What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?
Bethany: About three and a half years ago when I was on break from college, I wanted to find an activity to fill my free time during the day. My mom and I have always loved dogs so volunteering at an animal shelter seemed like an obvious choice. My mom mentioned PAWS Chicago, so we signed up for the Dog Town Level 1 class and began volunteering.
Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?
Bethany: We began volunteering in Dog Town, but soon felt guilty about leaving our own dogs home alone – and our dogs are very good about making us feel guilty. My mom looked into PAWS Chicago’s foster program which was a perfect fit. It enabled us to care for dogs around our schedules where I work evenings and my mom works during the day. There is always someone home to look after the animals.
Is there a favorite experience or fondest memory that has touched your heart during your time as a volunteer at PAWS Chicago?
Bethany: There have been so many rewarding experiences that it is hard to pick just one. Working with foster dogs can be so impactful. Many of them are terrified and starved for affection because of their life experience before arriving at PAWS. It’s so much fun to watch as they let their defenses down, become comfortable, and let their own playful personalities start to shine through. It’s always difficult not to get attached, and there are many fosters that we still think about and miss terribly – especially Terrier mixes Ellie May and Thatcher, Labradors that we nicknamed Bear and Blondie who we cared for since their infancy, and Nerf who became very dear to my heart.
Sharon: Most of our fosters are very easy to care for and love. Terriers have become favorites as they are very bright, easy to housebreak and train, and they are full of love and energy. It’s great to see these dogs learn to trust, play, socialize and become ready for adoption.
Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago?
Bethany: I’d like to think that if anything ever happened to me, there would be a safe place for my dogs to go where people who passionately care for animals would make sure that my dogs would find safe homes. This is one of the reasons I volunteer at PAWS Chicago. I also love watching each dog’s individual personality emerge once they’ve settled into the foster home and recover from the shock of arriving at the Rescue & Recovery Center and then a stranger’s home.
Sharon: I foster for PAWS because I love dogs and it works with my schedule. I love to see the foster dogs gain confidence, feel secure, learn basic commands and find wonderful homes.
Do you have any PAWS Chicago alumni pets - or any other pets - at home?
Bethany: My mom and I are guardians of pure bread Papillons - Zoe and Abbie.
Sharon: In addition to our two Papillon’s, three Chihuahua-mixes, Samwise, Souie and Bella, who are former PAWS fosters, joined our pack. Each had complications – including severe malnutrition, infected organs, and fear of people and other dogs. We provided love and care to each pup while they recuperated and were treated and adopted them after realizing we couldn’t give them up! Now, each of our dogs get along and help train new fosters that come into our home.