A Day with a Homeless Dog

A Day with a Homeless Dog

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My name is Natalie......

  My name is Natalie and here's my story of how I got started volunteering at an animal shelter.  I hope it can inspire you to step up and do something GREAT, like volunteering, also!
  Ever since I can remember I have been a lover of animals.  Growing up I had every pet imaginable: dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, birds, you name it!  My heart has always gone out to all God's creatures, especially dogs. 
  Now I'm a teacher and I love my job, but I've always felt like something was missing in my life.  I knew that I was meant to do more.  And I knew it had to be something with animals.
  One evening in August of 2010 I was browsing pets on Craigs List, cringing at all the "free to a good home" ads and wishing that I could just somehow help all these dogs that needed homes.  I kept seeing dogs' ads from the KCMO animal shelter, formerly Halfway Home Pet Adoptions and currently Kansas City Pet Project.  So I went to the website and browsed around.  A fire was lit inside me when I read about volunteering and I immediately submitted the volunteer application online.  The next day I was contacted and told to come to a volunteer training.  I was nervous and excited at the same time!
  That following Sunday I made the 45 minute drive from my house to the shelter, and that's when I met Natasha.  We clicked instantly and she showed me the ropes of walking the dogs.  I remember feeling so overwhelmed at first; so many dogs just staring at me, desperately seeking my love and attention.  But after just one day, I was hooked.
  That was almost 2 years ago and I still look forward to making that drive to the shelter every Sunday.  For 4-5 hours I forget about all the stress and obstacles in my life and devote my attention to these dogs.  It's as therapeutic for me as it is for the dogs, or the babies as I like to call them :)  I usually walk between 10 and 15 dogs every Sunday, sometimes more.  It depends on how many volunteers we have.  The more volunteers we have, the more time we can spend with each dog because it lowers the amount that we each have to walk in order to get all the babies walked.
  As I walk down the rows of kennels with my leash in hand, each dog perks up as I pass them, hoping and praying that they get to go on a walk that day.  It may only be a short walk, 10 minutes, but that's 10 minutes of their day that they get my full and undivided attention.  And you cannot imagine how appreciative these dogs are of that 10 minutes you give them.  It always surprises me how quickly they trust me and love me.  Has a human every given you this chance so instantly?
  Now I know that everyone is busy, trust me I know.  I’m a teacher and a coach, I work a part-time job, I own my own home, my own car, pay all my own bills, have 3 pets of my own, and somehow I’ve managed to fit this into my schedule.  Sundays work best for me.  “But I go to church on Sundays, then lunch with my family, and blah blah blah.” I know, I know.  But is there just 3 hours a week that you can devote to giving dogs a chance to breathe fresh air, to feel grass on their paws, to get a scratch behind their ears, and to hear loving encouragement from a human?  These dogs depend on us and it’s not fair.  It’s not fair that their survival depends on the human race.  Humans that have wronged them in the past, but yet when one human shows them love they have the ability to forgive and to love us unconditionally once again.
  I will continue to walk these dogs and share their stories.  I may not be able to save them all, but I always remember these words: “Saving one animal may not change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal.”  And that’s what makes it all worth it.  So this is my story so far, but you have not heard the last from me.  Please consider volunteering at your local animal shelter, it could really change your life.  And please continue to read and share our blog because Natasha, Jensen, and I are just trying to create awareness and let people know what “A Day with a Homeless Pet” is really like.
Thank you so much!

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