home,” she says. Dakin Humane Society couldn’t agree more.
Thanks to Marianne Gambaro for contributing this story. Marianne is a published poet and manages her husband Jim's fine art photography business. Learn more about her at margampoetry.wordpress.com