Giving back

by Lorin Michel Friday, December 11, 2015 7:50 PM

After my dad retired, he used to volunteer at one of the local soup kitchens, especially around the holidays. For years, my brother delivered Meals on Wheels and loved it. I’ve always loved the idea of volunteer work but I’m ashamed to admit have never done much of it. I just haven’t had the time, which I realize is a horrible excuse. I do some pro bono work for animal rescue every now and again, which is sort of like volunteering but not really. 

Today I actually volunteered.

Riley was a rescue. We got him from a group called Southern Arizona Golden Retriever Rescue, SAGRR. They’ve been around for a number of years and have rescued dozens, perhaps more, golden retrievers. Our Cooper was a golden, and Maguire was part golden. When we lost Cooper, Kevin wanted to get another so I found SAGRR online and filled out an application. I was contacted within the week and a home visit was scheduled.

This is what I love about these rescue groups. They truly care about where they’re placing the dogs they rescued, which is as it should be. Unfortunately it isn’t always. When we rescued Cooper from a local group in Westlake Village I could barely get the woman to respond to me. She didn’t seem to care where we lived or what our circumstances were. She just wanted to get rid of Cooper, largely because no one else seemed to want him. We took him gladly, but I never had a good feeling about the group. I felt like we rescued him from the rescue group. 

We’ve felt differently about SAGRR since the beginning. Two ladies came on a Sunday to see our home. They brought a dog with them so she, too, could inspect the premises and see if it was dog friendly. We don’t have a yard so I worried that we wouldn’t “pass.” But we keep all of the toilet seats down which is evidently a good thing (I just don’t like the look of them when they’re up) and the ladies – and the dog, Sugar – must have thought we were OK because several days later we were approved. Several weeks after that, we got our Riley.

I’ve been wanting to volunteer with them since. They do a lot of events around the city to raise money to support their efforts. They’re a non-profit and all of the people involved are volunteers. But there are veterinarian costs to take care of, licensing, and more. We tried to volunteer once before, Riley and I, and it didn’t go well. The group does Meet ‘n Greets at local PetSmarts and Riley nipped at a little boy. We were asked to leave. I was mortified by the whole situation.

We weren’t able to participate in the annual pool party or the Howloween costume party or the parade because of Riley’s anxiety issues. But I knew that Christmas was coming and that every year, SAGRR offers daily gift wrapping service at Barnes & Noble. Dogs and books? Sign me up.

Today was my first time, and it was great. There were dogs and other volunteers. My friend Jenny was there. I didn’t take Riley because he’s not ready for that kind of activity. Maybe next year. But I talked to people, I wrapped books, and we raised some money. Kevin and I are going to volunteer next Saturday afternoon and Bobbi and I are volunteering on Tuesday, the 22nd.

I’ve wanted to volunteer, wanted to give back. Supporting the organization that brought us our Riley Boo, helping raise money to keep rescuing dogs from bad situations, seemed the perfect way to do that. It’s what the season is all about.

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