What if I told all of my parent readers out there that your family could spend a fun afternoon together, helping out some really sweet, loving animals, and developing those much needed qualities of empathy and compassion? And… wait for it… it’s FREE! I know, right? Sign me up! Last week we took our children on a PAWesome tour (it’s really called that, I’m not just trying to be cute) with Nicole Martin to the SPCA Sanctuary. Believe me when I tell you that it was all of those things and more.
For my kids, the chance to hang out with a room full of tail-wagging pups sure doesn’t feel like community service work, not when it’s so fun. Our children were born into a family of animal-lovers.
They are quite accustomed to search and rescue operations interrupting our normal lives once in awhile, and they are quick to give us their input in every situation. I’ll never forget the time my daughter and I came upon what we thought was a lost human toddler and I ran to get my husband to help communicate the Spanish a little better. As we ran to the house, my daughter spoke to me firmly, like a parent before taking her kid to the pet store, “I don’t think we can keep this one, mom.” We have fostered for MexPup, a great organization, and adopted a poodle mix (Lucy) through them. However, once we adopted our second rescue, Max (who was at first mortally terrified when coaxed out from under our car, and is now the cheekiest little terrier/Chihuahua/Yorkie, etc. this side of the border), we knew it was time to find another way to help our furry little buddies.
I’m sure all of you know that there are several fantastic organizations out there that help animals. And I’m sure you also know that there is always great need for supplies and facilities to help these animals. But what is really needed out there are open-hearted people willing to put in some time. I think children make for great volunteers.
Children can be the most open-hearted of all, and if we start encouraging community service when they are young, remain that way as they grow. They are also, and I speak here for my own kids, happily oblivious to the passage of time on the best day, so they willingly give it up in a heartbeat.
As I said, we took the trip out to the Sanctuary, and we were all impressed.
The facility itself is wonderfully spacious, clean and in great repair. When you looked into the various kennels of the different dogs and cats you could see that they were genuinely cared for. The staff was friendly, knowledgeable and more than willing to share their time with us, answering questions, matching leashed pups to our excited dog-walkers, and handing out gowns to wear in the quarantine area.
Everyone wore a smile, including the dogs, and it was easy to join in the enthusiasm for this very special place. Nicole, our tour guide, also brought her little girl along for the very first time, and it was amazing to see even the tiniest volunteer gently pet the smallest kitten.
My own two children went right to their work of loving eager dogs and cats, and didn’t stop throwing fetch toys, cuddling, coaxing, walking, and more until we told them it was time to go. My daughter, the future vet, didn’t give up the quarantine gown easily, and trailed the gigantic garment through the hallways like a benevolent, mini Florence Nightingale until it was home time.
I found my son helping Nicole’s toddler roll a ball for a determined and feisty little bit of a kitten. What a meaningful, hands-on way to tell our children that, indeed, we have the power to be the change we want to see in the world, even if we start in one animal shelter in a little corner of Mexico.
If you would like to go on a PAWesome tour to the sanctuary and spend a worthwhile afternoon as a family or on your own, contact Nicole Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.