Frankly I often haven’t a clue what I’m going to write about here until I start writing. Obviously there are those times when something happens that inspires me but other times I feel like I’m waiting for the something to hit me and spark my musings.
Today I’ve been needled by last night’s new volunteer orientation session where I do the dog handling presentations and one new volunteer in particular. And I don’t even know what the story or lesson actually is, there’s something there that’s got me clicking on this keyboard.
We had a huge group last night, which makes for a very crowded lobby and even more so with several families with young children. As an aside, I find families that choose to do this sort of activity to be just so awe inspiring….getting involved in volunteering as a family is about as cool as it can get. Admittedly the fidgeting young ones as well as the stuffed lobby, challenges me to get and keep their attention but no one fell asleep on me. So I’ll call it a success.
My goal during these sessions is not only to teach them some of the important dog handling procedures in and around our shelter but also to get into their heads how valuable they can be to the animals inside our walls. How important even brief interactions are to the well-being of these animals. And how much help they can be in preparing animals for adoption while they better the lives of animals while with us. I want them to understand a shelter does not have to be a sad place to visit.
Excited by the large group, the reality is that out of every group of volunteers that attends our training sessions only about 20% ever return. Fewer yet make it a regular part of their lives. As such it’s just my nature to scan the group of attendees at each session and try to pin point those that will return and those I’ll never see again.
The easy ones, those that I’m sure will be back at least a few times are the ones that I can readily see tearing up at my story of Trooper, my first amazing shelter experience (read his story here). Or those that are intently listening to every word and are quick with their hand in the air with questions at the end. Others are more difficult to gauge but time will surely tell. But many won’t come back even though their intentions are good. I wish I knew why. I try to be hopeful that some will come back and find what I’ve found and love it as I do!
So when the talking is done we team the newbies up with some of our experienced volunteers for some hands on dog walking. The fun stuff.
Near the end of the session when most of the new volunteers had enough for their first night and just a handful of the regular crew are getting the last dogs out for a potty break, one of the new volunteers comes over to me. Throughout the evening I’d watched her walk several dogs, noting all were large dogs and thought she looked exceptionally comfortable with them. She even chose one of the dogs I had used as an example of a dog that was best walked when you are feeling especially energetic and up for a challenge. A rowdy boy named Tonto. She was obviously undaunted by my warnings and seemed to have a good time with him. I found this encouraging from afar and even more so when she remarked that she loved the big dogs especially.
She also remarked that she suspected that many of the new group would probably not be back or not often. She was very astute. But she wanted me to know that she would be back. She was entering a new phase in her life having recently retired and helping homeless animals was going to be her new calling.
Thinking it might scare her off, I resisted the urge to grab her and hug her. But I sure wanted to!
It was obvious she meant every word and that she knew that this was what she was supposed to be doing. What I don’t know is whether or not she knows that she’s not just going to be helping homeless animals in this new phase of her life. She’s not just going to be changing the lives of the animals who will be lucky enough to share her time and attention. She’s about to change her own life. But I’ll let her find out that all on her own.
Speaking of callings, I have to mention the woman who drove from Elkins WV today after reading about a dog named Lucy on our website and felt she had to come meet her. Something about Lucy was calling her too.
She and her husband had lost their Shepherd mix of 14 years not long ago and she’s been waiting for their next dog to find them. Something in Lucy’s picture and her story prompted the lengthy trip and even though the woman knew from reading about our adoption process that we usually cannot make same day adoptions happen, she had to meet her.
For those who know Lucy, you know as I that she would not be disappointed when she met this incredible dog. The face-to-muzzle meeting explained fully the calling and the woman submitted her adoption application hoping she’d be making a return trip soon to pick up Lucy. Fortunately Lucy had been spayed earlier in the week and the staff was able to process the application and Lucy went back to Elkins with her new mom to meet her new dad!
Lucy, had belonged to a homeless man before coming to our shelter, so this is a dog that truly has known only homelessness. He gave her up when she delivered four puppies and that was too much for him to handle From day one, Lucy charmed us all with her sweet, gentle nature. A perfect camp dog in last week’s kids camp, she demonstrated again and again to her team and all that met her how amazingly wonderful she was.
But as of a few hours ago, Lucy is homeless no more. I don’t know who is luckier…Lucy or the woman whose life too will change for the better because something called to her that she couldn’t ignore. It doesn’t matter really, as on this very busy Friday that began with a line of people at our door waiting to deposit unwanted animals, there’s at least one bright spot in this day.
As Lucy has left the building! Yippee!