Oct 6 2017

Pet Memorial Services: Department Highlight

We like to highlight departments in our shelter, as there are so many people that are working “behind the scenes” to make Wayside Waifs what it is today. Previously, we showcased our Feline Care Department, and this month, we would like to showcase our Pet Memorial Services and Facilities crew. They do such a wonderful job in maintaining our grounds, cemetery, and helping people in the process of grieving.

Our Pet Memorial Services area currently has one member-Tiffanie. She has recently become the only employee back there, and is doing a wonderful job! Thankfully, our Facilities department also helps her out. Those guys are Livio, Harold, and James. Together, they all make our shelter look amazing, and represent compassion at its finest.

The building pictured above is Pet Memorial Services, and it is located in the back of our campus. Inside, there is a viewing room, and several private rooms for owner appointments. Here at Wayside, we strive to make you as comfortable as you can during your time of troubles. We also have our urns and boxes out, so people can choose only the best for their pets.

 

There are, of course, certain sections of the Pet Memorial Services building that we do not want to show pictures of, only because of how private it can be. There are rooms where owner euthanasias happen, and in the back is where they get the cremations ready, of the owners choose that route. However, this facility is clean, and very organized. Tiffanie goes out of her way to maintain records and schedule appointments on her own, until she gets the help of another staff member. Tiffanie is pictured below.

Our Facilities department does a number of things for the shelter in general, but for Pet Memorial Services specifically, they keep the plots organized, get them ready for burials and ceremonies, and keep the grounds mowed and treated. They are also very helpful whenever Tiffanie needs any extra help with any number of things, so they are all well-rounded guys!

While our grounds are very big, this is one of many beautiful sections of our cemetery. There are some interesting facts about our cemetery as well!

  • We have one monkey buried here named April, back in 1972.
  • We also have two Bearded Dragons, and a couple of “Fire Dogs” that are memorialized by fire hydrants. 
  • As early as 1946, over 12,000 animals have been placed here, whether they are owned animals, or communal. 
  • Fenby Webster was the lead contributor who helped to found Wayside Waifs. She helped found the cemetery in 1946.
  • We named different parts of our cemetery. Top of the World is our oldest part of the cemetery, having dates as far back as 1946. Cedar Shadows is where most of our cremations are. Peaceful Meadows(see arch above) is where our body burials are. We also have a section called Companion Fields, which is for our communal burials and cremations. 
  • We have a wonderful gazebo in the center of Peaceful Meadows, that is a great for a nice resting place for dog walkers, or if you are just gazing upon our beautiful grounds!

My own personal favorite is the gazebo, as it is a nice place to come and sit, and look at our beautiful campus. We have a business behind us, and Tiffanie says they often will walk around our cemetery during their lunch breaks, just to go on a nice walk. If you are curious about how you can help our Pet Memorial Services crew, consider making a donation in their name. The more money they have, the more upkeep and renovations they can do, and Tiffanie really wants to clean up or cemetery, and make it even better! I will end with some pictures of our cemetery, and current graves that are being kept in wonderful condition, and with regular visitors!

 

 

 

Please stop by our cemetery and take a look around!

Written by Teryn J.

 


Sep 22 2017

Strutt With Your Mutt 2017

This past Sunday we had our 27th Annual Strutt With Your Mutt. All funds raised stay right here in Kansas City to benefit the animals in our care. From life-saving medical care, behavior training, safe shelter, nutritious food and love, Wayside has been committed to helping abandoned, abused and homeless pets get a second chance at life. You make that possible.

There is a 5K race and a 3K walk/run, where you and your furry friend can participate. We also have virtual sponsors of the event in case they do not want to participate in the races/cannot make it this year. There are vendors and some of our staff set up tents and there is even a pet costume contest! It was truly a great time, and it was for a wonderful cause too!

 

 

 

We have an entire album on Facebook here, we’re just showcasing a few! Please check it out!

