volunteer

Fantastic Friends Feature: Shannon C

shannon cummings volunteer at the wake county animal center raleigh nc beerded lady bottle shop

Name: Shannon C

Volunteer Position(s): Fido Fitness, Adoption Counselor/Matchmaker, Playgroup Runner, Canine Cuddler, Feline Cuddler, Rabies and Microchip Clinic Scribe and Miscellaneous Transport

How long have you been a volunteer?

I have been volunteering at WCAC since November 2017.

What attracted you to volunteering at the Wake County Animal Center?

We adopted our first dog, Staniel, from WCAC in September 2011 and our second dog, Jet, in August 2012. Back then I was one of those people who said things like “oh I could never volunteer there, because I couldn’t deal with the heart break” or “I would want to take them all home”.

I left my full-time job in late 2014 to open my own business. During the next couple of years, I was swamped trying to get the business off the ground and helping to raise my 2 step-daughters.

Then in 2017, life finally started to settle down. We moved closer to our business, so I wasn’t having to spend the mornings dealing with carpool, and all of a sudden I found myself with spare time.

My natural state is lazy. I would get up at 5:30am with the family, the girls would catch the bus at 6:45, and Antares would leave for work at 7, and I would go back to bed with the dogs, get up a couple of hours later and head to the shop.

One day, while laying in the bed, I was talking to the dogs. I often like to ask them what their lives were like before we adopted them, if they remember their previous families, if they remember the day we met, the day we brought them home, etc. This particular day, I told Staniel how the kennel attendant said “he is so smart” as she brought him out from the back on his slip lead, and I told Jet how his kennel card bio said he was a volunteer favorite. I told them how lucky we were to find them and how lucky they were to have had people at WCAC to take care of them until we met. Then, I started thinking about this free time I had, and how I could be one of those people!

I really don’t know why it took so long for that seed to get planted, but once it did, it grew an entire garden. I have been very fortunate that our business is doing well, and so I am not required to be there as often, and so I try to give as much time as I can to the animals at WCAC. I just wish I would have started volunteering sooner!

What is your favorite breed or dog type (fluffy, small, big, chunky, etc)?

It will come as no surprise that I love all dogs, but I am especially drawn to bully breeds. My boys are 55lbs and 110lbs, so any bully breed that falls in that spectrum almost always gets a quick cuddle from me when they first get to WCAC if I have time after walking.

Tell us your favorite moment to date as a volunteer.

I honestly can’t narrow it down to one or even ten. Not a specific moment, but a recurring one that never gets old is when I meet a dog that is either terrified or on the verge of shutdown, and I get to spend time with them, either cuddling, walking, in playgroups, or ones in the back that get brought out to the yard and I get to see them open up, become more confident, and just enjoy being a dog. These are some of the moments that bring happy tears to my eyes and warms my heart. Just one of the many reasons I love volunteering.

Of course, most volunteers have their own pets. Tell us about them!

I have 4 fur babies! Staniel is a 55lb boxer/bulldog, and he is 8.5 yrs old. Jet is a 110lb plott hound/rottweiler/staffy mix, and he is 7 yrs old. They are both spoiled rotten, but Staniel thinks he is king. Jet is twice his size, but he gives Staniel anything he wants. All Staniel has to do is give him a look or a moan, and Jet will drop his toy or move from his spot. Silly boys! We also have 2 female silver tabbies. Clementine is 13yrs old, and Astra (aka Fatty) is 9yrs old. They are best friends. They spend their day cuddled together on Kaya’s bed or staring at birds out the window. We are very grateful that all of our pets are best friends and genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

What sage piece of advice would you give to people who want to become a volunteer?

Just do it! It seems like such a simple thing to say, but if it interests you, do it. For me, starting a business was a fun challenge. Helping to raise 2 loving, well-rounded, kind-hearted step-daughters has been beyond rewarding. However, volunteering at WCAC has changed my life. The ability to make a difference in the lives of animals when they needed it most is so gratifying. Giving your love, time and attention, and getting repaid in tail wags and sloppy kisses, there’s nothing quite like it. Being part of such a dedicated group of people who give so much of themselves unconditionally is the icing on the cake.

Interested in becoming a volunteer like Shannon?

You can learn more about the volunteer program at the Wake County Animal Center or fill out an application by visiting their website.