The GTHS has over 300 active volunteers that dedicate their time every day to helping the animals in our shelter. It is truly a labour of love and we could not do our work without their dedication and help.
When we have a moment, we like to tell their stories. Each volunteer has come to our shelter for a different reason and their stories are all beautiful.
Bonnie has been a volunteer at the GTHS shelter for almost six months. Primarily a dog walker, Bonnie volunteers as often as she can throughout the week and will make sure that every dog receives love and exercise. Wanting to give even more, Bonnie will never hesitate to volunteer in other areas of the shelter. She is also a PAW monthly donor.
When we asked Bonnie to write a bit about herself, we knew that her words were too impactful to summarize. Here is what Bonnie wrote:
Dear Sonya & the GTHS team,
I have said that my volunteering to walk dogs was purely self-serving, selfish, and it remains so to this day. It’s to keep me sane, to hang on to what is good in this wee piece of the world we live in.
June 19, 2014 was the day my husband passed away from kidney failure. At that time, we had two Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Hunter, 12 and Heart, 10, both raised from puppies. October of last year, Heart developed a softball sized tumor in his tummy and I waited as long as was humanly possible to hug him into heaven. As I was not able to keep our home, I sent Hunter off to another home before I made the move in November to Collingwood. I took a few belongings and settled in with my Mom in her apartment along with my sista’, Suzie, her wee dog.
I was fortunate that a neighbour friend could recommend me for a job at Loblaws part-time. What could I do with all the other hours in the day? I came upon information for volunteering at the GTHS. I waffled on this a lot. Would it hurt more to visit and then leave? There was a persistent nagging in my mind, day after day, to go see what it was all about and then decide. So I gave in to that constant urging in my brain and discovered I would be willing to try, and if not too demanding, would fit it into my schedule. I would find out if helping other dogs would heal my hurts and help me fill such a huge void in my life. But could I be good enough for them? Dare I say, I think I am? They don’t care what I look like, how I smell or if I spill tears, stories or sing.
Occasionally, I feel abandoned. I have been abused and mistreated various times in this life and so I try to bring a little love to some of God’s creatures that may be suffering, as I have. The shelter provides for the less fortunate, including me.
There is great peace, reward, love, purpose and now laughter that I get from sharing time with these extraordinary “cast aways”.
It is important to me to race out to the shelter at every opportunity so I don’t let them down. I can feel they are just waiting for the contact, hugs, kisses, love and maybe even to go outside with a caring friend who accepts them as they are. Oh, and a few treats on the side.
This makes me feel better, every time. So, you can clearly see just how self-serving this volunteering thing has become.
My favorite part? Taking what I’ve learned and passing it on to a new furry friend, then being able to witness the results.
They learn to trust, and then to love.