We raised approximately $132,000 for our Waifs, and we could not be here without the support of our community, sponsors, and vendors. Thank you! This year, the event was presented by the Melcher Investment Company and Rob Sight Ford. Our sponsors included Bayer, AmeristarCares, Blue Pearl, 106.5 The Wolf, Ice Masters, Hill’s Science Diet, Ceva, Lee, Wayside Waifs Board Members, Companion Protect, KMBC 9 News, The Kansas City Star, and many more, found here. We also had several vendors participate, including Bently’s Pet Stuff, Pet Supplies Plus, Pete and Mac’s Pet Resort, Raising Cane’s, Pickleman’s, and many more here. We would not be here without their support!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again, thank you all for either participating, supporting, sponsoring, or being a vendor. We would not be where we are today without the support of the Kansas City community. We will see you all next year!

Come visit us during adoption hours!

  • Monday: CLOSED
  • Tuesday: CLOSED
  • Wednesday: 12pm-8pm
  • Thursday: 12pm-8pm
  • Friday: 12pm-8pm
  • Saturday: 10am-6pm
  • Sunday: 1pm-6pm

Written by Teryn J.

 


Sep 15 2017

An Interview With Candy Brown

In many aspects of shelter operation, we would not be where we are without our volunteers. Our staff members are very thankful for the active roles our volunteers take in caring for the animals in the shelter. We thought it would be nice to showcase one in particular and what she does here that better improves the mission we all have; save as many lives as we can! Let us introduce you to Candy Brown!

This is Candy, with her waif Bert! Bert has been at our shelter collectively a little over a year, so she spends as much time as she can with him! Candy herself has been with us seven, and almost eight years now! She started as a dog socializer, working her way up to working with our behavior dogs. She works primarily with our Peace Academy, which is high-energy dogs, but she also has worked with our Confidence College dogs as well. After that, she worked her way to meet and greets, dog to dogs, and eventually landed where she is today; an adoptions counselor/a member of our rescue team.

Candy is here Wednesday-Sunday when we are open for adoptions, and on Mondays and Tuesdays she works with our behavior dogs. She is here seven days a week, way beyond full-time! We appreciate Candy so much! She is a tad camera shy unless she is with a dog, (as pictured above) but she allowed me to shadow her for some pictures of what she does!

 

 

As pictured above, she goes through the adoption process with people and helps with animals visiting the vet clinic for the last time before they go home! Candy explained to me that she appreciates all the friendships she has made, both with the people she works with and volunteers that socialize dogs. She was working in the ER before she came to Wayside, and she quit her job so she could come here full-time. Talk about dedication! She also brought up that age doesn’t matter at Wayside. “You could be twenty, forty, or sixty, and the level or respect stays the same.”

Candy also brought up a very touching story about the dog Chetana. “This animal is from the ASPCA tri-state dog fighting bust and will need to be screened through the approved adoption process.” That was the note in our system. She was the sole survivor of six fighting dogs. She was worked with over a year here by Candy and a staff member consistently to build her up. While Chetana finally got adopted, she escaped from her new home and was lost for several days. The police notified the owners, who notified Wayside that she was found on the highway, deceased. Candy still gets teary-eyed telling the story, and she memorialized Chetana by getting a tattoo of her and placing a memorial stone at our Pet Memorial Gazebo.

 

After telling me the story, she said “She is the reason why I do what I do, day in and day out.” She also showed me how Chetana is featured on our No More Bullying curriculum.

You can hear the passion in Candy’s voice, and this place is her passion. She is very thankful that she is able to live her dream, and as long as she is physically able, she will continue to do so. Once again, all of us here really appreciate Candy’s dedication to our mission, and we hope she stays with us for a long time! She is very modest, but she is one of the many people that make this organization as great as it can be. Thank you for your service Candy!

You can visit us during our adoption hours!

