This week’s Volunteer Spotlight features Pat Capin, who’s volunteered with Gold Ribbon Rescue (GRR) for over eight years. Founded in 1998, GRR provides a network for sheltering, rehabilitation and placing Golden Retrievers in permanent homes in Central Texas. The organization also provides public education about responsible dog ownership (the Golden Retriever breed in particular), and serves as a forum for Golden Retriever fanciers to meet.
How long have you been volunteering with GRR?
I have been a volunteer since March 2005.
What made you want to volunteer with GRR?
After adopting our Riley and then Dolly, I was so impressed with the thoroughness of the process, I thought I’d like to help out.
What volunteer position do you hold?
I do intakes, home visits, telephone interviews, lots of transport, and I keep the Foster List/key personnel roster. For the remainder of the interview questions, we can focus on transport volunteer.
Explain the activities you participate in as you fulfill this position.
We get notice of a dog in need, and I head out to the dog. Using our intake evaluation form, I judge the dog’s breed and personality soundness. If it seems like a good dog, I alert the Intake Director/Team, and we sort out a plan on getting the dog into care. Sometimes I get dogs that others have evaluated (as I’m able to do long-distance drives since I’m retired) so we count on their evaluation. So far I’ve never gotten a “bad” dog from any of our far-off places. I take photos of the dog and send them electronically to the Intake Team. Once we sort out a transport plan, I go back to the dog and get him/her, and occasionally, them. My husband and I pretty much work the northern areas of GRR’s reach.
About how many hours do you typically spend volunteering in this position?
The normal intake and transport isn’t usually that big of a drive, but our situation up here is unique as we are the outliers, since we are in Belton and not Austin or San Antonio. So don’t let my driving and timelines dissuade you from volunteering to help with intake or transports. Most transports are less than an hour/less than 100 miles round trip.
What is your favorite part about volunteering in this position?
I love meeting the dogs and owners (if the dog is not a stray). I cry with them when they give up the dog, and I banter with the shelter staffs as we try to figure out a name for the stray dogs. And, regardless of why the dog comes into care, I always know that the dog will be given a chance at a new life and that’s terribly rewarding.
Describe a cute/funny/interesting story while volunteering in this position.
My husband and I went to a home in Copperas Cove to evaluate two GR’s that need re-homing. The dogs are immense, I mean, really, like ottomans. So I asked the owner how much she fed the dog per day, and she said “a cup per dog”
Hmm. So I asked to see “the cup” she used. It was like a 72 ounce Slurpy cup! That’s about 6 cups of food/day. For dogs who got no exercise and were middle aged, way too much food. After we brought these nice dogs in, they went to two great foster homes and were adopted out very quickly. While in foster care, both began to lose weight. The new owners were briefed on the green bean diet and that sure helps get dogs slimmed down.
Give one piece of advice for volunteers interested in serving in this position.
Tag along on a few intake evaluations with one of the other members of the group so you get a feel for doing an intake evaluation. If the dog is in a shelter, wear old clothes and always have hand sanitizer with you so you can clean up. The same is true for transport. But in the case of transport, please have a way to restrain the dog while it’s in your car – safer for you and for the dog.
What is one word that describes your experience while volunteering for GRR?