The following post is by Stef Melo
Here’s the thing….. I like animals better than I like most people. They’re loyal, they love unconditionally and they don’t expect much in return. I have two furry children of my own and the reality is that my life pretty much revolves around them, and what they need (much like my friends who have those two legged children running around their houses). If I had the space, could afford it and wouldn’t be disowned by the two who currently own me, I would probably be in danger of being a certified “Crazy Cat (and Dog) Lady.” Thankfully, I know my limits.
That being said, I was searching for a way to be able to help more animals. I had jumped on board with some grass roots groups doing transports and such, but found that I just didn’t mesh with the folks involved. You may have seen it before – some people become really, um, brazen (nicest word I could come up with here!) when they’re able to spout their opinions from behind a keyboard and monitor. Anyway, I knew I had to keep looking. I knew my niche would be out there somewhere.
I got a part time job as a receptionist at my vet’s office. I work with a great group of ladies (and two gentlemen) in the practice and we have fun. And I get to get my “fur fix” whenever I am working. But, it still wasn’t enough. I kept looking. And I started seeing these posts popping up in my Facebook News Feed (because my friends were “liking” them) about this group – “Red Paw something-or-other.” Day after day I would see posts about fire responses, animals needing foster care and families dealing with so much loss already and now having to worry about where their beloved furry family member would be able to stay while they tried to get back on their feet.These posts intrigued me. So, I did some research. And, I liked what I saw. I mean, this group was LEGIT (unlike some of the other groups floating around out there in Facebookland). Straight up, I was IMPRESSED with everything I saw this organization doing. So, I asked to join their ranks as a volunteer. AND THEY LET ME!!!! (Picture me doing the Snoopy Happy Dance!)
I did my first transport for Red Paw in November 2014 – Thanksgiving Week. What could be better than reuniting a family just a few days before THANKSGIVING??? The family was so appreciative of everything Red Paw did to help and they hugged me and thanked me for bringing back their precious family member. I walked out of that reunion with tears in my eyes! BEST. FEELING. EVER!!!
Since that first Red Paw transport, I have reunited more families, done a couple of transports to and from foster homes/boarding facilities and have also started volunteering as a “Dog Mate” (how cool of a title is that??). Not only do I get a cool title, but I get to play with dogs!!! Eventually, I will attend training to become a responder as well.
So, what does being a Red Paw Volunteer mean to me? It means that I’m privileged to be a part of an amazing organization that provides a much needed service to people when they’re at one of the lowest points in their life. It means that, for all the times someone has reached out to me with a helping hand for something, I get to pay it forward. It means that families who are dealing with immense grief and loss have one less thing to worry about. And, it means I get to love on some awesome cats and dogs until they’re able to get back to their people where they truly belong. I don’t think I could ask for anything more! Seriously, life is great as a Red Paw Volunteer!