  • Monday: CLOSED
  • Tuesday: CLOSED
  • Wednesday: 12pm-8pm
  • Thursday: 12pm-8pm
  • Friday: 12pm-8pm
  • Saturday: 10am-6pm
  • Sunday: 1pm-6pm

Written by Teryn J.


Sep 8 2017

Lottie: Happy Tails

Being employed with Wayside Waifs is a very rewarding experience, and volunteers have the same feeling. Sometimes you get those special cases with cats or dogs and you cannot help but root for them. Lottie is one of those cases. Pictured above is the day Lottie came in, with a staff member holding her for a picture and then receiving her shots.

Lottie’s intake name was Sassy, I’m assuming because she was very vocal! She was given updated flea, tick, and worm treatments along with appropriate vaccines. They were roughly two or three weeks old at this time. She had five other siblings who were rescued from a hoarding situation. Our vets examined them on intake and noticed they had ulcers on their tongues, meaning they were suspect for Calicivirus.

Calicivirus is a common respiratory disease in cats. If a cats unvaccinated, or living in poorly kept conditions, they are more susceptible to the disease. Lottie’s litter was unvaccinated and leaving in a hoarding situation, so it is no surprise they developed the disease. The infection can occur in a cat at any age, but the most common age for cats is a kitten six weeks or younger. There are vaccines for the prevention of calicivirus, but it hasn’t been proven to protect it from all cats. The symptoms are flu-like, so once you catch those you would take the animal to a vet and get a proper diagnosis, and get antibiotics to treat it.

Lottie and her siblings were placed in our foster care program with veteran foster mom Annie Hughes. Annie has housed several fosters, and her specialty is litters upon litters of kittens. Annie recalls that Lottie’s siblings “were one of the cutest litters I’ve ever fostered. Three calico girls, and three spotted ones. And they were all sweet and cute!”

Here’s one of Lottie on her own!(Or two)

 

After approximately a week of antibiotics, their tongue ulcers were healed and their upper respiratory symptoms were gone. They were placed on one more week’s worth of medicine just to be safe. After they were fully healed, it was time to wait to be of age and weight to be altered and put up for adoption!

As mentioned above, I had worked at Wayside during this time and fell in love with Lottie’s pictures. I spoke to Annie directly and she was very excited that I found a kitten I liked. Normally I was able to withstand the power of cuddly kittens, but she wore me down. She offered to set up a time to come meet the litter and see if she was truly the right fit. After the meeting, it was over. I definitely wanted to adopt her, and I did!

While most of the time she does her own thing, she does like to cuddle every now and then. Our vet is terrified of her and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She has two older sisters-a dog Cleo and a cat Sahara. She enjoys playing with Cleo, but Sahara doesn’t necessarily enjoy Lottie. That’s still a work in progress! I can’t imagine life without her, and I know that if it wasn’t for Wayside, Lottie and her siblings would still be in that hoarding situation getting sicker and sicker. I’m happy to report she has a clean bill of health and is enjoying her eventful life so far at a year+ old. Thank you Wayside!

You can find your own buddy at Wayside Waifs during our adoption hours!

  • Monday: CLOSED
  • Tuesday: CLOSED
  • Wednesday: 12pm-8pm
  • Thursday: 12pm-8pm
  • Friday: 12pm-8pm
  • Saturday: 10am-6pm
  • Sunday: 1pm-6pm

Written by Teryn


Aug 25 2017

Top Dog Classic With Drew Butera

This past Sunday was our Top Dog Classic with Drew Butera, one of the best back-up/starting catchers in Major League Baseball. Drew has always had a passion for animals, so he wanted to partner with Top Golf and Wayside Waifs to create a fun charity opportunity. What stood out was people would purchase a ticket and be assigned a local celebrity, and it could’ve been a present or past player. The night was filled with fun, good conversation, and it all went towards a good cause.

