Volunteers Share: My Most Memorable Dakin Animal
April is National Volunteer Month, and in appreciation for the amazing work Dakin’s volunteers do to help the animals who come our way, we asked them about the most memorable animal they encountered as a volunteer who was cared for or treated at Dakin. Here are some of their responses:
My little dog Brandi who I adopted almost two years ago was one! She came from a less-than-desirable living condition and was very shut down and fearful. She was being evaluated both medically and behaviorally, due to her former life. Brandi hadn’t been spayed and needed dental work. When I first saw her in a staff member’s office, I was intrigued by her adorable face. She must have known, because she came over to me, licked my hand, and then climbed into my lap. I fostered her for a bit and Dakin took care of her medical issues while I determined whether her quality of life was going to improve from being in my home. She gained trust in me quickly and began to thrive after that and her medical procedures. I adopted her and she has blossomed into the sweetest girl. Best decision ever!
I will never forget Gertie. All my foster pets touch my heart, but she took a piece of it. She was hanging around at a dumpster when Anna from the Kitten Street Team captured her. Gertie was in pretty rough shape, and you could tell she had been struggling as a street cat for a while. I can't even tell you how loving she was. She couldn't snuggle enough. She was matted and a bit ratty looking. She let me brush her, she was eating and purring and I couldn't help but fall in love with her. Unfortunately, her extended time on the streets ended up taking its toll. It seemed like she was recovering, but her body was slowly shutting down. I brought her back to Dakin, but there was nothing that could be done. When I got the call that she couldn't be saved, my heart broke, but I'm grateful that her last days were in a warm home with plenty of food, snuggles, and lots of attention. I wanted more for her, but it wasn't meant to be. I am so grateful to Anna for being able to get her and I hope to help as many like her as I can to have a second chance off the streets and into a loving home. I have Gertie's picture on my foster wall. She may be gone, but I will never forget her.
I had been a volunteer photographer for only a few weeks when I was asked to document the intake of a dog neglect case. Since I had been busy taking adoption photos of cute kittens, bunnies, guinea pigs, and all the usual Dakin residents, I was not prepared for what I was about to experience. I had never seen a dog in such poor, malnourished condition. Yet, in spite of it all, Merlyn, a pit bull, managed a little tail wag and his best “pittie” smile during his photo session. Thanks to the efforts of diligent foster and vet care, I watched Merlyn blossom into a beautiful boy as he recovered from his ordeal and was eventually adopted.
Zoe, a senior spirit cat, was at Dakin for months. Her person had passed away and, thankfully, there was a place that would take a cat like Zoe, and it was Dakin. Being a spirit cat, she was hard to photograph. One day, after months of trying, I walked into the colony room and there she was, lying on a pink blanket, looking right into my eyes. I finally got the shot. When I left her, I told her that this was her day. She was ready to be adopted. Several days later, I returned to find her gone, but she hadn’t been adopted. Her health had deteriorated quickly. Her kidneys had failed and she had been sent on her peaceful journey. I shed a tear, but knowing she had been given a second chance and I got to see her blossom was special. I’ll always keep that final photo of her.
My most memorable interactions were with the Persian cats who came in with ringworm at the end of 2018. They included Vern, Scarlett, Rebecca, Mr. Clementine, and Maggie. I know there were two or three kittens that also came in, but I never met them. This was the first group of animals I’d ever worked with in the Contagious Disease Ward (CDW), and they were so wonderful. I have continued to dedicate time to the CDW since then. And I have adopted 3 ringworm cats of my own, once they recovered, of course. These cats helped me understand how important enrichment is in CDW. They were so friendly and appreciative.
Her name was Chickita. She was a hospice foster actually. She had cancer, but she was still feeling okay at the time so we took her home to give her an enjoyable end-of-life for the time she had left. We had her for about 2 months in the spring of 2017. She finally showed signs of being in pain so we brought her back to Dakin and said goodbye. She got along great with our 2 dogs Daisy & Prancer, and we got to take her camping with us, which she loved. We all grew to love her very much with her huge ears, big round eyes, and quirky personality. Although hospice fosters are hard emotionally - you know they are crossing the Rainbow Bridge instead of going to a family who will continue to love them - we do them because we want them to feel loved at the end of their life.
In April, and every month of the year, we are grateful for the incredible work our volunteers do to improve the lives of animals. It’s the few extra seconds they take to cuddle a guinea pig, shake a paw, let a kitten fall asleep in their arms, or give ferrets some play time out of their cages. We see the tireless work they put forward at our events, working the thrift shop, cleaning cages, doing laundry, fielding phone calls, and supporting every department. No matter what the task, their loving touches go a long way and make every day brighter…for all of us. We thank you!