Meet Lori, a shelter volunteer and doggy playgroup leader who has also fostered hundreds of dogs over the years. She’s had some extraordinary and inspiring experiences, and we are grateful for all her hard work at our county shelter!
How long have you been volunteering at the county shelter?
Since November, 2013
How did you get started?
I got started in rescue work in 1998 shortly after I adopted my first dog from an animal shelter in the Bay Area. I have done a lot of rescue work since then wherever I have lived.
What do you do for the county shelter?
I am a foster mom, and I also work with the shelter playgroups.
What is one of your favorite things about working with the dogs?
My favorite thing is feeling like I’ve made a positive difference for a dog that needed someone. Fostering especially is very fulfilling to me. I recently fostered a dog that was so kennel-stressed in the shelter that she was barking like crazy and climbing the walls. This is not attractive to potential adopters! She lived with my family for 4 months, learned how to be an excellent house dog, her character blossomed, and she was adopted very recently to a wonderful home. In the shelter she was anxious, stressed, off the charts energetic, and maybe a little crazy! After some time in our home she became sweet, silly, happy, and very willing to please. I made a positive difference in her life, and that’s my favorite thing about volunteering.
What would you say to someone considering volunteering for our shelter?
Do it! The volunteers at the shelter are really supportive of each other. There are so many things you can do to help the animals; anybody can find something! Young or old, short or tall, strong or weak–you can help if you want to. And you will get way more out of it than you put into it.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Playgroups are my new passion! Several times a week we get the dogs outside in our play yards, and they’re able to play with the other dogs in small groups. We put a lot of time and effort into making sure that we make the right matches so that all the dogs have fun and make progress. It’s a great way for them to get rid of some of their stress and just be dogs for a while!
How many dogs have you fostered? Hundreds over the years!
What do you love about fostering?
Every foster dog is different. Each has their own personality, their own cute mannerisms, their own training challenges. I like appreciating each dog as an individual and making each dog’s life better. And ultimately I love seeing that dog get adopted to their forever home and then getting lots of updates on how they are doing. Fostering saves 2 lives – the dog you foster and the dog that takes his place in the shelter.
Describe your home/pet situation and how that helps or hinders fostering.
I have 2 dogs of my own, one male and one female. They are older and are experienced foster siblings. They are my best allies in fostering! Often they will show new dogs the ropes – where to potty, how to get around the house and yard, how to behave like civilized young canines. My last foster was convinced she could not jump into my car and refused to try. Then she saw my dog Ice do it several times. After a couple of days, then the lightbulb went on and she bounded into the car from then on.
Describe a challenge you faced with a foster dog and how you overcame it.
Each foster dog brings their own challenges. Some are certainly more challenging than others! I like coming up with creative solutions to each dog’s challenges.
Describe what it was like to give up a dog after fostering him or her.
The great thing is that I have a lot of input into the dog’s adoptive home. I can interview the people, I can do a home visit, and by the time the dog gets adopted I already have put in a lot of time making sure that this is the right home. But even after all that, I still worry and am a little sad when they go. It’s a transition for the dog, and I hate that they have to go through yet another transition in their lives. But it’s all worth it when they have their permanent home. Then I can look forward to helping the next dog that needs my help.
Thank you, Lori! Your hard work makes such a difference in the lives of countless dogs.