Butera has always loved animals, and has helped Wayside Waifs early on during his time here in Kansas City. He visited our facility, and has said great things about the work we do with our animals. During the Royals FanFest, Butera visited our booth daily to visit some of the dogs and puppies present, and to raise awareness for homeless animals. He also enjoys the sport of golf, so he decided to combine the two with a charity event he always wanted.

Here is our promo video we did.

Confirmed Celebrities included: Drew Butera, Danny Duffy, Travis Wood, Ian Kennedy, Nate Karns, Peter Moylan, Jason Hammel, Chris Young, Matt Strahm, Alex Gordon, Rusty Kuntz, Don Wakamatsu, Pedro Grifol, Dale Sveum, Mirke Jirschele, Doug Henry, Whit Merrifield and Seth Maness. What is really nice is that it seems the whole team wanted to support Drew and Wayside Waifs. It speaks volumes on how great the Kansas City Royals are, whether it be on the field or off.

Sunday night was our big night! The event was from seven p.m. to ten p.m. and it was a blast! Our guests had the opportunity to play golf with a local celebrities, and they had a chance to socialize with them and take photos. We also had raffles for prizes, including a cooking experience at Williams Sonoma, a Tivol diamond necklace, a signed Clayton Kershaw jersey and Mike Trout’s autographed cleats. Wow! We also had puppies on site during the event and they received plenty of love and attention!

Puppies pictured are Badger(Terrier Mix), and Trolley(Retriever Mix)

Drew Butera, Peter Moylan, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Alex Gordon were among several players who couldn’t resist  posing with a puppy!

 

 

 

All of the puppies at the event are available for adoption now, but several people at the event called our facility in hopes of being the first ones ready to adopt! We appreciated the support and kindness from everyone at TopGolf, the Kansas City Royals, and the Murphy-Hoffman Company. The players were very gracious and took pictures and signed things for people throughout the night, never batting an eye or losing their smile. Everyone from Kansas City should be proud to know how gracious our team is! Most importantly, we raised awareness for our organization and our animals, which is what Drew wanted as well. Here are some extra cute pictures just for your viewing pleasure!

Here our team is setting up the bays and getting ready hours before the event!

Whit Merrifield can’t resist the cuteness of Badger!

Our foster coordinator Morgan cuddling with Sammy, a favorite at the event!

Jason Vargas stopped by to pose with Badger!

Nate Karns enjoys some cuddles from Badger.

And for you loyal blog readers, I’m posting my selfie I took with Moose and Egg, just so you can see pictures of Egg cuddling up!

Overall, it was a lovely event with lovely people, and Wayside Waifs and Drew raised money for homeless animals, and that is the most important thing to take away from this!

 

You can visit us during our adoption hours!

  • Monday: CLOSED
  • Tuesday: CLOSED
  • Wednesday: 12pm-8pm
  • Thursday: 12pm-8pm
  • Friday: 12pm-8pm
  • Saturday: 10am-6pm
  • Sunday: 1pm-6pm

Written by Teryn

 


Aug 14 2017

10 Reasons to Strutt With Your Mutt!

 Event Home Register | Donate                                                                                                    Share on Facebook! Share on Instagram Tweet about the Strutt    

 

10 Reasons to Strutt! 
KC’s largest dog-friendly 3K/5K event
 
1. Form a team! Invite friends and family to join you on September 17. Start a new tradition!
2. Enter your dog into the Pet Costume Contest! Only $5 to enter. We will award 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place on stage!
3. Your registration fee ($35-$45) pays for an animal’s vaccinations.
4. You will get an updated 2017 Strutt event t-shirt! The shirt is blue and super soft.
5. All youth fundraising will be matched by a generous Wayside donor. Get creative in collecting for the waifs! Host a lemonade stand or ask a company to sponsor you.
6. Are you a runner? 5K participants will get a cool finisher’s medal!
7. Poppy’s Ice Cream truck will be giving free pup-cones at Strutt! Yum!
8. Be a Top Team! We’ve got awards for the Largest Team and Top Fundraising Team on Strutt day! Will you be a winner?
Top Team Award.jpg Largest Team Award.jpg
9. Over 50 pet-related vendors in our Flealess Event Market – you’ll get tons of freebies and information on what our pet community has to offer! Be a vendor.
10. Earn fun prizes for your fundraising efforts! Check out our Prize Program here.
 
