Saturday morning was my first day of volunteering at the Sioux City Animal Adoption and Rescue Center. My expectations going into this service learning were circled around cleaning out dog and cat pens and any other dirty work that a volunteer would more than likely not want to do. I was pleasantly surprised. It is a very independent volunteer service where all you have to do is grab a leash and take the dogs out for walks. I thought this was a very simple and useless task until I actually started on my first walk. Right when you walk into the room full of dog cages they immediately start barking and getting stirred up, begging for you to choose them! The first dog I took for a walk was a Golden Retriever/Border Collie mix and I immediately fell in love with him. We went for our walk and he would not show interest in any of the wilderness, but rather gave me constant gazes to make sure I was still beside him. That’s when I realized what a huge difference it actually is to have volunteers come and take these dogs on walks and erase their sense of loneliness. After that I took three more dogs on walks and also went in the outdoor kennel. While I was there a family looked at one of the dogs I had at the time and ended up taking the dog home. I felt such a relief and excitement for that dog and the family and I had only been around it for maybe ten minutes. I can understand that that would be a perk of the job for the Center’s employees. A rare event also happened while I was there; three Boa-Constrictor’s were brought in that had been seized, as they are illegal in Sioux City. One guy had owned all three snakes that measured 10 feet, seven feet, and 3 feet. I absolutely hate snakes, but I had to get a look! The field transporter refused to handle them, one of the workers could not handle the bigger two snakes, but luckily a frequent volunteer was in the Center and grabbed the snakes and hauled them inside to their cages. I applaud this man because that is one thing I will never do, hold a snake.
It was hard to notice leadership at the Adoption and Rescue Center just because the volunteering is so “on your own”. I did have the chance to talk to a younger worker, however, when she was on break outside. I did not see any of her work activities that she completes, but I could tell she was an informal leader by the way she talked. She said she had been working there for a year and a half, but had volunteered many years before that. She spoke about the animals with a lot of passion and hope for them being rescued by some owners. She knew every single dog and their personalities which shows that she has a lot of dedication to her job, and also to the animals that are trying to get adopted. I think she is a good example of leading through example. Her passion and dedication to the animals can rub off on the employees who are with her each day also.
I did not engage in a lot of leadership activities today. My main goal was to get a feel for the place and get acquainted with the employees. I wanted to have them trust me and start a good relationship with the employees on my first day there. I think I did pretty well at this except for I never formally introduced myself and got their names. I knew right when I left that I should have done that. Next time.
I felt awesome about the days experience. I love dogs, so for them to say I can pick any dog I want and take them on walks was the best thing I could have asked for. The dogs I took on walks were so loving and loaded with energy that each walk was pretty entertaining. To add to the walks, there was an unexpected arrival of giant killer snakes! Well that’s what my eyes saw anyways. It was an exciting day filled with many different animals and I cannot wait to go back again.