Sunday, October 28, 2012

October's Volunteer of the Month


Nick is on constant duty at the shelter. There aren't too many dogs who don't know him! Thanks for being so involved with all of the residents, Nick!

What do you do when you're not at the shelter?
I'm a Curriculum Developer at, so I write online drivers ed and traffic school courses. I also manage the company's email marketing program. I like to drive, cook, read, watch movies, and find good places to eat. I also enjoy taking pictures-- I started an Instagram account for the shelter (@berkeleyanimals), and another volunteer has taken up the torch and is posting a lot of cool pictures for us. My own account is @nkostalas, if you want to see more pictures of our shelter animals.
In July of last year, my girlfriend and I fostered and then quickly adopted a darling calico cat from BACS-- Blossom! She was getting really fed up with the shelter, but when we got her home she turned out to be an incredibly sweet, quirky, mellow, and loving lap cat. When I'm not at the shelter I try to treat her like a queen. Blossom is living a pretty good life right now!
Blossom waits for Nick to come back from the shelter.

Why did you initially decide to volunteer at BACS?
Dating back about a year from now, I was following BACS on Facebook and visited the shelter a handful of times. It was so hard to just pet the dogs through the fences-- they always wanted me to come inside. For months-- inexplicably-- I didn't think to volunteer at the shelter, until someone from BADRAP suggested it while I was interviewing to volunteer for their barn crew. I signed up at BACS right away and quickly fell in love with my volunteer work. I wish I had started when I moved to Berkeley for college seven years ago!

What are your favorite things about volunteering?
My absolute favorite thing about volunteering is seeing so many deserving dogs (and cats, and other animals!) find happy homes. That's the most important part of the experience for me. Another one of my favorite things about volunteering is to see the dogs make progress, whether from a shivering, frightened wreck to a trusting, happy dog, or from a rambunctious and pushy puppy to a polite and well-behaved companion. Our dogs are able to make this progress because of the wonderful work of BACS's many caring volunteers, the heartfelt caretaking of the shelter workers, and the dogs' own abundance of hope, trust, and resilience.
Of course, I also love doggy kisses, playtime under the overpass, BADRAP classes, belly rubs and butt scratches, runs along the lagoon, snacks at Waterside Café, sunsets over the marina, and relaxing breaks on the grass in the sun.

Nick works Miles in BAD RAP class.

Who are your favorite dogs, past and present?
My favorite past dogs are Oscar, Ozzie, Charlie, Raider, Eagle, Smokey, Paco, Brody, Godiva, Breeze, Josie, Hazel, Willie, Molly Moo, Jazmin, Carlos, Perfect, Boiboi, Cupid, Max, and Sassy Pants.
My favorite current dogs are Miles, Mama Bear, Sasha, Hero, Decker, Brass, Niki, Dawn, and Joey.
Charlie hitches a ride.


Leslie Strunk said...

Nick, we're so proud of your work at BACS and everything you do! Love, Mom

Christy said...

Your signature move! Holding dogs like babies! I know they love it as much as you do :] Congratulations! :D

Lisa Lee said...

Hi Nick, I"d love to hear your thoughts about Hero. He's my secret love and we're thinking about foster/adopt.

Nick Kostalas said...

hi lisa, i'm happy to help! hero is a wonderful boy, one of the most instantly affectionate dogs i've ever seen in the shelter. he LOVES people, and he loves affection-- he's very submissive. he's pretty easy to walk, curious but not too forceful, if i remember correctly. i know he's made friends with some dogs at the shelter, and i've never seen him show aggression.

if you want to talk more specifically about what you're looking for, you can email me at i can also put you in touch with his handler in obedience classes, if you'd like. thanks for your interest!