About Strutt
Strutt With Your Mutt is Sunday, September 17, 2017 in the Brookside neighborhood. We need your help to raise funds for the homeless pets at Wayside Waifs!
There are many ways you can help. Register your team today, fundraise and be a voice for the Waifs, and ask your friends and family to support you!
Stay Social!
Be sure to stay up-to-date with all things Strutt With Your Mutt! Head over to our Facebook page and be sure to “like” us!
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Upcoming Wayside Events
 August 20
Prize Sponsors: 
Ameristar Cares
Bayer
Best in Show Sponsors:
Ceva_logo_14 Hill's Science Diet  Lee Logo Gold on Black.jpg

Jul 21 2017

Volunteer Appreciation

In many aspects of shelter operation, we would not be where we are without our volunteers. Our staff members are very thankful for the active roles our volunteers take in caring for the animals in the shelter. I thought it would be nice to showcase some of the many volunteers and what they do here that better improves the mission we all have; save as many lives as we can!

This is Dorothy Miller, and she volunteers in the Cat area. She does socializing, which is visiting with the cats, but she also does Cat to Cat featured in the picture above. Cat to Cat is where we introduce a cat to another cat to better understand if they could be in a home and co-exist together. In this picture, Jon and Bertram seem to be doing well, and they did get that coveted “Yes.” For us, we don’t need cats to love each other, but tolerating one another or just sitting in the same room can make a difference, and it increases their chances of being adopted.

These guys didn’t really interact that much, but they had a relaxed body language, and no hissing or growling. They did great, and here is a little snippet to showcase the process.

Dorothy works directly with other C2C volunteers and our Feline Care Manager to write down their interactions and experiences they have with their test kitties. She also is an avid waif watcher. Waif watching is for our Waifs that have been here more than thirty days, and need that extra exposure to showcase how wonderful they are. Currently, Dorothy’s waif is Ringo, a spunky former Beatles member who is looking for a home! 

The Waif Watchers can decorate their kennel however they like, as long as it doesn’t block the actual animal. Ringo is assisting Dorothy in product placement, as he likes his things neat and tidy. But he loves his snuggles too! We are appreciative of you Dorothy, keep being fabulous! 

Next, we have Sam Grimes. She is also a very dedicated volunteer who works with our dogs. She does a little bit of everything, between walking dogs, working with our shy and fearful dogs, bathing, and fostering. She is the Confidence College Volunteer Lead, and if you have a question about one of our shy dogs, she will most likely know the answer. Recently, she told me about Bob, a CC dog who is currently in foster now. Him and his siblings were transferred here, and had little leash skills. He was more shy than the others, so he was placed on Sam’s team. Here she is trying to get him to go on a walk. 

He is a very sweet boy, he is just a bit unsure of the shelter environment. She told me he hasn’t been outside for a walk yet, just inside. She tries with him everyday and it just so happened that the day I shadowed her was his big day! I captured his first moments outside on a leash, and he was a brave boy. You can watch it here.

We even met another CC dog Beau on our walk, and it really helped Bob’s confidence. It was awesome to see how happy he was!

Sam and her team log in a binder about their interactions with the CC dogs so they all can be on the same page. It’s a really good program that helps many Waifs find their forever home! Sam also enjoys bathing the dogs that really need it, or grooming them. She was assisted by Dianne Siegal, another fellow dog volunteer. 

Here they are giving Roxy a bath, who decided to pose a little bit for the camera. It helps to have two people at least because sometimes the dogs are less than cooperative. But they feel good and smell good after, so they get over it pretty quick! They also get a complimentary bandana for being a good sport, and here is Oreo picking his out!

