Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

Joan Marie Dauber

Volunteering at PAWS Chicago has educated me and helped me to be an advocate for a truly noble cause - the No Kill movement.

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?  
I just celebrated my five-year anniversary of volunteering at PAWS Chicago. In 2010 I was on my own for the first time in years and was looking for something in my life that wasn't just about me. I had seen PAWS Chicago magazines and decided to wander in one day. I came home and signed up for my orientation, and haven't stopped since!

Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?
My primary focus is my role as a Gold Star Dog Town Volunteer, which means I help dogs who need some training, who have behavior issues or are fearful, and who have been with us the longest. I work on their leash skills with walks, help pair dogs at our Adoption Center, and take them to Training Classes with our wonderful trainers Jordan and Joan. On a monthly basis, I also am a Location Manager for Dog Town, a Lead Volunteer, a Family Service Volunteer Host, and a Dog Behavior Class Instructor. I have fostered a dog and a few kittens as well. I also love to volunteer for media appearances - it's so fun to take dogs and cats to TV studios! I am also trained to volunteer in Kitty City, but my own cats get jealous.

Is there a favorite experience that has stood out during your time as a volunteer at PAWS Chicago?
I always remember my first shift - it was a Sunday morning and there was an elderly white poodle who was just shaking in his room. I just stayed with him most of the morning, keeping him company and talking and singing to him. I left that day very sad, thinking no one would ever want to take an older dog like this when there were so many cute puppies. I came back the following week and he'd been adopted! That's when I realized PAWS was committed to finding ALL the pets homes, regardless of age, training, breed, etc. 

How does what do you do for a career apply to what you do as a volunteer? 
I am a classically trained singer and voice teacher. I think my experience in this area gives me a unique ability to communicate with people and animals, and to pick up on very subtle and sensitive cues from the pets I'm working with. When I teach Dog Behavior classes, I am always struck in how dogs and people really learn information and respond to positive reinforcement in the same way. Being a performer is very helpful for special events, talking to the public, leading other volunteers, and generally handling all the unexpected things that may come up on any given day. And yes, I have worked with some dogs on their singing, particularly two Husky mix sisters named Harley and Hannah. They were amazing! Skillful use of your voice is extremely helpful when training dogs and using breathing to bring a pet's energy up or down is a great tool as well. Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago?  Love is love, and I believe that anytime anyone does something out of love, whether it's for their fellow human, or an animal, or for a cause, or for a hobby, it's a force for good in this world. My parents were animal lovers and animal welfare was a value that was instilled in us. Now that my eyes have been opened to the pets who aren't lucky enough to end up at PAWS Chicago, I'm committed to helping them one-by-one and to help the bigger No Kill movement to help as many as we can and change the world. I love being with all the pets and with such wonderful, like-hearted people that work and volunteer at PAWS.

Do you have any pets at home? 
Yes, indeed. We have three cats, all from PAWS: Danny, a black cat, Amana, a pretty tabby, and our foster failure, Tobias, a ginger cat. Recently, a dear friend of my husband's passed away, and we took in her eight-year-old French bulldog Lolli Pop. 

Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events that supports animals?
I have volunteered for multiple Fur Balls, Run For Their Lives, Angels with Tails Michigan Avenue Adoption Events, and this year I volunteered for my first Animal Magnetism. I have also volunteered for other races and other off-site special adoption events. 

What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you?  
Volunteering at PAWS Chicago has educated me and helped me to be an advocate for a truly noble cause - the No Kill movement. Working with animals has made me a more patient, compassionate person. And I have made so many friends here. "Come for the animals, stay for the people." My fellow volunteers are what really inspired me to continue training to become a Gold Star Volunteer and help dogs that can be initially challenging to handle. We are a family there and I am proud to know everyone at PAWS. I'm here for life!