No matter what their age or which organization they support, volunteers in the animal welfare world are connected by their desire to make a difference for animals. So far this week, I’ve told you about a four-year-old boy who asked for money to be donated to Lincoln Animal Ambassador’s Pet Food Bank, a nine-year-old boy who helps out at Big Dogs Huge Hearts events, and a college student who volunteered at the Capital Humane Society as part of her veterinarian studies. Today I’d like to introduce you to Tina, who regularly fosters for Dolly’s Legacy Animal Rescue.
It’s hard to give a foster dog up, but it’s totally worth it!
Tina has long loved animals and hates hearing stories of their abuse. The latter has caused her to advocate for their welfare and protection but, like many who commit themselves to speaking up for the voiceless, she kept looking for even more ways to help. That’s how Tina found Dolly’s Animal Legacy Rescue, an organization which focuses on saving orphaned and abandoned pets from high-kill shelters, for whom she fosters.
Being a foster allows Tina to play an important role in the lives of rescue dogs. She helps dogs “learn how to be dogs again”. Through fosters like Tina, the dogs learn to trust people, play with toys, and enjoy hugs and cuddles.
Often a person’s first experience with a new venture will rank among the most memorable moments. For Tina, her first fosters were two six-week old puppies. She holds dear the day that the puppies first learned to sit. “This might seem trivial to others, but it was a special moment for us.”
After that first foster experience, if a person continues to foster, the memories can start to blur. So if a moment stands out from the rest, it must be truly special. A moment that Tina has never forgotten, and considers her greatest success story, is when she adopted one of her foster dogs. After her previous dog had died, she felt broken, and as if a part of her were gone. When she saw Journey’s shelter picture, that of a scared and hurt dog who needed a home, it was instant love. “I melted the day I picked up this little fifteen-pound, heartworm-positive Beagle. He hasn’t left my side since!”
Another memory Tina shared with me fell instead into the category of embarrassing moments. Tina took a dog to a meet-and-greet. A potential adopter wanted to walk the dog around. When he went to pick up a pooper scooper, the dog lost it! “She tried so hard to get back over me. She was shaking and terrified! I’d never seen that behavior before and was slightly embarrassed about her actions. I learned something new about her that day. She’d probably been hit with one and she remembered. It broke my heart as I tried to console her and comfort her.” Despite Tina’s feeling of humiliation over the incident, everything worked out in the end. The man gave the dog a second chance. He ended up adopting her, and he “is working on her confidence”.
I’m willing to take on more tasks. Take dogs that need special care or maybe one day run a transport.
Fostering in itself can demand a lot of resources from a volunteer, such as: time, money, and energy. That’s why burnout among long-term fosters is common. Tina occasionally needs to take a break. Her advice to others is to do the same, or at least follow up difficult pets with easier ones. Most of all, “remember what you’re doing it for.”
Tina’s passion for animal welfare remains unbridled. She’s also gotten involved with fund-raising events for Dolly’s Animal Legacy Rescue and even organized a manicure/pedicure day at the dog park. “Everyone needs a nail trim for their dogs. Why shouldn’t it be for a good cause?”
To anyone who’s thinking about getting involved, Tina considers volunteering to be “one of the more rewarding experiences you can do”. And, should you decide to foster, you’ll “play an integral role in the life of a dog. You’ll save a life!”
Many thanks to Dolly’s Animal Legacy Rescue for routinely answering my call for stories for LAA Pet Talk. If you wish to know more about Dolly’s Animal Legacy Rescue, contact Kerri Kelly. You can find out more about her story and passion for animals at Kerry Kelly A Hero for Animals. You can also check Dolly’s Animal Legacy Rescue out at their website.
This wraps up my week dedicated to stories of distinctive volunteers. Next week, I’ll be back to talk with the volunteer coordinator at Lincoln Animal Ambassadors, and to share what I’ve learned from volunteers this year. If you’re a volunteer with a local animal welfare group, whatever your age or role, LAA Pet Talk would love to hear from you. Just post a comment below! Thanks.