Newer visitors to the site may be a bit confused as to why a site dedicated to training, nutrition, fat loss and performance has a page about the Austin Humane Shelter and volunteering/donating on it.  While I could spend a lot of verbiage explaining it here, that’s not efficient.   I already wrote those articles.

Rather, I’m going to point you to a series of articles that describes what I went through this summer and how my experiences at the shelter helped to pull me out of it.  First and foremost, I’d suggest you read about how I got to where I got in terms of being depressed and overtrained.  That’s a 2-part series of articles:

Overtraining and Overreaching: Results Part 1
Overtraining and Overreaching: Results Part 2

If you don’t want to read the tedious account of how my training and life collapse occurred, you can skip that outright and go straight to the meat of the issue and how my summer volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter impacted my life.  Below are links to a 5-part series of articles I wrote in November describing my experiences at the shelter and the good it did for me.  Be warned, it’s not the easiest series to read in some spots and I will make you cry if you get to the last part.

Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter Part 1
Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter Part 2
Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter Part 3
Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter Part 4
Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter Part 5

About a week later, I did a followup of thanks for the donations that came in for the Loretta fund.

Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter: Thank You


As I was writing the 5th part of my series on my time at the Austin Humane Shelter, I wrote about a dog that came in named Loretta.  She had severe demodex mange and cherry eyes.  Long story short, I asked readers to send in donations and they came in to an enormous degree.  I did a series of updates on her surgery, fostering, being put up for adoption and finally being adopted.

Loretta Updates

Continuing with My Volunteering

Originally posted in May of 2012, this continues with my situation at the shelter, mainly focusing on 2012 and all the craziness that ensued.

Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter: Part 6
Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter: Part 7
Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter: Part 8
Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter: Part 9
Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter: Part 10

Why is This Here?

Given the focus of my site, some may be wondering why this page exists.  Primarily, I’m putting this page up because it’s important to me, I still volunteer regularly to walk the dogs or do volunteer events (along with helping the shelter get the word out with things like this).  I still think it’s a good thing to do.  A

s well, the articles on the main site will be lost into the void once they are off the main page and I wanted to put them in a permanent place.  Finally I still want to entreat people to consider volunteering at their local dog shelter (or some other opportunity, read the series).  If you can’t do it for some reason, consider donating.

If you’re local to Austin, feel free to donate something (money, blankets, whatever) to the Austin Humane Society.  If you want to donate cash (every little bit helps) you can do it on the Austin Humane Shelter Donation Page.  If you can’t do cash, bring in old blankets, the dogs love having something soft to sleep on in the kennels.   Every little bit helps and even if you feel as you don’t have much to donate, the dogs will still appreciate it.  I will too.  And trust me when I say it will make you feel better about yourself.  Do it for that reason alone.

But if you’re not local, I’d ask that you donate to your local shelter.  My dogs need help but the ones where you are do too.  And everyone already came out of the woodwork to help my dogs; which I appreciate more than anybody can imagine.  But now it’s time to help the ones in your area.   And, again, it doesn’t matter how much or how little you have to give.  A mere $5 means another dog gets to eat that day, or sleep somewhere warm.  It’s not about the amount, it’s about the gesture.  You spend more than that on stuff that gives you nothing back; this will give you more back than you can imagine.

I thank you and so do the dogs.

My Two Dogs

One “danger” if volunteering at an animal shelter is that you always want to take all the animals home.  In my case, I did end up adopting two of them, about a year apart.

My Dog Alfie

About 2 weeks after all of the above happened, I ended up adopting my own dog.  The story of how I came to adopt him along with his first weeks in my apartment, along with further updates will appear below.

ALFIE! Part 1
ALFIE! Part 2
ALFIE! Part 3
ALFIE! Part 4

My Dog Norman

So it’s been a year now since I’ve been at the Austin Humane Shelter and I recently added a second dog to the mix.  This is the story of NORMAN! and how he came to be part of the family with ALFIE! and I.

NORMAN! Part 1
NORMAN! Part 2
NORMAN! Part 3
NORMAN! Part 4

Why are there No More Updates?

In 2014 I had been volunteering at the Austin Humane Society for about 2.5 years.  And that’s when the bad happened.  I went into a huge manic episode (that would lead to me writing an apology to the Internet) and ended up carrying some of that into my time at the shelter.  The short version of long story is that during one my aggressive outbursts I went off on the mailing list.  And I was asked not to come back.  In hindsight, I do understand.

A year or so later after I had gotten into therapy and been medicated I did approach them about possibly coming back.  I was willing to work under extremely close watch, even starting over at green level but it was a no go.  I briefly attempted to volunteer at a different shelter but it was too far away and too different from what I had grown accustomed to.

Of all of the consequences of my mania this is one of the ones that still hurts the most.  The Austin Humane Society was a huge part of my life for those 2.5 years and did more for my mental health than I can describe.  Losing it forever, through actions that I take full responsibility for, just hurts.

Every once in a while if I drive by the shelter, I’ll go in and visit the dogs.     Nobody there knows me anymore which I would expect.   Invariably after about 10 minutes, I have to leave, fighting back tears the entire time.

If nothing else, that loss acts as a constant reminder of how dangerous my bipolar can be.   I lost a lot because of it.  Some of it I was able to get back after the fact.  But the shelter?  The shelter is lost forever.

All that remains from my time there is this, which hangs on the wall, I assume for what I did to help Loretta.

Lyle McDonald AHS Plaque

And that has to be enough.


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