I first became involved with PADS because I wanted to raise a puppy in my classroom (I think there should be a puppy or dog in every classroom!). However, before that could happen, I retired. That was about five years ago now and I’ve been volunteering as a raiser and sitter ever since. I’ve cared for almost fifty different dogs now, some for only a few hours and several for a number of months each. I’m currently helping with the Advanced Dogs program, typically caring for dogs who are waiting for their client placements to be finalized after they have finished their training. I’ve sponsored PADS Quixley for four years, from a little puppy to working dog and was very proud to see him graduate this year. Now that Quixley is on his way, I intend to continue my sponsorship with one, or maybe even two, of the new puppies who have been born in recent weeks.
I support PADS financially for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that our wonderful dogs are life-changing for the clients who they end up supporting and loving, and I want to do my little bit to help make that happen. Because I have been working with older dogs the past couple of years, I’ve been able to hear directly from several clients what a night and day difference getting a service dog has made for them. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know a couple of the clients personally, too, and seeing them with their dogs makes it pretty hard not to want to support the program that has made it possible.
PADS does something else pretty wonderful, too, which is not so immediately obvious. As well as our clients, there are several hundred volunteers whose lives are also being changed and greatly enriched by their involvement with PADS. Sure, raising puppies is hard work, and sometimes challenging and even frustrating, but it is also extremely fulfilling, and life-changing in its own way. It’s certainly filled my retirement with meaningful, important things to do and puppies to love and be loved by, and it has helped me become part of a wonderfully supportive community of like-minded people. It’s hard to imagine what I would be doing with my life right now if it weren’t for PADS! I’m sure that most, if not all, PADS volunteers would agree that being involved with PADS has greatly enriched their lives and even the greater communities in which they live. This, too, is something that I’m very happy to be able to support.
As for why I volunteer, it’s pretty simple. It brings all of these wonderful dogs and wonderful people into my life, and it gives me something challenging and truly meaningful to do in my retirement years. Who could ask for more than that?
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