A volunteering story by: Chris Clason
In the beginning, Jenn started helping out easy with whatever odd tasks they needed doing. It would take only a little time to take a couple of dogs on a walk, donate some dog food, or take a dog to a vet appointment. Soon however, she wanted to get more involved. Jenn began volunteering her time to man the booths at adoption events hosted during various festivals, farmer’s markets and community events. As she became more integrated in the organization, she started helping plan and execute fundraising events such as 5k Walk/Runs.
When she had free time, she would participate in rescuing boxers from kill shelters, and even went on ‘home visits’ to verify that the potential adopters had suitable environments for the dogs they applied to adopt. Eventually, she opened her own home up to foster boxers that needed somewhere to live and someone to care for them before they were adopted.
This fostering process could occasionally take quite a while if the dog had suffered abuse or injury before being rescued, leaving them in need of physical recuperation and/or behavioral modification before going to their ‘forever homes.’ Jenn fostered 7 such dogs in her own home, one at a time, helping them become healthy, gain or lose weight and learn how to be a ‘good dog.’ Jenn’s dog training skills were really put to the test as she made sure that each of them were properly potty trained, socialized, could respond to basic commands, and didn’t have barking issues.
In addition to all the above, Jenn also took over the social media presence for the organization, running the Twitter and Facebook accounts for the group, even throughout her move out of Austin to the Bay Area. She continues to do this for them to this day!
Jenn’s brother had a boxer named Cisco that made a big impression on her. She loved going over to her brother’s house to hang out with Cisco every chance she got. It was these sessions that convinced her that boxers were the best dogs in the world! Cisco showed her that boxers were friendly, good with kids, very smart, and super fun to play with.
Over the years, Jenn and Cisco became almost as close as Jenn and her brother. They would go on dog-dates to run on the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail, or to Zilker Park to play Frisbee. Eventually Cisco passed away of old age. Jenn was heartbroken, but after a while, she decided to adopt her own dog. Having heard about the horrors of puppy mills and about all the unwanted animals languishing (or worse) in shelters, she decided to pursue ‘rescuing’ a dog instead. When she discovered Austin Boxer Rescue, she knew she had found the right organization.
Seeing how dedicated the volunteers were to saving and rehoming boxers in need really inspired her. There were always more dogs that needed help, with no end in sight! They already had a large number of volunteers, but there was always something more that needed doing, from getting dogs out of kill shelters, to taking them to and from vet visits, as well as adoption events, fundraising, and more. After adopting a beautiful and loving dog named Chloe, she knew she wanted to do more, so she joined Austin Boxer Rescue.
The Aha! moment…
Throughout Jenn’s time working in person with Austin Boxer Rescue, Jenn experienced many highs and lows. Part of what first struck Jenn when she started was the heartbreaking condition that some of the dogs arrived in. Dogs that had been brutally abused and/or neglected were not uncommonly brought in, usually found by tips from concerned neighbors. Sometimes it was hard to even look at them! Seeing what some people were capable of doing to an animal was certainly depressing at times. She felt pity, sorrow, and even anger at the perpetrators of such violence.
Helping the dogs recover, rehabilitate, and get re-homed was the only way to not become terribly depressed. During Jenn’s time working with Austin Boxer Rescue in person, four dogs did not survive and succumbed to the ailments they came in with. In contrast to the dark realization of the depth of animal abuse humans are capable of, Jenn was sometimes moved to tears to see how far her fellow volunteers would go to save dogs in need.
Others like Jenn fostering dogs would spend several weeks setting alarms to wake up every few hours in the night just to bottle feed puppies that had lost their mother. Knowing that there were many more people who wanted to help and were willing to put forth the time and effort necessary to continually make dog’s lives better gave her hope and optimism for humanity.
To summarize it in three words…
Why should you do this
Jenn would suggest to any people considering volunteering to go out and do it immediately! Giving of your time, energy, and/or money to a cause you find worthy gives you an incomparably good feeling. Even when you’ve had a rotten day, or things haven’t been going your way for a while, there is solace in knowing that you’ve helped further a cause larger than yourself, and hopefully made a person’s or animals life better in the process.