How long have you been a volunteer?
Are you asking in dog years or human years? I remember the day mom came home and she was all excited and was rambling on and on about me being a foster brother. I was trying to nap so I really didn’t pay much attention to her. It all happened so fast, I do remember that it was a few months after my first birthday. I going to say it was around April 2007. Wow, I’ve been doing this for six human years now, that’s a long time in dog years.
Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?
My primary focus is being a foster brother.
Is there an experience that has stood out during your time as a volunteer at PAWS Chicago?
Yes most definitely, it was when my buddy “Blanco,” well now he likes to be called “Chance, “ came to spend some time with us. It was the first time; mom finally brought home a fellow husky brother. We were buds. My poor buddy was recovering from his ACL surgery and needed a place where he was able to recover and be himself. He had a few rough years. We didn’t have to communicate verbally like you humans do to understand each other. We respected each other’s space and we got along just great. I was happy to see him find some great parents. I know that our type of breed can be stubborn at times; we aren’t the easiest to handle. It was nice to know there are other humans like mom who can appreciate our uniqueness... My buddy deserved that.
What do you like most about volunteering?
Well that’s easy. I like telling the others what to do. Mom is always telling me what to do, so when we get a new foster, I get to be” Top Dog.” I set the rules and tell them what to do. I get to take lead during our pack walks. I really enjoy that.
Well, I’ve got to be honest, there’s another reason why I like having fosters come stay with us. It gives me a little break from mom. Mom is huge on all that hugging, kissing, grooming and cuddling stuff. I’m not. It’s not my thing. I rather just chill and do my own thing. When the others are here, they get all of that TLC from mom. Which is cool by me - the more chill time for me! Seriously, does she have to try to brush my hair every day? Jeez, I’m a husky I leave a trail whether I’m brushed or not. Even though I get a break from mom it is satisfying to see the others receive that attention from her, some of them never had chance to experience it before.
Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago?
I was going to say because mom makes me but that’s not true because if I didn’t want to do it I would act out to make it difficult for her. I volunteer for PAWS because I can see they really do care about us. They are saving our lives and giving us a second chance. I think, ‘what if it was me who was homeless, sick and misunderstood?’ Being a foster brother, I get to see the difference I make in their lives. They get to experience what a dog’s life should be like. It’s nice to their personalities come out once they recover physically and emotionally. I won’t take all of the credit, mom helps out also. Mom and I make a pretty good foster team.
How many pets have you helped during your time as a volunteer?
Well I’ve been doing this for six human years, that’s too many for me to remember. I just know many have passed thru our home, some have been short term and others long term. One of them stayed with us for a year. That was my girl Meyna. She was sweet on me. I didn’t mind sharing my mom and home with her.
How do you help out your family members when a new foster comes home?
Well, when a new foster comes home, the first thing I do to help mom out is to make sure I model my behavior for the other fosters. When mom is doing introductions I communicate with my calm-submissive energy. My main concern is that mom doesn’t get hurt so they need to feel that balanced energy. I’m able to communicate this way to them to let them know they are safe and mom can be trusted. I’ll play with the ones who want to play and give space to those who need it. I share my beds and toys and everything with them to help mom build that trust. I know I was rambling on that I like doing this because I get to be Top Dog, but honestly, the rules that mom and I set are important; it helps them out. We need structure. If they learn to potty outside, walk calmly, respect the home, be social by sharing food and toys, it increases their chances of finding their forever home.
It’s the little things that I do to help mom out that counts. For example, I remember when Meyna had to have ACL surgery; it was a rough time for her. Before the surgery they tried alternative ways to see if it would improve without the surgery. Poor Meyna was “restricted “to the house for two months before she had her surgery. Talk about cabin fever!! After the surgery she was on lockdown, which meant no stairs; we have stairs in our home to go out to do our business. Luckily mom had already gone thru this with my buddy Chance and had her ways of dealing with this. We have a balcony in our home that mom and I like to hang out on during the summer. She puts a bed out there for me so I can chill whenever I want to. The neighbors must think my mom is crazy sometimes, especially when they see her brining in rolls of grass inside our home. Who does that?? Oh wait my mom does. She places the grass in the balcony to give them a spot to go potty and so they can still have a little bit of enjoyment of being outside.
I could sense that Meyna was having a hard time the first few days after her surgery. She needed some extra comforting that only I can provide. I would lay next to her for hours in that balcony on top that fresh sod. I wasn’t on lockdown, heck, I had the whole front and backyard all to myself, but I chose to stay inside and keep her company. That kept Meyna calm for her recovery and also helped my mom.
What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you?
Lessons of compassion. I know that the bond that mom and I share is what brought us to PAWS. I like knowing that I inspired her to be a foster mom. I enjoy seeing my mom happy. It’s not easy, at times. It’s hard not to get attached to the foster dogs, so there are many tears of sadness and happiness. I know when they leave my home they are thankful because without us opening up our home, they would have never had the chance at finding their family and a chance at a life they never knew existed.
It makes it all worthwhile.