What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?
When Hurricane Katrina hit, a friend and I just decided to show up at PAWS to help and I’ve been a volunteer since then – about six years.
Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?
I volunteer at the Clinic every Monday. I am a Level 2 volunteer and currently conduct New Volunteer Orientations. I have also helped with dog walking, Adoption Counseling, Meet Your Match evaluations and temperament testing at the city pound. My husband and I have also fostered 12 dogs over a two-year period.
Is there a favorite experience that has stood out during your time as a volunteer?
When I first began volunteering at PAWS, there were a lot of Katrina dogs in the program. There was one named Cowboy, a rambunctious hound, who was one of the last Katrina dogs to be adopted. About a year later, I saw a very sad, low-key hound that looked just like him at PAWS. I thought, ‘that can’t be Cowboy,’ but it was. Unfortunately, his adopter had gotten very ill and passed away. The following week, Cowboy was still there still looking incredibly sad. I decided to take him home and foster him. We had him for about six weeks. He was scheduled to go to the Adoption Center the day that it opened. The day I was to return him to PAWS, my husband said it was OK if I wanted to keep him. We were on our way out of town that weekend so we decided to take him to the Center as planned. If he didn’t get adopted over the weekend we would adopt him ourselves. Fortunately for him, he was adopted that first weekend. It was bittersweet – he would have been a great addition to our family but I hope his adopters enjoy him as much as we did!
How does what you do for a career apply to what you do as a volunteer?
I have been a hairstylist for more than 20 years. I love working with people. I really enjoy the relationships I have developed over the years with my clients. I think this applies well to working with people when I volunteer at PAWS.
Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago?
I think PAWS is a great organization. They are such good advocates for homeless pets. I love going in each week and feeling like I am really helping the dogs. They are always so happy just to go out and get some fresh air. Some are scared and just need some socialization. It’s very rewarding to feel like you are helping them to become a more comfortable and adoptable pet!
Do you have any pets at home?
I have two PAWS alumni, Chloe an 11-year-old Shepard/Lab mix, and our newest addition, Paxton, a five-month-old Doberman/Great Pyrenees.
Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events?
I have volunteered at the fur Ball, the Beach Party, Angels with Tails events on Michigan Avenue and Armitage, Run for Their Lives, and a parade in Little Village.
What value have you gotten from volunteering at PAWS Chicago?
I love doing something every week that I don’t have to do. It is a great feeling to give your time and energy to a good cause. Many of the animals have been cast aside, abandoned, and possibly abused. They clearly have scares both physically and emotionally, but they rise above them. The animals are incredibly resilient, and it is a great lesson to watch them.