I can’t help but be glad that January is over. I spent a good part of it sick with various ailments and took three different antibiotics trying to get over everything.
The good news is that February started out wonderfully: I faced a fear.
You know that I love animals, especially cats. Over the years I have become more passionate about animal welfare, especially with companion animals like cats and dogs. I have read a lot and thought a lot and talked a lot and written a lot. I have taken care of four different cats. But I didn’t believe I was doing enough.
I have talked about volunteering with the local shelter, but I haven’t done anything about it besides inquiring about opportunities by email.
|The Campbell County shelter. It's a dreary looking building. The county government is discussing whether to renovate or build a new facility.|
In Campbell County, the Animal Control Care Center is separate from the humane society that operates in the county. Animal Control has to accept every animal brought to it—stray or surrendered by owner. And it is not a no-kill shelter.
Some caring people formed a group called Friends of Campbell County Control. The mission of the group “is to provide support for the animals of Campbell County and reduce the euthanasia rate.”
I follow the group on Facebook and have been so impressed at the all-volunteer efforts to care for animals and try to get them fostered or adopted.
|Fern, one of the cats in the shelter.|
I never moved forward with my efforts to volunteer because I was afraid.
One of these fears is an OCD fear: fear of responsibility, that I would hurt an animal because I would shirk in my responsibilities and do something wrong. I would obsess over safety and health issues and compulsively do unnecessary things to try to make my anxiety go away.
My thought process was that if I avoided responsibility, I wouldn’t have the obsessions.
Adopting Waddles helped me a lot with this fear. But taking care of more animals, more than we ever had in our house, raised the fears again.
|Honey Bee loved being held and cuddled. She wanted me to continue paying attention to her.|
And I was afraid because of my anxiety. I tend to take the suffering of others to heart, sometimes to the degree that I get very emotional. I was afraid of what I would see and experience in the shelter. I was afraid of how I would feel when I had to leave the homeless animals behind when I went to my own home.
I used to put much more value on my feelings about something than I should have. That’s an OCD problem, too. If I feel like something is wrong, then something must be wrong and I better check it, fix it, repeat it, or avoid it.
|Turbo has a loud purr when he's held.|
But the more I spend in the quiet, thinking and writing about my values and beliefs, the better I understand that fear is a natural response to doing something different. I have to push through such fears and the accompanying feelings and at least give things a chance.
|Kittens surrendered to the shelter by the owner. The yellow ones are boys and the black ones are girls. It's hard to get a still photo of a moving kitten!|
|This boy is new to the shelter and doesn't have a name yet. He seemed frightened. But when I opened the cage and talked to him and rubbed him, he started purring and rolling around.|
This past Friday night, I sent the Friends a message on Facebook asking about the next orientation date. They wrote back that it was on Sunday. I told them I planned to attend.
I was excited and afraid. Believe me, I thought of excuses not to go. I didn’t feel 100 percent physically. I felt guilty leaving Chase Bird to go help care for other animals.
But I got in the car and drove to the shelter. I exposed myself to my fear.
When I left 90 minutes later, I felt joy and contentment.
I will be spending most of my time with the cats, which I was told was good because most volunteers want to walk the dogs.
I loved on the animals and talked to them and helped with some simple assessments on whether certain cats were OK with dogs and/or other cats.
Barbe, the leader of the volunteers, knew I was thinking of getting another cat, and she insisted on taking a photo of me and Bastet, a lovely tortoise kitty. Then she texted the photo to Larry.
|Me and Bastet. She is in a purple cage in the waiting area, acting as "greeter" to visitors.|
No, we’ve not made a decision to adopt yet. But I plan to go back soon and whenever I can to volunteer and love on those cats and let them know that humans can be kind to them.
What a great day it was!
I am still waiting on word about the job. The person in charge of hiring was out of town three days last week but told me he would be in touch with me this week. So I wait. Thank you for your good wishes!
What has been your favorite volunteer activity?