Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with many different non -profit organizations from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The ALS Association, Make-A-Wish Kansas, and have helped various fundraisers through being the Director of Community Relations for two minor league sports teams. When working with these larger charities and sometimes doing tasks such as stuffing welcome bags it is easy to get lost in the thought of “I am only one person. Am I really making much of a difference?”
At those moments I like to think of the quote that is related to dogs “To the world you might be just one person, but to your dog you are the world.” The same can be said for volunteers. You might just be one person, but to that person (or animal) that you helped you are everything.
I love volunteering for any organization, but my heart is most pulled to the world of rescue dogs. Let me tell you the story of how one person saved my dog and ultimately changed my world.
Just over 3 years ago I began volunteering with the Kansas Humane Society. At the time I did not have a dog and I knew that would not last long. Within a couple of weeks of volunteering I tried to adopt two dogs and both adoptions fell through (the dogs were adopted though, I just wasn’t first on the list!). One day around that time I was out running and came across a little stray terrier. I tried to track her down but she was just too scared and would not come to me. A couple of weeks later I received a text from my volunteer coordinator with a little terrier dog named Gretchen that was currently in their “Canine Courage” program. This program is for dogs who are too scared to be around the other dogs and to have many different volunteers helping them and are not currently adoptable. The dogs in this program are secluded and only specially trained volunteers work with them to try to get them to the point of being adoptable. It is an amazing program. He wanted to know if I would be interested in her because currently she was not able to be put up for public adoption.
I decided to go visit Gretchen, and the second I saw her I was certain she was the same dog that ran from me. I also saw a note on her cage that she only had a couple more days to show improvement and begin eating or sadly they would have to put her down as they cannot let her starve to death. As she sat in the corner of her cage in a ball shaking from fear of me I knew she would be mine. I found out that she had been scheduled to be put down (she had been there three weeks and was not really eating) a couple of days before. However, one of the Canine Courage volunteers, Tammie, had taken to Gretchen. When Tammie found out that Gretchen was to be put down she immediately begged for more time. She and Gretchen had formed a bond and Tammie saw the love that she had. She knew Gretchen would be just fine if she could just get out. Unfortunately since she was not eating and was terrified of everything she was unable to be put up for adoption.
I came back the next day when Tammie was there and got to see just how much Gretchen clearly loved and trusted Tammie. She would even eat a little around her. I said I’ll take her and I will never forget the look in Tammie’s eyes when she said thank you and gave me a huge hug. If it was not for Tammie’s love, patience and bond with Gretchen, my path would have never crossed with her and I would have never had my Desi. I named her Desi, short for Destiny, as I feel the first two adoptions fell through for a reason. It was a tough first month. While Desi took to me immediately she still did not eat much and was scared of everything. Through much time, training and love (and trying many different types of food!) she is now a happy, strong, sassy, crazy, full of life watch dog who I could not imagine my life without. Tammie changed not only Desi’s life, but mine as well.
So next time you feel you are not making a difference, please know that there is at least one person who is going to feel the effects of your work.
Rescue dogs are my passion. Do what is your passion. I want to help make a difference in our community one person and one day at a time. Each time a client buys or sells a home with me I donate a day of my time volunteering to the KC non-profit of their choice, and I invite them to join me! Together we can all make a difference. Go and change the world for your “Gretchen”.