When volunteering takes over!

When I started looking for a volunteering opportunity, I knew it would have to be with animals but having recently become a mum to a human (opposed to my ‘first born’ Monty the Cockapoo) and working full time, I knew that it would likely need to be something that I could do from home – until my daughter is a little older.

We all have our favourite causes; whether that’s a cause that has touched us personally or something that has impacted a family member or friend. For me, it’s always been about the animals, ever since I was little – my great grandma was convinced I was going to be a vet – so it was the first place I looked when deciding who to approach.

DogLost offered the chance for me to put my intermediate PR background to good use and help one of my favourite animals.

I don’t really have a lot of spare time (who does these days?) so it was important that I found somewhere that I could do what I could but not feel overwhelmed and take on too much….. well that was my mantra initially but what I have learnt in these past six months is, if you are passionate about a cause and you really want to make a difference, you will get sucked into the volunteering ‘black hole’ – a place that seems to rid you of the ability to say “no”

DogLost posters for the Odeon Awareness campaign

I no longer casually swipe through Twitter to see what’s happening in the news or to get an update on what’s happening in one of my favourite dramas – I am now searching on hashtags for potential “ins” to help the families who are living with the daily agonising pain of a missing pet and try to give them the awareness that I feel they deserve.

My Facebook feed is very similar; full of photos of dogs and desperate family appeals for help to bring their dog home or even worse, links to selling websites where dogs are being sold for £10 or offered free to a good home (do these people know what the potential dangers out there are for these poor animals?)

For a dog-lover this can be soul-destroying and I have to admit that I have had a wobble or several and considered retreating back into my old world, where family pets are loved and curled up at their owners feet. Then I remember the families I’ve met so far and maybe if I can help just one family then it’ll all be worth it.

My main frustration is getting someone to listen and have an empathy for these stories but sadly in a world of “who wore what best” or “who is now dating who” I find myself, head on the kitchen top at home wondering what these families need to do to get even a hundredth of that exposure.

Missing and stolen dog posters on kitchen table
Missing and stolen dog posters for The Light Cinema Awareness weekend

And it’s not just my waking hours that are now filled with looking for media opportunities, I recently woke from a dream where I was pitching the idea of a TV show to Simon Cowell (okay I get that – best known for judging people, hit TV shows, being an animal lover and of course those crazy high trousers) but more bizarrely my high school English teacher and my grandma were on the panel too! I think it’s safe to say, I’m well and truly down the rabbit hole… At least I wasn’t presenting naked!

I’ve also found myself crying after exchanging emails with some of these families – especially those with young children or those that treat their dog much like I treat mine – another member of the family. So yes I am invested in these stories and yes I may be too emotionally involved but empathy is good, right? As long as I don’t lose sight of why I am doing this or the fact that I can’t just magic these families back together (if only that was the case)

So I apologise to those that I take my frustrations out on and I will try to teach myself that not everyone is going to get it, not everyone is going to share appeals and not everyone is a dog-lover.

I am going to do my best to help the ones that I can and hope beyond hope, that one day someone sees one of the articles written and recognises one of the dogs I am totally invested in and they do right thing and put these families out of their anguish and reunite them with their missing fur-family member.

And just in case you stumble across this and you have any contacts in the media, please do message me below.