What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago? How long have you been a volunteer?
My shelter dog, Niki, passed away in July, 2008 at almost 16.5 years and I began volunteering at PAWS in August of that year.
Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?
I concentrate on running the true singles, mostly level 3 dogs without roommates and those that cannot be placed in playgroups because I feel they benefit most from the activity.
Is there one favorite experience or fondest memory that has stood out or touched your heart during your time as a volunteer at PAWS Chicago?
Every animal is special and I have bonded with many over the years. I was grieving for my dog on my first volunteer shift and expecting to be depressed by the shelter environment. Instead, the dogs picked me up and still do!
How does what do you do for a career apply to what you do as a volunteer?
I have 2 jobs so I am multitasking in every area of my life. After several years of walking dogs at PAWS and running by myself along the lakefront, I realized I could combine my workout and volunteer shift by running PAWS dogs, which enabled me to triple my volunteer hours. It doesn’t even feel like training.
Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago? What do you enjoy the most about your experiences a volunteer?
Running dogs at PAWS is the best part of my week and the best way I have found to relieve stress and meet like-minded animal lovers.
Do you have any PAWS Chicago alumni pets - or any other pets - at home?
I work 2 jobs and I live alone. I do not currently have any animal companions but I look forward to adopting again in the future.
Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events that supports animals?
I volunteered at 3 Fur Ball events, ran in every Run for Their Lives since 2006, fundraise for TEAM PAWS and I have represented PAWS in 4 Chicago marathons 2013-2016 as a member of TEAM PAWS. This year I am running 7 total marathons representing TEAM PAWS (including two 50k ultra marathons). I participate in as many after work and weekend fun runs at the Adoption Center as I can. We also organize holiday morning fun runs with the dogs. One Sunday in November, we are taking PAWS dogs to Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve and our annual Thanksgiving Day fun run at PAWS is coming up on 11/24/16.
What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you? Anything else you'd like to share regarding your experiences as a PAWS Chicago volunteer?
I complete almost all of my marathon training with PAWS dogs at the adoption center. My workout with dogs is the best part of my week and I look at them as great personal trainers. Through volunteering at PAWS and being a member of Team PAWS, I have met some of my best friends. I’ve made amazing memories with PAWS dogs and people who love them, and accomplished goals that I couldn’t have without their support.