If you were ever curious who the talent is behind some of RASKC’s inspirational pet photos, this is your chance to meet our amazing Melissa Blake! Not only is she an amazing photographer, but her dedication and passion to volunteering and working with rescued pets is exactly why we take the time to highlight volunteers on a monthly basis. A magnificent person in and out, read our Q&A with her below:
Q: How did you hear about RASKC?
A: I grew up in Kent. I actually can’t remember when I heard about RASKC. To me, it’s always been there. As a teenager RASKC was a reference point to get to a little park up the hill that we used to call toilet bowl. It was actually shaped like a toilet bowl. I kid you not. A few years ago I adopted a 6 year old Pitty from the shelter after someone tried to break into my house. I was under the misguided idea that Pitties were mean guard dogs. Ha! She is the biggest coward and actually furls her forehead and gives me a look like “you’re going to handle that…right?” whenever she hears a noise in the house. The dog has literally hidden behind me when something scares her. I love my mean old pitty!
Q: What made you want to volunteer, especially to work with animals?
A: I have always loved animals. When my mom’s cat Sox disappeared, one of the first places we went to look for him was at RASKC. We never found Sox, but we did learn a lot about the different volunteer opportunities at RASKC. My mom is really the reason that I’m involved with the shelter. She decided that she wanted to be a foster parent for cats. We took the training together and the next week we both had foster cats. I’ve evolved into different volunteer roles at the shelter, but I continue to foster as well.
Q: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering at RASKC?
A: I work full time as a Paralegal. I am also a Real Estate Agent and a Photographer. During the early Spring time mornings you can probably find me behind the shelter taking pictures of the Great Blue Herons that nest in the trees. They are such a beautiful and fascinating bird. I am also into training and working with my dogs in Agility.
Q: What do you hope to gain from your experience as a volunteer with RASKC?
A: I have already gained so much from volunteering at RASKC. I’ve met some terrific people who share equally in my passion for animal rescue. I get to help an animal find the perfect family after being sick, abused, or turned into the shelter for a variety of reasons. Who doesn’t love a happy ending and I get to witness them all of the time. It’s great! I get to take pictures of some of the beautiful dogs and cats and share their pictures on the RASKC website so their new families can fall in love with them before they step foot in the shelter. There is so much I have already received from volunteering that I would feel guilty asking for more.
Q: What is your life motto?
A: Gosh. I don’t know that I have a motto. I suppose if I had one it would be to look for the humor in any given situation. There is so much that is negative in the world that the real challenge seems to be to focus on the fun and uplifting. I like that challenge.
Q: What is your favorite activity to do with your dogs?
A: Oh easy. Agility! I am addicted to agility. I love to learn with my dogs and seeing the fruits of our labors when we finally get a handling move right or finish a course “clean”. It’s an awesome sport and so rewarding for both my dogs and I. It’s just fun.
Q: What’s the best thing about your cats?
A: I do have cats. I don’t think I’ve ever not owned a cat. Cats are great, because they’re so full of personality. My cats are all rescues and each one has their own little story of triumph. I think the best thing about my cats is that despite what they have been through they are still loving and trusting of people. They have all persevered and are an example of resiliency.
Q: How would you describe your cats’ personalities?
They’re loving, curious, feisty, and possess the typical feline arrogance we cat lovers all seem to adore. I actually enjoy their interaction with my dogs. I’ve trained my dogs to “get little” when meeting small dogs and to leave cats alone. However, training a cat is a practice in futility. They’re not about to do anything they don’t want to do. At my house they have learned quickly that they can set the dogs up and do it often. Poor Jericho, my German Shepherd, is convinced that all cats are traps designed to get him in trouble, which makes him my cat’s favorite target. I’ve walked into the kitchen on several occasions to find him in a beautiful down stay with a terrified look on his face and a cat rubbing up against him and purring as loud as it can. So proud of itself for torturing the dog.
Q: What is the best advice you would give people who want pets?
A; Oh, I could go on and on regarding this topic. A pet is a commitment for the life of the pet. Dog, cat, bird, lizard…it doesn’t matter. They are all depending on you to take care of them and keep them safe. If you’re not ready for that kind of responsibility it’s not the right time to own a pet. It really is just that simple. Also, rescue first. There are so many loving animals at the shelter and many of them are pure breed animals that people didn’t bother to train or do the proper research on. This brings me to my last point on the subject….research! The internet is full of breed specific enthusiast willing to talk endlessly about their chosen breed. The AKC has a fabulous website chock full of information on the different breeds. It’s really a poor excuse to say you were not aware of a certain undesirable trait in a dog or a cat.
Q: Describe a memorable moment you’ve had with an animal?
A: I have had so many memorable moments with animals. I suppose one of the best stories of transformation is with my mom’s little Chihuahua, Patchie. She was my mom’s foster and when we picked her up she had no hair at all. She was a smelly, skinny, sad, pink, little scabby puddle of a pup with these big trusting eyes and I think she stole our hearts instantly. Falling in love with Patchie happens pretty quickly. She’s a master at stealing your heart. She had Demodex and it was the first time we had ever seen something like that. We didn’t even know what color fur she was supposed to have. It was so sad. We started bathing her, medicating her, and feeding her a high quality food. Pretty soon we started to see her ears perk up, her saggy little frame fill out, and I can’t describe how awesome it was for all of us when we started to see the sad little puppy grow hair. Today she is a properly spoiled, plump, happy little white Chihuahua with patches of tan fur who is the sweetest little dogs you could ever imagine. She enjoys playing nurse maid to the fosters that come through the door. She is such a precious dog.
Learn more about RASKC’s Volunteer Program by visiting us at: www.kingcounty.gov/RASKCvolunteer