#78 volunteer

it was carnaval, it was purple, it was for a good cause

Such an ill-formed “thing to do,” this volunteering. Ah well, it’s on the list and so I bring you the tale of a recent foray.

I recently joined twitter (you can follow me on twitter), and subsequently was followed by and then followed @HumaneCozumel; Karla Porter is founder of the Humane Society of Cozumel Island, and currently (among other things) their twitterverse representative. I had heard about the organization here on the island, and seen them in the center of town on nights when they held their “pet parade,” showcasing some of their many dogs and cats looking for a home, and of course, a couple of years ago I had purchased a purple floppy hat and feather boa in support of their fundraising efforts (who didn’t??).

I had been in email contact last spring with Andrea Sekula, who is the (volunteer) Clinic Manager / Adoption Consultant. As noted on the website, they’re always looking for people to “come and help walk or bathe the dogs, and pet the cats.” I’m all about petting the cats, so on a recent Saturday afternoon I decided to go see what all the hubub was about.

"walking the dogs" really means letting them sniff

I made my way on my trusty bike through the jungley looking very Mexican neighbourhood to the shelter, and spoke very briefly to Rodrigo, who is the vet on staff. “I’m here to ask about volunteering.” “Can you take a dog for a walk?” It was that easy. I entered the yard, which was FILLED with puppies, leaping up and all being very puppy-esque. A young man asked me if I wanted to walk TWO dogs. Why not? Can’t be any harder than walking one. The first dog he brought me RAN over to stand next to me, and peed on my leg. You know what? I’m a farm girl; it’s going to take a little more to dissuade me than some dog pee… Off we headed into the neighbourhood. There are lots of dogs in that neighbourhood, so the walks involved a lot of sniffing, a lot of stopping to pee, an awful lot of being barked at, a lot of locals and a couple of surprise tiendas with cookies and odds and ends for sale, and even an ice cream guy on a tricyclo. I ended up walking that pair of dogs, and then two more pairs before I had had enough of the mosquitos! While I was doing that, another couple stopped by and took at least two sets of four dogs out. It’s really easy, and the dogs obviously love to get out, even for a brief while.

i bring high-tech kitten toys; a piece of string

After the dog-walking (which as a cat person I considered my tithe for my upcoming good time) I went into the kitten house and just sat with the kittens for almost an hour. They were so incredibly cute and kitteny! There is one I’ll call Meow-y who had a piercing cry and who did not shut up except when he was asleep. There was Bitey, and Fraidy, and Leaky Eyes and Blackie. Those are the five who decided that they wanted a personal look, and spent most of their time sitting next to me washing themselves, or climbing on me, or sleeping on my lap or my arm, or playing with my keys. Then there were five others who took a serious run at taming the straps and doodads on my backpack, which was on the floor. They really put it through the pouncing ringer. It didn’t stand a chance. After the kittens, I went next door to the cattery and sat with the big cats for a while… They were even more heartwrenching than the kittens. The kittens are all bouncy and full of hope and love and did I mention kitteny goodness? The grown up cats are quite simply starved for affection. They want someone they can call home. This was immediately evident when I sat down, and about half of the twenty or so cats in the room jumped up beside me, motors running full bore. At all times while I was in there, there were at least five cats on my person, including one who seemed completely enthralled by my pony tail and trying to undo it.

"if i followed you home, would you keep me?"

I stayed as long as I could. It was amazing and incredibly sad all at the same time; these animals are all there because they need a home. As long as they are here in the shelter, there are other things they need: donations of Ivermectin, heartworm tests and Immiticide. Check out the website. If you’re in Cozumel on vacation, go and spend an hour or two there; I promise you’ll leave knowing you did a thing that will help.

www.humanecozumel.org and @HumaneCozumel on twitter.

P.S. I’ve been back since this visit. It feels just as good the next time.

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~ by ktatkins on November 26, 2009.

2 Responses to “#78 volunteer”

  1. Kari, we can’t thank you enough for volunteering and then also blogging about it. This is just what we need, caring people who can help us let others know of our work. You are more than welcome anytime, I hope you’ll be inspired to return. ~Karla

  2. I loved it there too Kari! And can’t wait to go BACK in April! We can go together and get some SERIOUS “kitty/Puppy” lovin’ in !!!! And we have decided to bring one of these babies home to live with us in Canada! Oh, and FYI…. it was NOT a big deal at all to bring a CASE of 500 veterinary seringes on the plane with us to Coz! We were VERY nervous about doing so, but go figure! They took our water, and left the needles!!! So, we will be gathering as MUCH donations from our vet/pet stores again for the Society this time around! We can NOT wait!! I wonder who will be coming home with me???

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