True Heroes

Just like comments about giving up a foster dog, if I had a dollar for every time someone said, “I don’t know how you do it” about working in a shelter, I’d be able to buy a Kong for every homeless dog in Maryland. It’s true: working in a shelter is very, very difficult.  But at the end of the day it’s our job and it’s our paycheck. We go home night after night thinking about the homeless animals we care for, only to get back up and do it the next day. Because we love it, but also because it’s our job.

The people who are really something remarkable are the ones who put their entire heart and soul into helping animals on a volunteer basis. I am the minority as a paid shelter employee – most people out there fighting the good fight to save animals not only don’t get a paycheck for it, but they invest much of their own money.  There have been days so tough that, if this wasn’t my career, I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have walked away and never looked back. I can’t believe there are people who are in shelters walking dogs every single day, or people running rescues outside of their 9 to 5 jobs, or people who do transports every weekend not knowing where the animal will end up – and they don’t walk away. They stick it out through the most emotionally taxing times, because they know the animals need them no matter what. That is amazing to me.

I am blown away when I talk to the people who do this as essentially their second job. I know we don’t do it for the money, even those who get paid – but hearing how much passion and drive are in some of these volunteers is inspiring.  They fall in love with the animals they work with just as much – if not more – than others do.

Last week a poem circulated that a volunteer from a local shelter wrote. I’m really not one for words, especially poems, but when I read this the lines jumped off the screen and straight into my heart. This poem really showed me how much these volunteers take on when they come into a shelter and put their love on the line for these homeless animals.  This volunteer is so attached to this dog, almost like it’s his own.

The air is crisp, my paws sense the cold concrete floor.
I’m encaged in metal that lacks an inviting decor.
Another season begins and I am still here.
Are my days numbered? I shiver in fear.
You see I live a sheltered life devoid of endless fun.
On most days I get no more than 20 minutes out in the sun.
Patrons pass over me cuz I’m a misunderstood breed.
Unfairly prejudged no matter my plead.
So I whimper and lick the lock on my door.
Oh why can’t it be your hand, your face? Rescue me, I implore.

So thank you to those who volunteer so much of their lives to helping these animals. Shelters, rescues and advocacy groups could not function without you – and not nearly as many lives would be saved without your help.

9 thoughts on “True Heroes

  1. Karen Wagner

    Thank you for writing this. I recently applied at a local shelter here in WI to volunteer and will be going for my orientation on November 3. It is because of you and a few other’s that have inspired me to help this way! I am very excited about this and am looking forward to it! I want to learn everything from the ground on up. They even have what they call The Pit Crew and when I feel more comfortable with ALL “types” of dog’s (I have a cat at home) and everything else, then I would love to advocate for the “pitties” or “pit bull” type dog’s as well as work with them:))). So thank you for all that you do and to everyone out there that either volunteer’s, adopt’s, foster’s, etc….all of you have inspired me and are my hero’s too!! xoxo

  2. I love that poem, it brought tears to my eyes. The shelter that I volunteer at is staffed with such nice folks, its almost overwhelming sometimes how thankful they are for just the smallest things. I was very touched when they took my “Everydog” post from our blog and added it to their website.

  3. Laura M

    Agh! I need to remember to NOT read your blog in the morning at work because how do I explain my teary-eyes?!?
    At the shelter I volunteer with, sometimes our response to the question of “how do you do it?” is: “we do it for the money” ;) obviously said in a joking tone because no one does this for money.

  4. Aw! What a great post! At the event on Sunday someone asked me if “this” (meaning working with a dog rescue) was my part time job. I was like “Nope! I volunteer, I just get to do this in my free time.” The best jobs pay in puppy kisses anyway ;)

  5. Such a beautiful poem and I couldn’t agree more. Most shelters simply could not function without the support and hard work of volunteers. There are branches of the Nova Scotia SPCA that have no paid staff at all and yet they are still out there, saving animals while working full-time jobs on the side. It’s inspiring and I don’t know if I could do that either.

  6. Wow, what a great post, it made me start crying! I’m one of those 9-5ers that then basically works another full time job helping run a rescue. I think it’s funny, because I see things exactly the opposite of you. I am in awe of those of you that can work in a shelter. Five minutes inside one is about all I can handle. It takes all of us to make it work though and I think YOU are awesome for working in a shelter!

  7. Les Markovitz

    Thank all of you who have read my poem and find it inspirational. I wrote it in hopes that people will understand that Pit Bulls are just as loving as any other breed.
    Les Markovitz

  8. Pingback: Kobe’s Big Break | Peace, Love, & Fostering

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