I want to include my opening letter for Brief Paws, but invite you to peruse the entire newsletter!
September means back to school, new beginnings, the best weather of the year, the first day of autumn, and cool mornings… don’t you just love this time of year?
Speaking of school, we have great news for you. WHS staff and volunteers went back to school a little early in August so we could enroll our dogs in some upgraded programs in September. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Animal Farm Foundation, who covered all the costs, we hosted Aimee Sadler here for a Playing For Life seminar and a week of hands on workshops for our staff, volunteers, and shelter dogs. We met colleagues from shelters throughout western Oregon, and saw the magic that can happen when shelter dogs have daily social and physical outlets to burn energy and learn new skills. What she did for our shelter is best described later in this newsletter by Annie Ingersoll on pg. 8, but I loved the chance to learn so much from someone of Aimee’s caliber.
What I took away from this intensive week of training- in addition to new skills and knowledge- was even more appreciation for our staff and volunteers, and the incredible dedication we all share for helping our animals.
You’ll be pleased to hear that Aimee, who has experience with shelters throughout the country, complimented our staff and volunteers, saying that we have integrated our teams so effectively, there is no evidence of “us and them” hierarchies, but rather everyone pulling together to do what is best for the dogs and respecting each other in the process. Some of you reading this were there, but every one of you who supports WHS made the week possible.
The way we funded Aimee’s first training here in 2010- the reason we have had playgroups for the last four years- is in part because of the DIG fund, which comes in a nickel at a time for bottles and cans! Whether you volunteer to run a playgroup, donate monthly to the Golden Hearts Club, bring us your bottles and cans, or give when you’re able, I am so proud of what we accomplish here together through our teamwork and mutual concern for the animals.
Bowser’s Boo Bash
October will bring us one of the real highlights of the season, Bowser’s Boo Bash, the weekend before Halloween! I remember the first Boo Bash I attended in 2005. I had not previously been much of a costume person, so I was amazed and impressed by the variety of costumes I saw, but it was nothing compared to last year. The variety and creativity and humor just seem to get better every year, and I can’t wait to see what and who will show up this year. What will you be?
The real lasting impact Bowser’s Boo Bash had on me, however, was the experience I had witnessing the overwhelming generosity of our supporters, some of whom never even come in to the shelter. As a shelter staff person, I am part of a unique group of human beings capable of working with the extreme emotional complexity, the never ending workload, and the relatively low paying but highly rewarding work that is animal rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming. I don’t have to tell you that stress levels run high among shelter workers, but what you may not realize is what an impact your giving has on our ability to continue to do our work. Yes, your donations fund vaccines, and food, spay and neuter surgeries, and the day to day expenses of operations, but when you publicly raise your hand and pledge your support, you become the moral, ethical and emotional antidote to the stress called compassion fatigue that can overwhelm our staff. You balance the books for humanity, reminding us that people are more kind than not, more generous than not, and more supportive than we would ever know if it weren’t for this event. You are the face of good, no matter what mask you choose to wear that night.
Don Bourne and his wife Eileea are a couple who have been the icon of that goodness for me since the first year when the auctioneer said, “Who wants to raise their hand and donate $5,000 dollars for the animals?” Don raised his paddle, and I had tears running down my face with gratitude and amazement that people really could be that GOOD!
Beyond Ordinary Goodness
This year, Don and Eileea have gone above and beyond ordinary goodness with an extraordinary gift, and they hope to inspire you to do the same. They are supporters of Willamette Humane Society since 1973, but this year they wanted to donate to WHS in a way that would create a sustainable legacy that would keep serving the animals even when they are gone. They have given a $75,000 dollar gift to our endowment fund, which will help fund spay and neuter surgeries with an annual distribution. They realize that a healthy, well-funded endowment is the key to sustainability for a non-profit organization, and they encourage all of our supporters to consider making a gift to the endowment fund. I cannot, no matter how I keep trying, really convey how deeply the Bourne’s gift inspires me to be the best steward of their gift, and to provide outstanding care for homeless pets in our community while working at solving the problem of overpopulation through our spay and neuter programs. You can read more about how we’re balancing the cat overpopulation from Buster on page 11.
When November comes, and Thanksgiving reminds us all to focus on gratitude, I know my heart will be full to overflowing with every story, every donation, every volunteer hour, every animal saved because of your support and engagement with our mission.
With enduring gratitude,