July 2020 Volunteers of the Month: Meet Liza and Clara!
Meet Liza & Clara! RASKC is very pleased to honor Liza Tewell and her adult daughter Clara Koch, who have been fostering our animals every year for the past 13 years or so. So far they have contributed more than 6,000 foster hours. Foster Care Coordinator Lori Mason said, “Liza and Clara are both very sweet and love the puppies!”
Q: How did you hear about RASKC?
A: The shelter is just a few blocks from my office. When she was younger, Clara spotted “the big red barn,” then heard about the opportunity to be a volunteer Dog Walker. We began volunteering in 2007 or 2008.
Q: What made you want to volunteer, especially to work with animals?
A: Clara has always loved animals, but she was too young at the time to be a Dog Walker. So instead of bringing her to the shelter to volunteer, we brought the shelter to us via in-home fostering! We started with bottle baby kittens, then had the opportunity to foster puppies- some just a few days old. We’ve always been able to find them wonderful homes, often with friends, family or co-workers. So we’re still able to see some of “our babies” fairly often. And we’re always available to babysit! One little guy, a soft and lazy tan-colored “Shorgi” (half Shi-tzu, half Corgi) which Clara named “Loaf”, now spends his days as a comfort animal in an assisted living facility in California where he gives and gets lots of love.
My co-workers love it when I bring the little ones to work for “puppy therapy.” We’re not allowed to bring animals into the buildings, so we get together on the lawn. It’s a great way to help both the puppies socialize and my colleagues de-stress. Some have even found their forever homes this way.
Q: How would you describe your pets’ personalities?
A: We have one failed foster dog named “Luna”. She’s a “blue” pit bull with a moon-shaped shock of white on the nape of her neck (hence her name). She is incredibly sweet and gentle and has been a real help as an auntie to even the smallest and youngest of the puppies and kittens we’ve fostered. We have one failed foster cat named “Anastasia.” She is a Siamese and can be either extremely shy or very affectionate (and sometimes very loud). Luna thinks Anastasia is her cat. Clara had lots of little animals growing up, including a Chilean Degu named “Diego.” He was very smart.
Q: How would you describe yourselves?
A: We’re all adventurous lifelong learners. And we can turn pretty much anything into a competition. I was born on Capitol Hill. Clara was born in Burien and raised in Des Moines. We’re true Seattleites. When my sister and I were in grade school, our parents built a house above Three Tree Point. It was a magical area and we made lifelong friends.
In her first dive meet as a freshman in high school, Clara won first place. She lettered in both diving and volleyball in school. She also won lots of tournaments with her club volleyball team, as well as winning competitions with her club dance team. I was a competitive Scottish Highland dancer for many years and earned a spot to nationals four times.
Q: What is your life motto?
A: I think that, especially now, it’s important to remember that life is worth living. It’s a rollercoaster, so we need to hang on tight for the ride. As a very wise person (my mom) told me a long time ago, you can survive anything if you know it won’t last forever. So to sum that up, I’d say have patience and persevere.
Q: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for RASKC?
A: I’m a writer for REI’s website. Clara is an amazing chef and is always making new dishes. We also love spending time in the outdoors, on the water sailing or paddleboarding, camping, swimming, hanging out at farmers’ markets and concerts on the lawn, going to Scottish Highland Games, or just taking a walk. Though this summer we’re going to have to be creative about how we spend our time outside.
Q: What have you gained and hope to gain from your experience as a volunteer with RASKC?
A: It’s been a joy for me to share the experience of fostering with my daughter. We’ve made so many memories and have so many stories to tell. After we said goodbye to our first few fosters, I thought it would get easier to let them go. It’s not. It’s always bittersweet, but a little less painful knowing they’ve found loving forever homes.
Q: Describe a memorable RASKC moment.
A: One holiday we were fostering a little Chihuahua mix I named “Bug” (because of her big ears). A potential foster that I’d had lined up fell through, so it was the first time we made the decision to bring a foster into the adoption area at RASKC. It was the Saturday before December 25. Though I wasn’t quite ready to let her go, I knew that if we waited until after Christmas her chances of being adopted quickly would be slimmer. I also knew in my heart that somewhere out there someone had asked Santa for a dog, THIS dog. I went back the next day to visit and learned she had been adopted two hours after I dropped her off. It made me so happy, yet I’ll admit I cried a little bit knowing I’d not see her again.
Q: Fun facts?
A: Clara’s great-great-great-great-uncle won the Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering the tuberculosis bacteria. I won a prize in a salmon derby when I was little for catching “the dirtiest fish.”Q: What else would you like to say about volunteering for RASKC?
Q: What else would you like to say about volunteering for RASKC?
Volunteering at RASKC is life affirming and life changing. There are so many ways to help, I encourage everyone to check it out, and the entire staff is super nice!