Do you love dogs? You'll find several enjoyable ways to make a difference, from walking dogs at an animal shelter to helping disabled people or senior citizens to care for their pet through an organization like PAWS, to making nurturing calls with your own furry friend.
Organizations such as The Good Dog Foundation or Caring Companions offer a chance to bring animal-assisted therapy to children, handicapped or elderly individuals. Once your dog passes a basic temperament test, you'll be asked to go through a training program to prepare your pet for work as a therapy dog. Soon, you'll be able to make regular visits with Buddy or Fido to people in hospitals or nursing homes, bringing smiles and comfort with you.
You can also consider raising a puppy for an organization like Canine Companions. You'll provide a safe home and general care for a puppy, take him through obedience training, and offer socialization until he's around 15 months old. Then, much like when a teenager goes off to college, he'll go through advanced training to become a companion pet. It's a terrific way to volunteer your time and help provide a more independent life for children or adults with disabilities.