News Item | PAWS Chicago

You're Retired, Now What?

by Louis Cohn | Nov 01, 2014

How, after retirement, I found a way to feel useful, alive, be happier and do good all at the same time!

RETIREMENT. That magical word that conjures up visions of sleeping in, perpetual holidays and - if we are very lucky - being able to travel to new and exciting places. However, what happens when you realize that after retirement there is something still missing in your life? Writing from my own experience, I believe I have the answer! 

A few years after I retired, I was often asked by my friends who were still working, “So, how’s retirement going for you?” I would usually answer “OK” but I knew that it was not like I thought it would be. Like so many of us who are retired, I was missing that part of my work life that revolved around my “work family” and the people I interacted with every day. I missed meeting new people and being part of a process that usually made them happier. And, I missed the feeling that I had done something very, very worthwhile. For me, the solution was at a place I drove past every week on my way home - PAWS Chicago.

Having become a “father” again late in my 70s to Daisy, our furry, four-legged adopted Australian Shepherd, I realized how many of my daily smiles were directly related to having a dog. I went online to the PAWS Chicago website to find out what volunteer opportunities were available. The idea of becoming an Adoption Counselor seemed like an ideal role for me. 

I signed up for basic orientation and started the process of becoming a PAWS volunteer. I knew how to walk a dog but there was so much more to learn! Fortunately, there were many seasoned volunteers to learn from. It was great to start meeting new volunteers, sharing our love for animals, cats and dogs, while aiming for my goal. Age made absolutely no difference – I am in my 80’s – and the energy and enthusiasm of all the younger volunteers was infectious! 

To reach my goal of becoming an Adoption Counselor, I was required to shadow the adoptions conducted by other counselors to see how it was done. Every adoption I sat in on taught me more about the importance of being a counselor and the joy, as well as the responsibilities, the adopters were undertaking. Watching families, couples and single adopters beam with joy when they took adoption pictures with their new four-legged family members was an experience I looked forward to with great anticipation! I remember the excitement and trepidation I felt when my mentor asked me if I was ready to conduct an adoption on my own, and the pride I felt when I was given my black apron announcing that I was an actual Adoption Counselor! 

To date, I have helped find homes for more than 200 dogs. Thinking about them and knowing that another 200 dogs have taken their place with the PAWS guarantee that they will be safe until they find their new families makes me proud! There is rarely a week that goes by that I do not get misty-eyed over the adoptions of a special needs dog (blind, disabled or suffering from some other malady) who I am helping find a new forever home.

If the studies about longevity are correct and people who volunteer live longer, then there’s no time like the present to start your volunteer training at PAWS Chicago. I can’t think of any reason not to volunteer other than perhaps your family and friends might tire of hearing about the new challenge you have undertaken. However, it is certain that they won’t tire of the new excitement and happiness they see in your expression every day! 

Oh, by the way, come and see me any Friday afternoon from noon to 5:00 p.m. at PAWS Chicago’s Lincoln Park Adoption center at 1997 N. Clybourn in Chicago and I’ll be glad to show you how special it is to be a volunteer at PAWS - at any age!

Retired? Homeless Pets Need You! 

Come join us at a Volunteer Orientation and dedicate your time to saving lives. Volunteers are particularly needed during weekday shifts, so please sign up. 
(773) 935-PAWS

Be a Hero for Senior Pets!

Looking for the perfect companion? Consider a senior cat or dog! Sure, they’re a little older than that adorable puppy or kitten, but they’re more experienced, have lots of love to give and they’re at their best in their golden years. 

Still not convinced? Here are a few more reasons to consider and older pet: 

  • Senior pets love to be loved. Many have experienced some type of loss in the past and just want a family they can trust and love, and be loved in return. 
  • What you see is what you get! When you adopt an adult pet, the size, coat, color and most importantly, personality, are established so it’s easier to choose one who fits your lifestyle and personality. 
  • It’s not unusual for dogs and cats to live well into their teens so you can have a loving pet for years to come. 
  • Mature pets have stronger immune systems and don’t succumb to common illnesses as younger pets can. 
  • Many senior pets are already trained and have gotten most of their high-energy playtime out of their system. Now, you and your new pet can focus on enjoying everyday life together. 
  • Older pets are some of the first to be euthanized at city impoundment facilities. We can save more lives when adult pets are adopted! Open your heart to amazing senior pets, like Margo, who need you to give them a second chance to love. Visit and meet these wonderful pets at our Lincoln Park and North Shore Adoption Centers.