Back to the Old Drawing Board
One of the best words to describe Karen Holt, volunteer for eleven years, is animated. She tells stories about Homeward Pet’s early years with evocative expressions, her smile knowing as she remembers when the shelter was only a few rooms and a couple of sinks for all the baths and food bowl scrubbing.
As Homeward Pet grew, taking in more animals and expanding its number of sinks, so did its cohort of regular staff and volunteers. Though many faces came through, few have remained as dedicated and consistent as Karen, who has been a Tuesday morning dog volunteer for the entirety of her time with us. She’s a jack of all trades, having had experience with all facets of shelter care from her previous experience with animal welfare groups, but now she mostly sticks to feeding, cleaning, and preparing the dog area for our weekly transport of cats and dogs from Yakima.
“When I hear, ‘Yakima’s here!’ I know I’ll be working even harder very shortly, giving the dogs water, bedding, and toys just as they’re arriving,” she says. Though the hours can be hectic, her consistency has never wavered. Her enthusiasm for animals, she reveals, comes from a young age, when her father instilled in her a love for four-legged friends. She and her family have offered shelter to many dogs throughout their lives.
Only recently, however, has Karen revealed a secret talent beyond that of diligent loyalty: brilliant, timely cartoons on the dog room whiteboard. Originally, she says, it was suggested that the board be removed because no one used it for anything.
Then Karen and her markers stepped in.
Each week, armed with an arsenal of colors, she puts her drawing talents—discovered after winning a citywide contest when she was four—to work. Her drawings range from current events (August’s eclipse inspired a line of glasses-wearing pups) to classic movie scenes (Singin’ in the Rain’s Gene Kelly transformed into a warbling pooch) to holidays (Memorial Day saw a solemn dog overlooking a field of poppies). Homeward Pet is not the only organization generously bestowed her time: her artistic talents and penchant for pantomiming serve her well while she teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) classes.
Though one word for Karen is animated, another—maybe even more appropriate—is animating. While talking with Karen, you get the sense that she truly loves what she does, and the spirit is delightfully contagious. When asked why she volunteers, she says, “You know all these dogs are getting second homes. Even when they’re barking their little heads off, you feel so good when they look at you and you can just feel the hearts floating up at you.” Some days are harder than others, but her network of Homeward Pet friends keeps her energy up on the taxing days.
As a veteran volunteer, what does she want potential and current volunteers to know? “Dogs are easier to draw than pretzels,” she jokes, sketching in an embellishment to her “Dach”-tokberfest dachshund. “And I can’t imagine Tuesdays without Homeward Pet.”
Learn more about volunteering with us and get a chance to see some of Karen’s drawings in person by visiting our shelter!