A big shoutout to Sam and Dianne, you guys are so wonderful and we appreciate you!

Last, but certainly not least, is Debbie Brock, who is another dog volunteer. She is trained to do meet and greets, Dog to Dogs, she walks dogs, and she also teaches classes to new volunteers. We offer classes so people can become even more involved in our shelter, and Debbie is a great example of a wonderful teacher. She teaches the Volunteer Orientation class and the Dog 101 class, giving new volunteers an insight to Wayside and the dog area. Here she is teaching a class!

Debbie also helps out with our Canine Care Technicians if we are short or if we have a lot of dogs to care for. I’ve seen her teach a few classes, and she knows her stuff, and she is very pleasant! She loves answering any questions you have, and she continues to help new volunteers on their first or second shift as well. We have a stuffed animal that new volunteers can practice harnessing a dog on, and it’s very helpful! 

It is nice to practice on a “calm dog” first, because some of our high energy dogs will give you a run for your money trying to put that harness on! But it makes for a really good walk as they can’t pull and the harness works against their chest which helps for a smoother trip. Thank you for the pictures Debbie, and thanks for all that you do!

These are just four of the thousand+ volunteers we have for Wayside Waifs. We are incredibly grateful of the work and care they provide for our organization. Thank you for your kindness and the waifs appreciate it as well. If you would like to volunteer with us, please visit our website here.

Please visit our waifs during our adoption hours!

Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday: Noon-8pm
Thursday: Noon-8pm
Friday: Noon-8pm
Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 1pm-6pm

Written by Teryn

 


Jun 8 2015

Calling All Cat Lovers!

Felinecarevol_hero

Who would not love to start their day with kittens, upon kittens, upon kittens? We are looking for a special group of volunteers to help us with this crucial shelter role. Keeping the shelter clean and our animals healthy is a big responsibility. Support is needed each day of the week from 8- 11am. We know it is early in the morning, but you will have other smiling and happy faces to work with while you are here. Do you know anyone else who loves cats? Volunteering with cats and friends is doubly rewarding.

Here are the details about what you would be doing. Keep in mind this is a short term commitment and your care will help these felines in their journey to finding a forever home!

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Volunteers will be asked to commit to a once a weekly schedule. All days of the week are available, even weekends. Shifts are 8am – 11am. Anyone interested in volunteering, but not interested in this specific opportunity, should sign up for our general program at waysidewaifs.org

To get started helping our kitties, sign up for one of these classes be emailing AnnMarie Thomas, athomas@waysidewaifs.org. Please note in your email which shift you are interested in filling or if you are interested in volunteering for more than one day.

*These classes are ONLY for the Feline Comfort Support volunteer position.

June 13th 8am – 11am

OR

June 15th 8am – 11am

Feline Comfort Support Volunteers support the Feline Care Techs (FCT) with a variety of tasks. These include cleaning and sanitizing kennels, picking up and distributing blankets/toys, and providing food and water. Volunteers will be provided with general volunteer training and one on one mentoring to ensure success in this position!

Purpose:

  • This is a partnership of volunteers and staff working to provide the best quality of life for the cats at Wayside.
  • Support feline socialization and the importance of touch.
  • Decrease shelter stress and the spread of disease.
  • Apply consistent deep cleaning techniques for kennels once they are vacated.
  • Provide cats with basic necessities, clean surroundings, and toys for mental stimulation.
  • Overall – Increase the adoptability, health, and welfare of cats at Wayside Waifs.

Have questions? Contact AnnMarie Thomas, athomas@waysidewaifs.org.

Abner

 


May 21 2014

Meet Raider

A Foster Story From Julie Poland

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In a home environment, he has been extremely well behaved.  He follows me around the house and gets up immediately, even if sleeping, just to see where I am going.  He’s been very sweet and gentle with my two kids and husband.

