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At first, it may seem like giving even just a quarter of an hour of undivided attention to a shelter dog is not really that much – but for the dogs themselves, that comparatively small amount of time is priceless. Moreover, for countless dogs, even that bare minimum is still something they cannot count on. This is why volunteer programs in animal shelters are so important and simply invaluable for the unfortunate souls spending their time waiting for a new home. Being given attention and affection, for example, on a walk is usually the happiest moment of their day or week.

YiLin already knows all that and more. The nine-year-old was born in Beijing but now lives in Phuket, Thailand, where, for the past month, he and his parents have been walking dogs as volunteers at the Soi Dog shelter. YiLin is a model volunteer – he loves animals and is more than happy to give them his time. He is especially fond of small dogs, Soi Dog Foundation reports and even has one shelter dog who holds a very special place in his heart – a little terrier named Boyd. When they saw each other for the first time, it was obvious right away that a friendship was on its way.

The boy and his parents are doing something wonderful for the dogs in need of human interaction and warmth – and they have an important piece of advice for anyone interested in volunteering. “Don’t be afraid – all the animals here are friendly,” they say. “You give the animals love and care, but they give you back more.”

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