Rescuing my first dog, a Dachshund, when I was eight years old changed my life forever. As inconceivable is it sounds, I knew something special had just happened. I also knew I was destined to help other animals.
Having worked in all facets of rescue and with various groups of people, I’ve found those in Airedale rescue to be especially driven, motivated, tenacious, and deeply devoted to saving our precious breed.
And so, in 2008, when several states found themselves with an increasing number of homeless Airedales, Lynn O’Shaughnessy rose to the challenge by developing SOAR. Those of us witnessing her determination and knowing how deeply devoted she’d always been to rescuing them, I soon followed her. I myself wanted to do all I could to assist, and it’s been an honor to work alongside such great people.
I especially enjoyed fostering, socializing, and training Airedales in preparation for their forever homes. We did have one “foster fail” however, named Sophie, who came into our lives at the age of 11 ½. She simply decided to remain a Fox and she did, for three wonderful years. And they were three of the best years of my life. Older dogs like Sophie are so appreciative and so loving. She greeted clients at our office every day and was adored by everyone she met.
People usually shy away from senior dogs, but as with everything else in life, nothing guarantees the amount of time you’ll have together. I always encourage people not to bypass that senior dog, not to be cheated out of an irreplaceable experience.
And I still encourage more people to become involved and discover the joys of volunteering. Besides SOAR, I work with the Carolina Raptor Center, and volunteer for local shelters and rescues by photographing their dogs in need of forever homes.
One of my own major achievements with SOAR was getting Layla’s Fund up and running. Although Layla didn’t qualify as a senior when we adopted her, she, like many dogs, underwent two costly surgeries for mast cell cancer. Now, with her fund firmly in place, we can provide financial help for families in similar situations.
My husband and I are both retired now and share our life with Layla who soon turns 12. And once we’re settled in Florida, I plan to become involved with the North Atlantic right whale, which is among the most endangered of the world’s large whales. Once a volunteer, always a volunteer!
For me, volunteering is a full time commitment and the riches it has bestowed upon me are immeasurable — from the wonderful animals who have been part of our family to the wonderful people who have been part of my rescue family. It has helped shape me as a human being, helped restore my faith in people, and helped me understand what’s truly important in life.
Stepping Stones made by
Susan and donated to
SOAR’s Aire Affair Auction