Congratulations to Sue S., nominated and chosen as the December 2018 Multnomah County Animal Services Volunteer of the Month.
Don’t Wait to Volunteer
When we asked Sue if she had advice for supporters interested in volunteering, she said “don’t wait as long as I did to start. It never hurts to try. See what you like and what works for your schedule, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.” Sue would frequently talk with her daughter about volunteering together at the shelter, but she didn’t start until she was preparing to retire from her career at David Douglas School District. Since then, Sue has surprised herself with the varying roles she’s performed as a volunteer. In addition to morning potty-walks for dogs, Sue is now a mentor and trainer for new volunteers, a foster volunteer for senior dog respite and medical recovery, and even a volunteer for folding laundry and doing dishes. When not volunteering at MCAS, Sue spends time with her grandchildren, Logan and Avery. She volunteers in Logan’s classroom, takes Avery to pre-school, and watches them at home. Sue hopes that Logan and Avery will always remember Grammy Sue’s love for them, and follow the example of her volunteer service, fostering, and adopting to show unconditional love for animals regardless of their age or health.
Sue has always had a love and concern for animals, and wanted to help shelter pets since she was a little girl. She envisioned having a big property to take all the animals home with her. Her parents taught her the importance of spay & neuter as the first thing to do with a new pet.
As an adult, Sue is an advocate for senior pets. Her first senior dog, Bandit, was twelve years old when Sue adopted him into her home. Bandit made such a strong impression on Sue that she decided to adopt only senior dogs in his honor. There’s something about a senior animal’s calm, wise presence in a home that’s comforting and reassuring, even emotionally and materially symbiotic. They need us, and we need them. She is now on her eighth senior pet adoption. Sue understands the heartache of losing a companion animal. Earlier this year, Rosie, Maggie and Fern, all senior members of Sue’s pack, passed away within five weeks of each other. It was excruciating for Sue. While she continued to volunteer at the shelter, she had to step back and away from fostering and adopting for a while. When Sue was asked to foster Coco, a fourteen year old Shih Tzu, she realized that her need to nurture and desire to help animals would help heal her broken heart. While a fear of future loss could deter others from adopting a senior pet again, Sue says “whether they’re young or old, animals deserve a loving home.” Sue adopted Coco. Three months later she adopted Willie, a ten year old Boxer mix, into her loving pack of seniors.
Pitties in Pink
One of the highlights of each year for Sue is walking with the Pitties in Pink float during summer parades. Sometimes new participants don’t know how the float advocating for pit bulls and shelter pets will be accepted, but then the crowds hoot and holler in support as the float goes by. Sue says “it’s a great feeling to know that so many people support shelter pets.” Sue has also met and bonded with some of her closest friends thanks to experiences in the parade and volunteering at the shelter.
After retiring, Sue knew she could volunteer to walk dogs in the morning at 6 am. It’s a special and unique experience according to Sue, because volunteers are the first to see the dogs, and they receive a hero’s welcome every morning from dogs who are happy to see them and thrilled to go for a walk. It’s a great time to get to know each individual dog in order to make informed recommendations to interested adopters. It can also be a tranquil, introspective time for volunteers on the morning shift. Sue sees breathtaking sunrises over Mount Hood, and reflects on her role at the shelter. It’s natural to bond with individual animals, most often with long-term shelter residents like Artu (pictured with Sue, adopted during the first days of the Days of December Adoption Special). During morning walks, Sue can move at her own pace, and has the time to stay until every dog has gone out.
Laundry and Dishes Keep the Wheels of the Shelter Turning
Sue says that she enjoys maintenance work like laundry and dishes. “Laundry is fun. I’ve always been a laundry person.” It keeps her moving, and she loves the fast pace of it. She knows how many blankets, towels, and food and water bowls are needed on any given day, and it’s rewarding to keep these vital supplies stocked on the shelves, orderly stacked or folded, ready to serve the next stray animal that comes through our doors.
A Foster Home
Foster volunteers like Sue create space to save lives by opening their homes for animals in need, and opening up a kennel in the shelter for incoming animals. Sue says fostering animals has been a wonderful experience. She primarily fosters senior pets and animals recovering from medical procedures, but one of the great values of fostering is seeing what each animal is really capable of in home setting. Sue knows that fostering can help provide answers to the important questions interested adopters want to know, which wouldn’t always be evident for stray animals. They relax more and let their normal behaviors shine. We can define more variables if we happen to see their attitudes and behaviors with children, other dogs, cats, or how they react to different scenarios under normal circumstances.
Thank you, Sue, for your dedicated, positive service for the people and pets of Multnomah County!
December 2018 Nominees
Thank you to our stellar volunteers nominated for the December 2018 Volunteer of the Month.
- Jason H.
- Carissa M.
- Alexandria R.