Stop by the kennel early on a Saturday morning and you will find the every other Saturday “Saturday1”morning crew hard at work, feeding, medicating, cleaning the kennel runs and socializing all of the 20 or more WSHS dogs.
It’s a big job, but shift coordinator Melina Puruncajas says they work well as a team and that “Everyone knows their own roles and are always willing to help each other out when things get overwhelming.” Shift mate Kristin Trevino agrees that they are like “a well oiled machine, very efficient.” It helps that the team has been together for some time, with Summer Seligman being one of the newer members of the crew, having started volunteering at the shelter in September of 2016. Melina started in December 2012, and Kristin has been at WSHS for five years. Also on the shift are Malorie Young, Kristin Trevino Policky, Hailey Rathnow, Nikkie Boehm and Jaime and Lucas Martin.
It’s no surprise that, for most of these volunteers, working with the dogs is what they most enjoy about the shift. But Kristin also likes “working with a great group of people” while Summer appreciates “knowing I’m making a difference.” Melina notes that she enjoys working with a lot of different kinds of dogs. She explains, “They all act differently and it causes me to think of new ways to handle them and their needs, which is helpful knowledge for when I become a vet tech.”
All of these animal lovers also have dogs at home. Summer has Nala who they adopted from a shelter when Nala was nine months old. Boomer and Lucy are Kristin’s canine companions, who she describes as “a couple of clowns” who love their walks and playing ball using an automatic fetch machine. Melina shares her home with an 11 year old toy poodle mix and a 14 year old terrier/Chihuahua mix, who she admits “did not like each other at first but now in their old age get along with each other just fine.”
Besides playing with their dogs, other interests for these volunteers are wide-ranging. Summer is interested in environmental studies, and plans on majoring in environmental science after finishing her classes at College of DuPage. Melina is studying to be a veterinary technician, but loves to watch baseball, play video games and go to the movies when she can. Exercising and being outdoors when the weather gets nice is how Kristin relaxes, as well as “playing tennis, reading, going to concerts and watching home improvement shows.”
It is clear that while the volunteers on this shift work hard on behalf of the animals, they also enjoy themselves. They like joking around with each other, and as Melina noted “There have also been several times where more than one volunteer will randomly decide to get donuts for the whole crew as a nice morning surprise and then we are left with two dozen or more donuts to eat while we work.”