He never liked going back to his kennel at the shelter, and he initially did not like to go into his crate at home either. However, within a few days, he was running up the stairs with my other dogs at bedtime and happily going into his crate to wait for his treats. He sleeps all night in his crate and even lets us sleep in late on the weekends!

He was great with other dogs at the shelter and was in many playgroups with other canines, too.  His play was so appropriate that he was used as a test dog when new dogs arrived at Wayside Waifs to see if they were friendly with other dogs. He’s also been fantastic at my home with my two small dogs.  They are not playful and Raider will occasionally try to engage them in play, but he respectfully stops when they don’t respond to him.

We even had a litter of four foster puppies when we first brought Raider home, and he was so gentle when the puppies tried to play with him.

Raider is crate-trained and house-trained and is great about going outside to go potty.  He walks very well on a leash and only pulls when he sees squirrels and other dogs on leashes.  Raider is only two years old, so he does get into mischief like the young dog that he is. He is still learning what is appropriate to chew and what isn’t.  However, with supervision, he’s learning quickly and is great about dropping something he’s found in exchange for a treat.

My family is enjoying spending time with Raider and will be sad to see him go.  We think he would be happiest in a home with a fenced yard and another playful dog. He was adopted recently for about a week, and the family loved him and had wonderful things to say about him. Unfortunately, one of their dogs did not like Raider.  If the family tried to give attention to Raider the other dog would attack him.  They felt it would be best for Raider to go to a home with another dog who would accept him.  We hope his forever family finds him soon, so he can live the wonderful life he so deserves!


May 19 2014

Footprints on My Heart

adoptionAn Adoption Story: By Megan Pickard

I have always been an animal lover.  I believe animals teach us unconditional love, more so than any other life lesson. When the time came for me to find a volunteer position, there was no question it would be in the animal field. My family and I had adopted our dog from Wayside Waifs seven years ago, so my mother and I applied to become dog walkers. We took dogs from their kennels outside during the day, so they had a chance to run and socialize with humans beyond a glass door. But I wanted to do more to help animals in my community. So I applied to become a foster mom.

Foster moms bring animals out of the shelter when they need some extra TLC. Some animals are very sick, and some come from abusive homes, so they need to re-learn how to love. Others just don’t do well in the noisy environment of a shelter. I instantly fall in love with every animal that comes home with me, treating them like my own furry babies.

It isn’t easy to care for a sick or scared animal; but each day I care for them, I feel my confidence grow and my sense of purpose renew.

One of my favorite memories as a foster mom is taking my first litter of six lab puppies back to the shelter and meeting each family that came to adopt one. There is so much satisfaction knowing that you helped a family find their forever pet. However, not all experiences are pleasant. Last year, one of my foster kittens died in my care. Her body was taken back to Wayside Waifs, where an autopsy discovered an enlarged heart caused by a genetic disorder. I knew nothing I could have done would have prevented this and nothing I did could have caused it, but I still felt very sad. I took comfort knowing that I had given her the best last days any kitten could have had.

From this sadness, happiness was restored again. Since then, I have taken in seven puppies, many more extremely rambunctious kittens, and cats (one crazy pair climbed the Christmas tree and destroyed several ornaments – that’s when I knew they were well enough to go back to find their forever family).  I currently have an excitable 4-month-old puppy that was rescued from a dog-fighting ring.

What has my volunteer work taught me? My future plans include being a nurse, and I believe the special affection animals show us is teaching me how to be a compassionate nurse. I have taken in several dogs, rescued from abusive situations, which now bathe my face with kisses whenever I return home. The previously mentioned rambunctious cats came to my house extremely malnourished and ill and left with restored health. More than anything, these animals have taught me to love unconditionally, no matter what your past is, reminding me that each day is a gift that should be enjoyed to the fullest –especially if that day brings you Christmas trees to climb and ornaments to destroy!


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