Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter: Thank You

I was originally going to try this as a video post and wish I could have; but I couldn’t make it through the tears so words on a screen will have to do. It’s weak as hell but apparently, right now, so am I.

I just want to make a quick post about what happened after last week’s series of articles on Volunteering at The Austin Humane Shelter.  I had been last Friday and simply been told that ‘the response to your articles has been amazing’ but I knew no more than that. I knew that a tremendous number of donations had come in for the Loretta fund and had asked for an overall total so I could thank people later this week.

I had no idea.

What I found amusing about the whole situation is that people at the shelter kept thanking me for what I’d done.  I talked to various staff members, none of whom I’d ever even met before, and they kept trying to thank me.

I hope that they understood that it was I who needed to thank them.  Well, the dogs really but they can’t understand the words.  I’m doing what little I can do to payback the dogs for what they gave me.  I just happen to be in a situation where I have a pretty big voice because of whatever e-status I have.  But I’m getting off track.

In Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter: Part 5, I told readers about Loretta, and asked them to help my dogs out.  The shelter needed $3000 for her medical treatment.  I also asked folks to help out their local shelters as well and I know some did.  There are plenty of stories in that article and I’d entreat anyone reading this now to read them.

In any case, I went in for a volunteer event (that was actually on Monday, but I got to do do another one) yesterday and to walk some dogs. There aren’t many, there were a tremendous number of adoptions over the weekend, the kennels are fairly empty.  It means I have less to do but how can this be a bad thing?  Less dogs in the shelter means more dogs in Forever Homes.

In any event, I talked to the development and marketing manager and kicked around ideas; we’re going to look for more ways to help the dogs and raise awareness.  I’ll be setting up a permanent page here on the website, they are going to link to it and we had a bunch of ideas that need to be developed before I tell you about them.  The bottom line is that I’d rather use whatever status I have on this silly thing called the Internet for good than evil and this is good.  I think it’s better than pushing crappy Clickbank e-books for my own bank balance.

In any case, I know that donations came in from all over the world.  The shelter was amazed as was I: Australia, Sweden, Norway, Russia, people donated or tried to donate from all over the world.  In the cases where folks couldn’t get the online donation page to work (because it’s not set up for international donations), many contacted me one way or another to see how they could donate.  They went to the effort to not only ask me how to donate but to send the donation via Paypal so I could donate it for them.  In a world where the marketing gurus tell me that anything more than one click will lose me a sale, this says a lot.  People went to a lot of effort to help out my dogs.

And yesterday I learned the results.   Total donations for the Loretta fund have already topped $14,000.  I knew that the $3,000 had been covered as of last Friday but I had no idea that it would reach this level.  I know that the amounts of the donations ranged massively but I don’t even want to talk about amounts.  It was never about how much people had to donate.  Many said that they didn’t have much but they still gave what they could.  Because they wanted to help my dogs.  It’s enough; it’s more than enough.

And, as a person who has frankly been a little bit disappointed with humans over my lifetime, who tends to look for the bad and be happy when something good happens rather than hoping for the good and being disappointed, this simply overwhelms me.   Not only will Loretta, one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met, get the medical treatment she needs, but many other dogs in my shelter, now or in the future will also get treatment.

And what I want to say is this, what I couldn’t say in video because you wouldn’t have understood me through the tears is this:

Thank you.

Thank all of you who either took the time to donate, or took the time to email me about how my series impacted on you or who put a comment on the article, or spread the word via Facebook, or whatever.   To everyone who helped out in whatever way they could simply because I asked, I thank you.  I had no idea what to expect after my article on Friday but I certainly didn’t expect this level of response.  And I thank everyone.

But I know that this is not over.  I know that many will still want to get involved and I still entreat people to donate or help in some way.  However, I want to make a different plea now.  Loretta and my dogs have been more than helped.   I have no idea how the money raised will be used but I know it will be used to help dogs; and that’s enough.

But my dogs aren’t the only ones.  I know that others have donated to their local shelters, elsewehere in the US, in the UK, in Australia.  Because there are needy dogs everywhere.  Mine are special to me but the ones in your city need help too.  They still need you.  They need daily care and  a loving home and things that your local shelter may not be able to provide because it’s overworked and underfunded.

So this is what I’m asking of you now: if you want to make a donation, for whatever reason of your own, after reading my article series last week, please please please please make it to your local shelter.  Find it online and go donate there.  My dogs are more than covered now.  But they aren’t the only ones.  Make no mistake, I still want to hear about it.  Please tell me about the dog that grabbed your heart and made you donate to your local shelter.  But please help your dogs now.

So please help, but help your local dogs.  They need you too.  And remember that donating money still isn’t all you can do.  I still can’t tell you how much the dogs need beyond that.   I only got to walk one dog yesterday, Lilbit, she’s the only blue dog in the shelter right now (tho I did play with Alfie in the auditorium and give Pierre some much needed loving in the lounge because he’s really unhappy in the kennel), but I still love it and get more out of it than I can describe.

You just have to believe me that you can’t understand it until you experience it.  No matter what else I do at the shelter to help promote what it does and help the dogs, I will always walk them.  It’s where I started, it’s what saved me this past summer, and I’ll continue to do it as long as I physically can.

But if you still can’t or don’t have time or aren’t close enough to your shelter to go there in person, please donate.  Just do it at your own shelter going forwards.  My dogs are fine and for that, I thank everyone.  But there are more dogs, all too many, who people in your town or your city are trying to help.  And they are just as overworked and underfunded.  So now, help the dogs in your area.  Please.

Oh yeah, since a lot of people asked. As Loretta gets her medical treatment and/or adopted, I will make sure and update readers about her progress. She’s still a beautiful loving dog (I sat with her briefly yesterday) but now she’s going to get the help that she needs.  Because of you.  Because of everything you did.

Thank you.

Update: I was hesitant to add this but I think it’s important.  One thing about this whole thing does sadden me a bit.  In Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter: Part 1 I talked about the vet clinic and how many dogs needed extra medical help.  And I mentioned a dog that needed thousands of dollars of dental work that the shelter couldn’t afford.

Very astute readers may have noticed that I didn’t mention that dog’s name.  Can you guess why?  The dog was Babe, my Babe. She had worn down her teeth somehow and one thing that they feared would slow her adoption was that her new family would have to pay for the dental work that the shelter couldn’t afford.

It’s one reason that I know Babe is in a good place; she was adopted before the shelter could raise the money for her teeth and that means that her new family saw her beauty and was willing to pay for it.  And while I’m happy that I helped Loretta and no telling how many other dogs thanks to my readers,  I am a bit saddened that what I’m able to do now to help the dogs couldn’t help the dog that I loved and that saved me in my time of need.