Since we moved back to Wisconsin, I have been trying to find an organization that I can volunteer for. I tested the waters with a couple organizations for various causes and have decided to devote a portion of my free time to the local humane society. It’s appealing to me because it is incredibly flexible and my love for animals is second to none.
I’m starting off slow, just as a dog walker. They only “require” 3 hours a month to remain an active volunteer. Though I plan to spend more time than that each month, I appreciate the fact that they recognize their volunteers may get busy. In addition, they don’t require you to sign up for times or come in at a consistent time. A couple of the other opportunities I tried required a commitment each week, same night and time, and that just wasn’t realistic for me with the busy schedule I currently have.
I’ve since been through 2 orientations. The first was a general orientation so I could learn about their organization and how they operate. This was really important to me. It became very clear to me that they highly appreciate their volunteers and their number one priority is the health and happiness of the animals that come to their shelter. It was here that I also learned all of the different ways I could act for them. From dog walking, cat cuddling, laundry, helping with adoption events, and other promotions; they really have opportunities for anyone. Even if you aren’t comfortable interacting with the animals, it is easy for you to go and still have a significant impact.
The second orientation was specific to dog walking. Having 2 dogs of my own, one of whom is a little nuerotic, I thought that I could easily handle some of the dogs that come in with some undesirable characteristics. I spend 2 1/2 hours learning how they handle their dogs, the proper way to harness them, walk them, etc. Again, I think it speaks volumes that they invest so much time in preparing their volunteers to ensure not only their own safety, but also the safety of the animals.
At the end of the orientation, we got to go meet some of the dogs looking for their forever homes. Three dogs really caught my attention.
Duncan is a 12 year old beagle. His tag says that his family wasn’t able to take care of him anymore because they moved to a place that didn’t allow dogs. Duncan melted my heart. While all of the other dogs were barking and going cray-zy, Duncan remained very calm, napping on his little bed. I went into his kennel and said hello and he was SO loveable. I expressed concern over his adaptability, since most families aren’t drawn to a senior dog, but the kennel manager assured me that there are homes that lovingly welcome them. If I didn’t have 2 youthful dogs at home that would surely drive Duncan insane, he would’ve come home with me. No doubt.
I’m generally not a little dog person. However, Porsche caught my attention, because in the “small dog” area, she never barked. It was so noisy, but she just said at her door, waiting patiently for attention to be given to her. When I went in to say hello to her, she got so excited, jumping and wiggling around, but she never barked. One of the aversions I have to little dogs is their yapping – but she was so quiet! Her sign said that she was a former stray. She must be a tough little bugger if she managed to survive for a period by herself in the “wild.”
Cyclone grabbed my attention because he is a golden-doodle and my friend, Kim, is currently taking care of one, Charlie. Charlie is returning to his “real” family in a couple months and I know Kim has mixed feelings about letting him go. So, of course I had to share a picture with her and insist she come pick him up. Of course, I left out the fact that he certainly lived up to his name. He was so full of energy! Bouncing off the walls, barking, “Pick me, Pick me!” Unfortunately, Kim is moving to an apartment where she can’t have dogs of any size, much less a 60+ pound golden-doodle appropriately named Cyclone.
I’m looking forward to sharing the successes of the dogs that I am going to help nurture. I feel a little sad seeing them all there, but as my husband pointed out, as soon as I see them start to leave for their forever homes I know I will feel all warm and fuzzy. In the meantime, I am very appreciative for organizations such as this, that take such great care of pets in transition. It’s clear that they take great pride in the services they offer.
Your turn: Do you volunteer? Where? And why did you choose that opportunity?