Thank you to October’s Volunteer of the Month, Leora Orent. Leora is one of those volunteers with the passion, energy and thoughtfulness that make her an asset to the APA! team as well as a favorite among our canine residents.
Here’s what her fellow volunteers had to say about her:
“Leora has been there almost every day I have since I started in June (and I go pretty often), and has always been friendly and helpful. She went out of her way to get to know me after seeing me a few times and really helped me feel welcome when I wasn’t sure of my role at APA and if I should even continue volunteering. She’s active in the volunteer community both on Facebook and on-site, is willing to take over dog handling from other volunteers if they’re having trouble, and isn’t afraid to correct mistakes volunteers make.
The other day I was talking to a new volunteer and we took Kraken out to a yard and I forgot to sign them out, and as she saw the kennel open with me in the yard she gave me a reminder to do that in the future. She was also willing to take over Kraken’s time in the yard when it seemed like she was getting overwhelmed by having 2 men in the play yard with her, allowing us to take out another dog in need without cutting Kraken’s time short.
From the start she’s made me feel like a part of the community at APA! and I really look forward to working with her in the future.” – Chris Boerner
“Leora spends a lot of time with the dogs. This is not just a quantity of time; it is thoughtful, loving, compassionate time. Her specialty is the Orange collar dogs. She is passionate about helping them, and they seem to understand that she cares. She makes a real difference in their lives.” – Mary Wood
“She is so sweet to animals and people. She loves the BOO dogs and just really cares about their mental state and improvement.”– Anonymous
“Leora is one of the volunteers who always seems to be there and always is busy helping the dogs get through their day. She has a special touch with the dogs who are shy, scared, or just uncomfortable in the shelter environment. She is also always willing to answer questions and help other volunteers. With her consistent presence, dog handling skills, and commitment to the APA! mission, she is an outstanding volunteer.” – Bic Wood
Now it’s time for a Q&A with Leora:
How did you get interested in volunteering at APA!?
It was just a matter of time when I would be able to begin volunteering outside of my kids’ schools. I had my eye on getting to APA! for a long time. We adopted our first pup from TLAC AAC 7 years ago. I think its pure luck that APA! was my destination. Because it was the location that brought me there. I was ignorant of the APA! mission at the time. I can’t imagine being part of any other organization now. I signed up online for an orientation and that was the beginning of my long-term relationship. It’s addictive. And that’s what I tell people. (A very healthy addiction.) Volunteering at APA! can be like a job if you want. A job with the absolute most flexibility ever.
What are you most passionate about at APA!?
I have always loved animals. There is something very special about them. They are wise but vulnerable in our human world. And they can teach us a lot.It is obvious to me now how little I knew about dogs before I started to volunteer. Even though we had our first rescue since 2007. Now a year and a half later I know a little bit more. I learn something everyday. People who know me know that I really enjoy spending time with the “orange” dogs. After I did my “Boo” training with Samantha, I was hooked. I began spending time with these dogs that have the hardest time relaxing into themselves. And the dogs that need some extra care for some reason or another. I’m just drawn to them. I love gaining their trust. It brings me so much satisfaction to be part of their transformation. Every person that sits with these dogs brings them closer to happiness and a home. And of course that goes for all the dogs at the shelter.
What is your favorite thing to do at APA!?
There are endless things to be done at APA!. When I come, I am there for the dogs. I’ll do what’s needed. My nurturing instinct kicks in. And I’m glad I can still feel that.
What are some words of wisdom for new APA! volunteers?
I think all the volunteers share many characteristics. We’re all a bunch of caregivers. I’m always reminded of a Dr. Seuss line. Except that we here “speak for the dogs.”
There is a very wonderful feeling of caring in the APA! community. Amongst the volunteers and the staff. We are all there for the same cause. So we all help each other. It is a unique place. I am very proud to be part of it. I am not a leader. (That’s probably why I don’t choose to work with the silver dogs.) There is plenty to do as a volunteer. And I appreciate the environment here that allows volunteers to find what ways they want to contribute.
I have learned so much from just about every person I encounter. From the staff, all of whom I have a lot of respect for, and from the volunteers as well. Those whom have been here way before me and from people that began after me as well. I think everyone has wisdom to offer. And in the end we all want what’s best for the dogs. So I think it’s important to be open minded.
Do you have a favorite dog at APA!?
Right now my “favorites” are three. Broccoli is the exuberant, happy, sweetheart. Hannah is the shy fearful one. And Jake is my dear boy who is not feeling very well. I worry about him most now. My hope is for him to get into a foster home very soon.
The hardest part about volunteering is each time leaving before I could spend time with as many dogs as I had hoped to.
What’s an interesting fact about you people may not know?
When I was about 12 we were taking a walk in the fields behind out apartment building in Israel. A big Doberman on guard duty jumped on me. He bit through my pants on my behind. I’m sure I was scared. But I didn’t develop any fears of dogs. I always thought that was interesting. Because I can’t get enough of them now. Just look into their eyes! Thank you APA!.