By Beth Mauder, Adoption Counselor for Animal Friends
This morning a gentleman visiting the shelter asked me jokingly, "So, you get paid to do this?"
His question made me think about all the experiences I have had over my almost 20 years with Animal Friends.
I have been able to start each day anxious to see what the day will bring me. Some days are awesome. Some days are very hard. Even on the rare occasion we lose the fight to rehabilitate and find a home for one of our furry charges, I believe that animals live in the moment. I believe they knew they were well loved and cared for in the time that we had them.
One animal that really sticks out in my memory was Melba, a severely emaciated red Chow with a distinctive crooked tooth. I met her back when Animal Friends was located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. I walked her to the shelter from Penn Animal Hospital, where she had been boarded. It took me over an hour and a half to make the 5-block walk because she was so frail and slow. But, in time, I watched her gain weight and thrive with the care and the love she received at Animal Friends.
I also remember the day Melba went to her new home. Her owners made sure to stop by and update me with her progress. They loved and cared for her for nearly 10 years and stopped back to let us know when Melba had crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
I remember the first time I chased a loose cat with a flashlight around the back alleys of the Strip District, wondering, "How safe is this? What am I thinking?"
I also remember chasing over 30 semi-feral cats that Kathy Hecker, our Humane Officer, had rescued from a car. They all looked alike and it took quite awhile to figure out exactly how many cats we had and if we had accidentally named the same cat twice.
I remember Duke, the big old Lab who carried his teddy bear everywhere he went.
I remember Lucy the cat, who lived in our office (and sometimes hung out under my desk) and was the only one who was allowed to sleep in our CEO’s office! I also remember that people who bought t-shirts at this time always took home a little something extra (a bit of Lucy's fur) because her favorite place to nap was in the t-shirt bin.
|Lucy, in Animal Friends' former lobby, 2003|
I remember bottle feeding my first “baby,” taking my first dog through behavior classes at Animal Friends and adopting my first cat…who was feral.
“Yes. I do get paid to do this,” I was able to answer with a smile. You don’t get memories like these working in an office. What more could I ask for?