I’m not sure I ever really talked about why I started volunteering with S.N.O.R.T. – besides loving dogs, obviously. It’s clear from various posts over the past year that I do volunteer (two foster dogs are evidence of that!) but I tend to focus more on the dogs than my volunteer experience.
Let me backtrack a bit. I moved to Central Pennsylvania in August of 2010 to take a job as the Director of Athletic Communications for a Division III school with 23 varsity sports. I had (have) one, 10-month assistant. When I moved out here, my apartment wasn’t ready, I was forced into two different temporary housing situations and I was basically thrown into the start of fall sports, which included one huge source of stress for me – football season.
Now, things got easier and Marty and I started hanging out roughly six months after I got here. But it was still lonely. I did not have a lot of close friends here; all of my friends were either back at my previous job or where I grew up in New Jersey. I desperately wanted a dog but our apartment had a no-dogs policy.
Finally I convinced Marty that we should seriously look into moving into a dog-friendly apartment and start contacting English bulldog breeders (my mind was set on getting a bullie!). So we did just that.
We brought Lucy home in May of 2012 and like I always say, she was the best gift I ever could have gotten for myself! It sounds self-centered to look at it that way, I suppose, but she really has been the best addition to our home.
Unfortunately loneliness was (and still is!) an issue. Athletic jobs are very transient; I’ve already had three jobs at three different schools in just seven-plus years of working! Friends in an athletic department that you make one year are likely gone the next. So, six months after getting Lucy, I figured volunteering might help ease some of the loneliness.
When I reached out to S.N.O.R.T. in the fall of 2012, I initially said I was interested in volunteering with transports, website writing and more but that we weren’t going to foster at the moment. Our apartment isn’t huge and Lucy was still only eight or nine months old.
But then I got an email about a female English bulldog who was being freed from a puppy mill in Lancaster, Pa. – really not all that far from where I live. I immediately forwarded the email to Marty and while I acted as if I were half-serious, I really did want to foster this unknown dog. Fortunately Marty agreed to foster; I’m still not sure if he really wanted to, but he let me go ahead with the process anyway.
We got a quick home visit and approval to foster and home came Cindy (now Nellie).
Cindy’s foster period lasted over six months and was emotionally draining. We absolutely loved her and if money hadn’t been an issue likely would have kept her. She was a complete and total sweetheart who was physically broken down but so full of love!
After Cindy moved on to her forever home, we agreed no more fostering through at least the fall season. It is our busiest time with a lot of long days, long weekends and a lot of travel. But then I got a phone call from S.N.O.R.T. looking for a new foster home for Snowy and of course I said yes.
Snowy is already a long-term foster as she’s been with us for roughly four months and still has to undergo eye surgery and her spay surgery. She will be just as hard to let go as Cindy was and let me tell you, it’s hard. Especially when you’ve had a dog for months and months.
Like Cindy, I’d love to keep Snowy but money remains an issue. Now, I’m sure we could keep her and we wouldn’t lose our home or starve, but there are things like savings accounts, retirement funds and emergency funds that need contributions more than we need a second dog. So in a few months we’ll go through the process of finding her home and like last time, I’ll be an emotional wreck for a few days (ok, weeks).
But this volunteering stuff has eased some of my loneliness and made me happier. Sure it’s really, really hard to let the foster dogs go, but for however long I have them, our foster dogs make me very happy and satisfied.
So there’s the story of how and why I began volunteering. A better experience that I could have wished for.