Lori has been volunteering with RASKC for the past 9 years — we are so lucky to have her! She is passionate, a self-starter with a heart of gold. Read our Q&A with her below:
Q. How did you hear about RASKC?
A: In 2004, I took a tour of Pasado’s Safe Haven, just getting started on their animal rescue mission and was inspired to find a place where I could work with animals in my spare time. I moved to Kent in 2005 and was glad to learn that the animal shelter was so close (less than 2 miles away).But it wasn’t until the fall of 2006, when I went to look for a kitten companion for my 2 older cats,that I discovered a volunteer cat cuddling program, and best of all, the perfect companion and little brother for them-an 8 week old livewire I, named Kirby. The rest,as they say, is history.
Q. What made you want to volunteer, especially to work with animals?
A: In March 2007 I started a weekend shift as a cat cuddler,which was the only volunteer opportunity available at that time, other than being a dog walker.Space was limited,and we had to get creative socializing the cats in the area that is now the employee lunchroom.Once the cat building opened in Dec of 2007,I started doing Meet and Greet,and was one of the first to work what is now EMCC,”graduating” from washing bowls and litter boxes in the sink in the feed room every Sunday afternoon. Later in 2009 when I retired, I was asked to go to Reber Ranch,which,at that time was one of the only shelter offsite adoption areas,to clean kennels and socialize the cats.I became a co-lead in Jan of 2010. I’ve tried just about every volunteer opportunity offered, including working on Comcast Pets-on-Demand filming and set up,shelter helper,training as needed, assisting in cat grooming(brushing and helping with nail trims,and still cuddling and socializing). I tried fostering, but since my fosters tend to become too endearing to return,they end up being adopted by me.Out of the 5 that I have, 4 were fosters. It had to stop somewhere!
Q. What do you do when you are not volunteering at RASKC?
A: When I’m not volunteering, I’m getting together with friends, most of whom are pet people, to talk over pet parent issues over coffee, or on regular walks along the Green River trail neighborhood. I do lots of baking, read mysteries, follow baseball, do some creative writing, and love daily crosswords to keep my mind sharp. My cousin and I also explore our Scottish heritage-everything from food,to family genealogy. I participate in lots of church activities including monthly coffee service.My faith is a big part of my life. Everything else,it seems, is cat related and I often feel like I run a combination daycare (for my middle and teenage age cats) and assisted living/nursing home for the two cats I call The Stout Sister,ages 12 and 14. Kirby, the now 9-1/2 year old who started it all, is my Chief of Staff, overseeing the behavior of the others, and at times, is MY caretaker. Nothing escapes his attention, and at nearly 14 pounds, none of us argue with him.
Q. What do you hope to gain from your experience as a volunteer with RASKC?
A: Through my shelter experiences I’ve learned much about animal behavior,signs of illness and treatments available, which has made my job as co-lead at Reber much easier when deciding whether or not a “guest” needs to return to the clinic or the shelter adoption area. I’m still learning from clinic staff,officers,and fellow volunteers. But, I’ve also learned from the animals themselves about their feelings: when they feel loved, or lost and rejected, when brought into the shelter by officers or owners. I’ve learned to be patient with the shy ones,or some who are defensive and aggressive,treating them with respect for the individuals they are.Their individual differences and personalities are what make being around them so interesting and challenging. But most of all, I’ve learned that they are a lifetime commitment, not like something I’ve bought and can return if it doesn’t quite fit or is the wrong color. If we choose a pet to share our lives,it’s a lifetime commitment unless dire circumstances make it otherwise-and if that happens,we have the responsibility to provide, as best we can,another suitable living arrangement even if it means surrendering the pet to a shelter-though that should be the last resort.It’s as important as any other relationship
Q. What is the best advice you would give people who want pets?
A: If I were to give any advice to a new pet owner,I’d tell them to be very, very sure that this is the pet they want, and to do the very best to be sure that,not only is he/she loved and wanted,but their health and well-being become the most important aspect of their lives…good food,trips to the vet,a warm place to sleep,relax,and feeling safe and secure from cars,predators,and the everyday dangers of life in the household,are as important as all of the love and toys one can give them.We are their stewards and we owe them nothing less.
Q. Describe a memorable moment you’ve had with an animal?
A: I’m never tired of being around the cats,and at Reber we have quite a variety. One cat in particular,though, set his own agenda.He escaped while I was cleaning his kennel,and absolutely disappeared somewhere in the store-not hard to do with all of the stock and shelves to explore (not to mention getting out in the barn area). Needless to say, I was frantic, and no amount of calling by Reber staff or myself, brought results.We finally resorted to setting a shelter trap in the store with food and water to attract him overnight, but no cat appeared.The next morning,I checked the back room once again and noticed our yellow bucket of cat litter was slightly wet, wondering if perhaps he’d been around to use this unlimited supply of litter for his own personal litter box. At that moment, I heard a faint”meow”.Up above me in the attic opening, Pickles appeared with a look of: “Here I am, so how do you think you’re going to coax me down now?”. We answered that with some smelly tuna provided by their vet staff person who climbed high up in the rafters to scruff him.He couldn’t resist,and came down into my arms, back to his kennel and ultimately into his forever home at last.That’s how it is with cats:They never cease to amuse or amaze!
Q. What is your life motto?
A: If I have a life motto,it is to be grateful for each morning I waken,since it means that I have been given a job to do,:and that is to be a blessing to someone-human or animal-in whatever way I can. It’s a gift to be alive each day,and I need to pay it forward………………………………..LORI MIDDLETON (9 years volunteering on 3/24- and still loving it!)
Learn more about RASKC’s Volunteer Program by visiting us at: www.kingcounty.gov/RASKCvolunteer