Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January's Volunteer of the Month

Wow, Courtney is a jack of all trades at the shelter! In addition to dogwalking, she teaches dog walking orientation classes, mentors new volunteers, and takes dogs to BAD RAP classes. Thanks for being such a good friend to all of the dogs, Courtney!
What do you do when you're not at the shelter?
Well,I’m what some would call a “failed foster”… that is, somehow I went home with an 8 week old shepherd puppy for the week and couldn’t bring him back. So when I’m not at the shelter the now 9 month old, 70lb puppy and I are always on the go whether it’s out for a hike or a romp on the beach! It’s also my last semester at Cal where I’m studying Psychology and Social Welfare. Sometimes Bryson even gets to come to school with me strutting his therapy-dog-in-training vest. My hope is to have him working beside me helping children who have experienced severe trauma. Between 17 units at Cal, a puppy, and volunteering there’s not much spare time but when I get the chance I love to read, practice yoga, and run.

Brycie's first day of school
Why did you initially decide to volunteer at BACS?
First of all, let me tell you that I was in dog withdrawal having recently movd into an apartment that didn't allow dogs. Of course the next best thing was having a dog upstairs but it just wasn't enough! Knowing how passionate I am about dogs, my landlord introduced me to our neighbor who was already volunteering at BACS. She and I talked one day and the next there was a volunteer application and schedule of volunteer orientations left in my mailbox. I even got squeezed into an already-full orientation. I was sold! That was last March and I haven't been able to stay away since.
I'm walking up to the shelter and there's a crying puppy getting his picture taken...Love at first sight; end of story.
What are your favorite things about volunteering?
You’re asking me to narrow it down? Hmmm… that’s going to be hard. As much as I love teaching the dog walking class, chatting it up with the staff and other volunteers, and taking dogs out for a stroll or jog around the lake, I would have to say I look forward to BAD RAP every weekend. Whichever dog I’m working with I am absolutely devoted to… they’re my buddy and I pour a lot of love and time into them. Few things are better than watching dogs turn from being overwhelmed, shutdown, and disengaged or excited, jumpy, and mouthy into these spectacular, well-behaved, adoptable dogs. Sure, I love it when my dog is making me proud but I also love to watch other handlers working with their dogs and the strides they make each week. I’ll never forget my first day of BAD RAP. I was simply observing, so no dog at my side, and I see another volunteer struggling in with Bernard who was making an absolute scene on his first day. Of course Wes came running up to tell the handler that his dog was not fit to be in class yet. Months later that very dog was brilliant in class, thanks to limitless patience and dedication.

I have one more favorite and that is watching new volunteers show up on a regular basis and fall in love with the shelter just as I have. It’s fabulous getting to move dedicated volunteers up a dot color as they gain experience and to be a part of their journey at the shelter! One last thing… I remain in awe as I continue to watch a group of passionate volunteers rally behind and give their hearts to finding each animal a forever home.

Who are your favorite dogs, past and present?

I initially want to say all of them. But there are definitely names close to my heart: Brody, Elizabeth, Lady Belle, Optimus, Flora, Nyla, Auggie, Cookie, Brenda and Boris, Charlie, Cream Cheese, Brad, Silver, Annabelle, Pipper, Kauz, Shawna, Cosmo, Olive, and Norris (I hope I’m not forgetting any!!)
My two girls at the moment are Cali and Trixey… who take up most of my time. Other current favorites are Greta, Chloe and Zuma.

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