Paid in Smiles

My sister, Debra, is involved in rescue of the feline sort. She is part of a group with a well-earned reputation for its effective trap, neuter and release (TNR) program to reduce the feral cat population in her town back East. A much better writer, she blogs about her work with this all-volunteer community effort, and the joy of living and working with animals in general. (Stealing one of her images…I’m pretty sure she’ll forgive me).

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Her program had a tough week – the kind where you find the limits of what you can and cannot accomplish or cure.

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Every couple of weeks, we put new recruits through a volunteer orientation.

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The long-term “stick-around” rate is in the low double digits because they encounter the kind of realities my sister faced this week. Hard work – this rescue stuff. It takes a giant heart that you have to be willing to leave open – while simultaneously protecting, knowing that the work makes an important difference as it did for our Kobe, here.

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“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.” ~ Victor Hugo

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I am in awe of the people who remain committed to difficult efforts despite the emotional risk. When I look at these faces, I am so grateful for the humans who return – week after week – to ours. Meet Mary, 12:

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And Libby, also 12:

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“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” ~ Edward Everett Hale

I nearly forgot to update you … sweet Emma, my first surrender intake, went home just two weeks after she arrived. From fear and trepidation…

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to happy and excited to begin her new life – you would not recognize her as the same dog.

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“Volunteers are paid in six figures…S-M-I-L-E-S.” ~ Gayla LeMaire

Kasey…all 14 years of him. 🙂 Payment made.

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Time to Appreciate

There’s one major drawback to an all-volunteer organization: when you want to have a Volunteer Appreciation Picnic, everyone has to work harder so we can appreciate ourselves.

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The annual event was held Sunday at Homeward Bound, which meant days of primping, weeding, cooking, and fussing to make the rescue look perfect and create a Thanksgiving-worthy feast. It was also the official Memorial Garden Dedication,

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and the garden was dressed for the occasion.

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Gina and Sarah did the flower arranging (with Hank’s help);

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a bouquet for each table from each bed of the garden (some out-of-season Tulip and Iris representatives did sneak their way in).

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The pups played nicely in the large park under the watchful eye of Pack Leader Laurie and a few other volunteers while their humans enjoyed a feast and some music.

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In the garden, some critters were doing a little feasting of their own. These red and black beetles on the milkweed multiplied ten-fold while I was on vacation so they were dispensed with,

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and Maria angered the wasps by spraying their very large nest at exactly the wrong time of day. They sought refuge at the base of St. Francis’ skirt, climbing over their poor comrades’ fallen bodies.

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The lizard and crawdad were allowed to stay, however – much to Lilly’s delight!

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Despite unseasonably warm temps, it was a wonderful day and a great way to show our appreciation for each other. Canines and humans alike.

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