Volunteering is better than a part time job

This is Chex. She's the sweetest dog you can ever imagine. And she loves going for walks. I mean really, who can resist that face? What's another 15 minutes volunteering so she can get out for a stroll.

I woke up this morning with a headache, probably from the MSG in the food I ate last night at the Japanese steakhouse. Yummy, but headachy.

My back also hurt. I was cranky. And at 9:30, when I was supposed to leave for the shelter where I volunteer on Fridays, I really just wanted to have another cup of tea and go back to be for an hour.

I’d already been down to the shelter twice this week. I’d heard we got in a bunch of dogs, so on Wednesday I went to go take pictures for the BarkAroundTown.com blog, but ended up walking dogs – including one I kinda fell in love with. Her name is Chex (that’s her shelter name) and she’s an 8 month old Pit Bull/Lab mix. Soooo sweet.

So on Thursday I went back to see her and take her for a walk. I couldn’t get into the room with her run because they were being cleaned, so I walked some other dogs and then took her out for a nice long walk and snuggle time.

Which is why by this morning my back is killing me. I still haven’t recovered from whatever I did to it a few weeks ago when I ended up flat on my back for days. And two days walking dogs – and then entertaining my own furry balls of energy – has taken its toll.

Walking dogs is okay, but I really like working at the front desk, which is my Friday gig. And now that I’m getting the hang of things I feel like I’m at least helpful. And when I’m not, I just chat and entertain until a staff person is free.

Have a dead squirrel in your backyard? I know who to call. See a dog on Petfinder and want to know more about him? I can do that. Ready to adopt a cat or dog? I can help – well, mostly. (I don’t do any money.) Lost your dog and need to see if we have her? I can help with that, too. I’m supervolunteer – I answer phones, file papers, and pretend to know what I’m doing!

When I signed up to volunteer, I agreed to two hours a week – 10 AM to noon on Fridays – because they ask that volunteers give 8 hours a month.

 I’ve really yet to go home before 1 PM, and today it was after 2 PM when I left. (Well, at 2ish I left the desk and then spent 15 mins with Chex.) Things get hectic, you take a phone call, someone else needs something simple done and you do it because it’ll move one more person in and out quickly, the phone rings again and again and again, and before you know it, four hours have passed.

The thing is that I love the work and the people I work with, and if I didn’t have two dogs waiting at home and an article due asap, I’d have stayed longer.

Then again, much as I love it, I’m glad I’m not committed to it as a job. When something comes along that I can’t deal with – someone comes in to surrender a pit bull, for example, which we automatically put down – I’ve learned to say, “I’m a volunteer so a staff member will be with you.” And then I leave so I don’t have to witness any of the emotional turnover, the paperwork, etc.

And when I wake and feel like going in to help, I can. If I don’t, I don’t. I’m not going to lie: I like that flexibility.

Volunteering: the best part time job in the world.

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