No Better Way to Spend the Weekend

As if working 40+ hours in a week at the shelter wasn’t enough for me, I more often than not find myself volunteering for something dog related on the weekends (as you can tell from this blog).  I keep asking myself when the day will be that I burn out – but so far there is no sign of that. I absolutely love doing all the things I sign myself up for. There are so many perks to volunteering, no matter what cause you’re helping with.  There’s got to be a reason why I continually offer my time to help these animals, and believe me – the “good feeling” isn’t always it. Check out a few reasons why I find volunteering so awesome:

1.  It’s usually FUN! I wouldn’t sign myself up for something I thought wouldn’t be enjoyable. Volunteer opportunities are often a great time to meet new people, hang out with animals (or kids or new adults, whatever your cause may be), and help with activities you’re interested in.  Not surprisingly, there is a reason why thousands upon thousands of people across their country donate their time – because it’s fun!

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2.  You get to open the world up for an animal. This generally only applies to bringing animals to adoption events, but boy is it one of the best parts! I brought this adorable cutie to an event on Saturday, and I can almost guarantee it was the first time she’d been in a place with so many new sites and smells. She’s a versatile little thing, so she loved it (it’s important to keep in mind some dogs may not).  Plus then she slept like a baby when she went back to the shelter that night!

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3. You make really great friends. Hands down one of the best things about being so involved in the sheltering/rescue community the past year and half has been the friends I’ve met. Whether through work, through fostering, or through volunteering – it’s amazing the amount of people you meet and click with when you’re doing something you love! Well, I guess it’s not that surprising considering most of us do it for similar reasons, but it’s still an awesome perk. I know I have made some friends for life through doing this. Volunteering can be a very social experience!

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4.  Once you put in time doing what’s needed, you can spend time doing what’s wanted. After a day of volunteering on Saturday, I found myself curled up on the floor of the shelter offices with this handsome boy named Admiral once all my duties were finished.  Often times if you’re volunteering at an event you have an allotted time you’re needed for help, and then some down time to do what you want.

Here’s a hint: it’s the perfect way to get into an event for free! Don’t take this the wrong way because obviously I don’t want people mooching off rescue groups, BUT I have definitely seen folks who can’t afford to attend an event themselves (usually a gala type or something similar) offer to volunteer so they can still experience the evening while helping out. It’s a win-win for the organization! Plus I have seen volunteers still donate to raffles or buy merchandise, etc. to do their part (in addition to giving their time – did I mention volunteers are awesome!?).

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5.  Resume booster! Volunteering shows that you’re willing to give up your own time for a greater cause, and that can be very appealing to a potential employer.  Not to mention there are a lot of skills to be learned as a volunteer, depending on what exactly you’re helping with.  Don’t think that just because you’re not getting paid means it might not be great experience for a job position!

6.  The “good feeling.” It’s pretty obvious that most people volunteer at least in part because they know how much it helps, and doing your part sure makes ya feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  I certainly cannot complain about spending an afternoon spreading the word about adoption with a pup who was grateful to get out of the shelter. Sure I could have been out shopping with my friends or relaxing at home, but I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to try and get more animals adopted.

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I know I’ve spammed you with this message enough on the blog. . . but consider volunteering!  There are so many groups out there who could use your help.  Volunteers are absolutely invaluable to most non-profits.


Helping Kobe Cope

Yesterday we celebrated two lucky dogs who were pulled by Bully Paws and are excelling outside of the shelter. I now want to share with you how Kobe’s story is progressing! Remember Kobe? He was the lucky brown “pit bull” dog who made it out of the shelter with Jasmine’s House after four months of waiting:

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Kobe was luckier than we realized when he left with Jasmine’s House that day.  The shelter took quite a toll on Kobe, and he developed severe anxiety by the time he got out. At his foster home he made it clear how much he hated being alone by doing some pretty serious damage the first day his foster parents left for work (anyone with dogs that have separation anxiety can relate to this, I’m sure).

Jasmine’s House and Kobe’s fosters immediately put a plan into action to combat his separation anxiety. It quickly became evident that Kobe didn’t need just the usual tricks to help his anxiety, he needed rehabilitation.  This would require lots of time, patience and dedication – which is exactly what his fosters & Jasmine’s House gave him.

Every day Kobe’s foster drops him off at Heather’s house (the foster coordinator for Jasmine’s House) before they go to work at 6:30 am. Kobe spends the day with Heather, and then gets picked up on his foster dad’s way home. Heather also happens to be Joanie’s foster! It turns out that those two are perfect for each other, and after spending a few days across baby gates and on parallel walks, they are now almost inseparable.

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Another doggy friend can really help dogs with separation anxiety – though it often doesn’t completely cure it. The regimen for Kobe is an intensive one, starting out with trips into the crate for only one minute or less. The point is to slowly build him up to where he can tolerate being alone for five minutes, and then thirty minutes, and then hours. This process can be very slow going, but it is essential for a dog who needs to learn that being alone is not the end of the world. For a more detailed description of crate training/combatting separation anxiety, I recommend reading Patricia McConnell’s book I’ll Be Home Soon.

Heather emailed me with a milestone just the other week: she went to walk one of her dogs for 40 minutes and when she returned, Kobe was fast asleep on his bed (next to Joanie in her crate). Then, I received another update that Kobe had been left alone for four hours and again, he was totally fine.  These are huge, huge victories for dogs like Kobe with such severe anxiety, and they were accomplished with consistency, patience and lots of hard work.

Kobe is no where close to anxiety-free yet, but he has come leaps and bounds in just a few short weeks.  He still does not like to be crated when left alone, and doesn’t appreciate tie-downs either – so he might be a dog who just won’t be able to stay in a crate. There are plenty of non-crate trained dogs out there; that’s not super important. But what is important is that Kobe doesn’t feel like he needs to totally lose his marbles when his humans leave – which it seems like he is learning.

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When he is not practicing being anxiety-free, Kobe is working towards his CGC!  Kobe participates in CGC class at Canine Lifestyle Academy, and he is quickly excelling with the help of his loving and dedicated foster parents.

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He lives with another female dog and six cats, who I hear he is getting along well with! So even as Kobe works on getting his ducks in a row in terms of anxiety, he continues to be the darling dog we know and love.  He is lucky to have so many dedicated people in his life willing to work with him instead of just throwing in the towel and saying he is too difficult. He is going to make a family very happy one day!

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Joanie, the little black pup, is available for adoption through Jasmine’s House rescue! Kobe is not available just yet, but he will be one day. If you’re interested in either, head to the Jasmine’s House website and fill out an application.