As anyone who's ever loved a animal will attest, pets are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Animals are individuals, each with its own wants, needs, and idiosyncrasies, and finding the right kind of home for each one can be a challenge.

Take Riley, for example. When he arrived at P.A.W.S. about 7 months ago, we knew Riley had anxiety issues. He did not like to be away from "his" people and would do anything to be with them. (Once he even jumped out of a window, just to be included in a family outing!) Eventually, we found a great home for Riley with a family that lived on a farm. Granted, he clashed with the numerous kitties on the farm, but he loved his new mom, dad, and human "siblings" and would stop at nothing to protect them.

Unfortunately, that was Riley's downfall. He became a bit too protective, confronting the farm's many paying customers with a big-dog bark that scared off more than a few. And when the kids — whom Riley especially adored — had friends over and started roughhousing, Riley would rush in to break things up and "defend" the youngsters he loved. Long story short, Riley wound up back at P.A.W.S.

The great thing about Riley is that once he knows you, he'll love you forever. But even though he'd probably love to be a family dog again, we believe he'll do better in a home with no young children (and please, no cats). He needs a calm environment, with not too much action, plus frequent trips to a dog park, perhaps, so he can work off some of his energy playing with other dogs. Looking for devoted friend with a heart of gold? Please come meet Riley. This time, he promises to be a good boy.

Tristin is another not-your-run-of-the-mill-type of pet. This super-handsome dude of a cat loves people, but he loves them on his own terms. If he's in the mood, he won't leave you alone. But when he's not in the mood, he'll get as far away from you as far as possible. We have big dreams for Tristin. We can see him on a farm, chasing down mice in the barn and coming into the house from time to time for quality time with the family. Clearly, being confined in a cat room at P.A.W.S. and having to be around people when he'd rather be alone is not doing him any good. Is there a nice farm family out there that would appreciate an indoor/outdoor cat with the added benefit of rodent control?

Meeting the unique needs of every animal in our care is rewarding but demanding work ; which is why we so frequently use this column to talk about our need for volunteers. There are so many ways to pitch in at the shelter. At the moment, we particularly need extra hands in the morning, to help with cleaning. But if that's not your thing, how about lending a hand with some of our public fundraisers and other events? You get to be part of the fun and at the same time do something good for animals. We're also looking for people willing to give a few hours every now and then to pick up dogs and cats that are coming to our shelter from other states.

If you'd like to join our team, please email Paula at volunteer@pawsadoption.org, visit us at 123 John St. in Camden, or give us a call at 236-8702.