MY VOLUNTEER RESUME
As you read on, you'll find that my resume will focus on my animal background - as well it should since that is what you will be most interested in reading about. However, to give balance to my life, there have been other volunteer efforts unrelated to animal welfare that I was very compassionate about. I feel some of my most important contributions to society was as a foster parent to children at risk along with my work in domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse.
Where it all began
1975. It all started as the typical animal lover scenario picking up and saving stray dogs and cats. It's like putting the toothpaste back in the tube. Once it starts, there's just no going back.
1978 -1981 Talk about strays. 2 legged or 4. Didn't seem to matter. Once you learn about all the problems in the world, you can't go back and pretend they don't exist. As much as I wish I could spread fairy dust and change it, I could only help with one random act of kindness at a time. So in 1978, when there was a need for foster homes, I took in this sweet 12 year old Native American girl suffering from neglect by a mother addicted to alcohol and drugs. She eventually connected with family members and found her way to the Colville reservation.
1982. I recall in particular when I bought my first home in West Seattle which couldn't have been more than 800 sq ft total. This poor deaf rescued sheep dog was huge in comparison. I don't know his background but I do remember that he would circle the living room over and over and over....oh my, it just never stopped. He would run on top of the furniture as he circled the room again and again. I never did understand the behavior, just being a kid myself and no experience, but I found him a great home in the country with lots a acreage for him to run.
1982 was also when I was introduced to ferrets for the first time. His name was Pudge. Back then nobody had a clue what to do with them. As with most inexperienced ferret owners, he escaped and I never saw him again. Thinking back on all the mistakes I've made is just heartbreaking. Applying what I've learned is the only thing that helps me to move past it.
And of course, all through this era, there were always more rescues. My husband worked swingshift and never knew what he would find when he walked in the door. He pretended to be mad but I knew better. He loved them as much as I did.
1988 was when I begin to get serious and developed a deeper understanding into the world of unwanted animals. That was when I found Girl at the Humane Society. Frightened beyond belief. Hissing and growling from the corner of her cage. My macho husband wasn't intimidated and pulled her out. Once removed from the cage, she wrapped herself around him and clung for dear life. She was with us for 19 wonderful years.
Empty Nest Syndrome? The 2 legged kids are teenagers. Now what?
1995-1997 I went through some intense training to become a crisis line/safe house counselor for the Eastside Domestic Violence Program. Trying to help women in abusive relationships was one of the most challenging and complicated of all volunteer positions I held.
2000 became a year to help those with alcohol and drug abuse after experiencing the addiction of a family member. I spent many afternoons away from my job while I trained as a crisis line counselor. I wonder about my own priorities sometimes...
AND THEN CAME....POLITICS POLITICS POLITICS.
God Almighty. Never in a million years would I have guessed that the world of animal rescue could be so....so....divided. And PASSIONATE. I truly believe in my heart that there are no other people on earth who possess such a fierce love or are more dedicated to their cause. BUT with that, they are rigid in their beliefs and have no tolerance for what they consider mutiny. Either shut up, go along or get banished to Siberia. Probably my own biggest downfall is my big mouth. Something inside me insists that I speak the truth because people are deserving of it but lo and behold...not everyone agrees. Go figure. I have no tact either. Maybe that's my problem...but I digress.
2000 became the year of true professional animal rescue affiliations. Before I move on, let me just say that no matter what the issues are with any organization, they all do great things for animals. My personal experience is just that - personal. It should not, under any circumstances be considered as negative towards any of these nonprofit rescues. Without them, we would be in BIG trouble.
Pasados Safe Haven. This is really my very first attempt to join the animal rescue world. I didn't stay long. I just couldn't. Pasado's has to be one of the most proactive organizations I have even seen effectively protect the lives of animals. Not just pets but all animals in need of protection...from man...by man. Their work is incredible and one of the few who rolls up their sleeves and pursues prosecution of animal abusers to the fullest extent of the law. They actively recruit people just to hang out at the courthouse which speaks volumes to the judge and jury. Animal abuse is a serious offense. A felony (in Washington). Pasado's intends to take full advantage. However, it was a necessary evil for them to reach the public with detailed accounts of animal abuse and I wasn't able to desensitize, which for me would be the only way to keep my sanity. I could be a body count at the courthouse, but I didn't want to know why I was there.
PAWS. I entered naive and left in shock. There is a difference between no kill and low kill. We will leave it at that. It didn't fit with my belief system but I gained tremendous knowledge and experience. This is where I learned I had a gift with feral kittens.
Purrfect Pals. What a great, great, great rescue. As with any rescue, they are overwhelmed and not enough help. Living so far away just made it too difficult to keep up. This is such an unusual rescue/shelter and I strongly urge everyone to go visit. It will surprise you.
Homeward Pet went through a board/employee/volunteer transition while I was there and I don't do politics very well. It was very uncomfortable. I am so glad they weathered the storm and came out on top.
MEOW Cat Rescue Another absolutely wonderful rescue group. Exceptional people and well organized.
Feral Care, a group of very compassionate people doing what they can to help educate people about managing feral colonies and offering support, tips, references and referrals.
Needing a break (read shelter politics), I decided to step back and just enjoy being a pet owner for awhile. HAH! What bunk. What denial.
And so began the next chapter. Enter the FERRET world
2004. Ferret rescue is synonymous with Martyr. The first 3-4 years with a ferret is heaven. Full of joy, laughter, fun and entertainment. The last 3-4 years is heartbreaking, full of grief, sleepless nights, meds, emergency vet visits and costs, helplessness, hopelessness, anger, depression and most likely - euthanasia. It's the only time in my life that I wish I could do over again and pretend they don't exist. Selfish as that sounds, it comes from experiencing all those feelings for 5 looooong years. As much as I'd like to share, I could literally write a book that would take you a lifetime to read so I'm going to stay focused on my resume.
Washington Ferret Rescue, my first contact with the ferret shelter world. Far different that cats and dogs but certainly politics abound! I felt I could do more on my own and dedicated my time to reaching out and connecting with other shelters/rescues throughout the U.S. What an experience!
And finally, Little Dudes Ferret Ranch. From rescue/shelter/outreach/education to hospice and sanctuary. How could I not provide a safe place for the sick and dying? Back to the toothpaste thing again. You can't go back once you already know. Not a smart move however. Emotional burnout ensued. Every day was another day of crying for another lost soul. My good friend once said that scar tissue forms on your heart every time you lose a ferret. When I asked her what happens when there's no more room for scar tissue, she said you grow a bigger heart. ???? My chest cavity isn't that big.
And so my journey brings me here. To you. I spent my life giving back to the community and if I ever had a debt, it's certainly paid up now. I intend to spend my remaining years doing something I love, yet still provide a valuable service. A service that brings joy, the excitement that comes from interacting with different animals (uh...and people too, yes), the satisfaction and pride when my effort is recognized and appreciated. A service I will actually get paid for! In return, you get honest, dependable, capable, experienced and loving care for your pets. Can there be anything more mutually beneficial?
Need to feel warm and fuzzy?
Turn your sound on, unless you don't have an under-standing boss