Skip to content

Simple 4-Legged Difference

Today’s Simple Compassion post is by Teri Keene.  She wanted to share how she makes a difference.  Tuesdays we look at simplifying our lives by looking outside ourselves and making a difference.  Thanks so much Teri for what you do!

I never wanted a dog.  I grew up in a family of cat people.  But I married into a family of dog lovers.  My husband was the one who wanted a dog.  I always figured dogs were too high maintenance.  We were already resolute in our decision to not have children.  Why would we then go and adopt a high maintenance creature like a dog?  But he talked me into it.  About 7 years into our marriage, we adopted a shy little mutt named Odie.  We have since added 2 bichon frises to our furry family.  It’s a houseful to be sure, but we still want to help more animals.  We can’t keep adopting!

About a year ago we took the volunteer orientation class at our local Humane Society.  It’s a no-kill shelter funded by grants and donations from the public.  Like many non-profits they are understaffed and underfunded, but the dogs don’t know that.  They still need to eat, stretch their legs, and get some loving attention.  They are God’s creatures, and they are homeless, broken, and in need.

We volunteered sporadically for a couple of months.  Sometimes we found ourselves doing busy work because there were too many volunteers there at once!  We eventually settled into a routine of helping out on Sunday afternoons when the shelter is closed to the public and running on short staff.  We are usually the only volunteers there at that time.  It is then we make the shelter dogs our dogs.

We have time to exercise the dogs in the play yard, throwing balls, chasing each other around, or working on basic obedience commands.  Sometimes we just sit down and love on them so they don’t forget what it’s like to belong to a human.  We help feed them, walk them, clean up after them and make sure they get a clean blanket and a toy for the night.  Then we go back next Sunday and do it all over again, usually with the same dogs, week after week.

The shelter staff has come to anticipate our Sunday visits and even trust us with bigger things.  Last winter a litter of 8 orphaned beagles, only a week old, were turned in to the shelter.  They needed round-the-clock bottle feeding and frequent attention.  My husband and I talked about helping to foster a couple.  We thought “But they’re babies!  We don’t want babies!  Fostering orphaned puppies for 7 weeks will turn us into parents!”  But the need was big and urgent, so we accepted responsibility for 3 of them.  They were the messiest, smelliest, most intrusive things I’ve ever let into my house.  They were also the sweetest, cutest, most endearing little things I’ve ever cared for.  We helped them grow from warm little lumps into clumsy, long-eared hound dogs.  It was bittersweet to return them to the shelter, but I knew they wouldn’t be there long.  All 8 of the pups were adopted within a week.

People often ask, “How can you do that?  Don’t you want to bring them all home with you?”  The answer is no.  I can’t say that there haven’t been a few that tug on my heart a little bit.  But adding more dogs to my pack would mean less time for volunteering, and we certainly couldn’t foster anymore.  I don’t want them in my home.  I want to make them better pets so that YOU can take them home!  I want to make their life easier until that day arrives.

Anyone can get involved by volunteering at a shelter or by adopting a pet that’s right for your home.  We are all part of God’s family, even the furry 4-legged creatures. It’s our job care for the needy ones when they cross our path, and try to leave them better than we found them.  It makes my heart sing to know that one is saved and in the loving arms of a new family.

Are you involved in making a difference or with a charity you would like share about?  Contact me.


  1. Kim Kim

    Thank you for your volunteer work, people like you make such a big difference. I used to volunteer at our Humane Society and miss it so much. I was hoping to do the same once my daughter was a little older so she could help out too with some of the smaller animals. Unfortunetly we relocated to SE Montana due to a job opportunity for my husband. The county here does not have an animal shelter, apparently they had one a few years ago but it ended up in the animals being conviscated and the woman in charge was charged with animal neglect. They tore it down and the land now belongs to the state. I’ve heard some people will release there pets at the local vet, for others there fate is not so good. Its farm and oil country they aren’t quite as humane to the 4-legged creatures… I am a firm believer in adopting pets, I think they even give you more loyalty as they feel you’ve “Saved” them from “Doing Time”. I’m also firm in my belief about Neutering and Spaying (just saying).

    • Thanks to you both for what you did/are doing. I really want to get my daughter involved in volunteering but I don’t think she is quite old enough yet…will have to check on that so she can get involved as soon as she can. She would love to help.

      • Not sure what you have in your area, but here there are programs where children can volunteer if a parent attends with them. Otherwise, a lot of shelters and zoos have amazing kids’ programs that teaches them about animal care, animal issues, how to help, etc. Good luck!

        • Thanks! We do a bunch at the zoo and have done programs through them before. I need to call around 🙂

  2. All good thoughts Kim, especially about spaying and neutering. I’m also familiar with the isolation of rural life, and the disadvantages it means for pets too. I think it’s one of the reasons I’m motivated to help now. You do what you can, one life at a time, no matter where you are.

Comments are closed.