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Home / Articles / Columnists / Dog World with Tina /  Give a Dog a Bone
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Friday, October 4,2019

Give a Dog a Bone

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  
Animal loving volunteers devote countless hours, energy, money and resources to helping animals, wild and domestic.


For many, it is our mission in life.

There are no days off from feeding/catching strays, TNVRing (Trap- Neuter-Vaccinate-Return) ferals, fostering, networking, transporting, home visits, organizing/attending adoption events/fundraisers, or losing sleep over the one we couldn’t catch. Pleas for help are relentless, arriving at all hours via phone, text, email and face-to-face interactions. It seems like as soon as we place one pet, two more come in. Volunteers barely have the strength to devote to our own care or furry family. Factor in all that unpaid time away from our jobs/businesses, families, friends and pets. You may rationalize, “I wish I could do that,” “It’s nice they are so devoted,” “She loves animals so much,” or ‘’He chooses to do all that.”

Animal rescue and volunteering can be difficult, heartbreaking and expensive. Rescuers absorb gas costs, wear and tear on vehicles, vet bills and basic care for pets unexpectedly taken in, along with the emotional toll. Many rescuers suffer from PTSD, anxiety or depression. Sadly, we know those who have died by suicide, because their hopelessness became overwhelming.

From complete strangers we get, “Come get my dog, today by 4 p.m., or I’m taking him to the shelter or worse.” From people we know, “I need a favor,” “Will you…,” “Your expertise is needed, but we have no budget,” and my most cringeworthy, “I want to pick your brain.” When I am unavailable/unable to help, I offer ideas, alternatives and resources. Kindness often goes unreciprocated. That can add up.

A dear rescue friend lost it recently and emotionally broke down. We’ve all felt like giving up, at some point. I left her a voicemail, “I’m sorry you’re going through this. Maybe it’s time to take a break. You do so much. Get some rest. Tomorrow will be better. I am here for you.” Kind words, lending an ear, a hug, card or small gift in the mail can restore us, from human selfishness, neglect and cruelty doled upon the helpless, innocent animals we assist. Exercise emotional intelligence. Keep negative energy/comments to yourself. No one needs to see or hear that you “hate people.” It’s hard enough out there.

I’ve granted thousands of requests, given up time, energy and revenue, traveled long distances to photograph elusive dogs, captured hundreds of events, promoted fundraisers, live-streamed, and more. Yet, I see people (who very well know what I do for a living) on social media asking for photographer recommendations. HELLO?! Did you forget about me?! Yet, they still call me for favors and freebies. The tide must turn, there can be no ebb without flow.

When I meet a new volunteer, prospective adopter or foster, I make it a point to ask what kind of work they do/business/hobby they have. Not only does it help me to network with/ for them, but it spreads commerce in the local area. They may very well become the source of a connection, donation, expertise or knowledge. Keeping it local is good for all of us.

Think of the last person you received a (animalrelated or other) favor from, got great advice, did something kind, or went above and beyond. Did you return the favor? Refer them/their business when you hear of someone looking for a product or service. That will enable them to keep helping animals. We reap what we sow. We must work together and pay it forward – for the animals, for each other, and for ourselves.


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