ASHLAND A stroke of the brush, a brisk walk and hugs and kisses are just some of the perks of Ashland Animal Rescue Fund’s Paw Pal program — for volunteers and for the canines.

AARF, a private, no-kill shelter whose goal is to reduce the number of euthanized pets in shelters and to provide assistance to owner surrenders, was founded in 2009. The organization has numerous fundraisers throughout the year, including the annual Howl-iday Dinner and Live Auction, scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Ashland Transportation Center.

Along the way, AARF has collected volunteers to help with such events, but some volunteers prefer to get their hands dirty.

Rebecca Fairchild, Paw Pal program coordinator, said the volunteer opportunity gives participants a good chance of getting dirty.

“We just get them out, walk them, play ball with them, love them,” she said.

Paw Pal volunteers are paired with a dog being housed at the kennel, Fairchild said, noting making a good match between volunteer and dog is important.

“Just like if you were going to pick a dog out for your lifestyle, you want to pick a match in  Paw Pal,” she said, noting she tries to match the right person to the right dog.

Volunteers spend at least an hour a week with their Paw Pal. What they do depends on the dog — some like to play ball, some enjoy a walk, some just want to cuddle. Volunteer training is on Tuesdays.

Although volunteers have to be at least 16 (those from 16 to 18 must be accompanied by a guardian), Fairchild said volunteers are varied in age and gender.

“Sometimes someone comes to be a Paw Pal volunteer and the find another way to volunteer,” she said. “Everybody has a gift. How can we utilize your gift?”

Fairchild, who has volun

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