UW Today

October 26, 2011

CFD Volunteer: Adopting retired racing dogs gives staffer unexpected pleasure

News and Information

Editor’s note: The 2011 Combined Fund Drive campaign runs Oct. 12 through Dec. 2. During that time, UW Today will write about various agencies among the 2,800 supported by the CFD, or UW employees who help or support these organizations.

Name, UW Job: Sara Markham Voogt, IT project specialist, Capital Projects Office.

Volunteer activity: Volunteer and associate member at Greyhound Pets, Inc., based in Woodinville, Wash.

Organization’s mission: Greyhound Pets, Inc. has placed over 5,200 retired racing greyhounds in homes throughout the Pacific Northwest and Southwestern Canada. Greyhound Pets, Inc. is a section 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization supported entirely by donations.  The only paid staff  are the part-time employees who feed and look after the dogs and keep the kennel clean. All other work is done by volunteers.

How long a volunteer for this agency: I adopted my hounds in 2006, and have been an active volunteer since 2008.

Upper: Sara Markham Voogt with her 8-year-old greyhound, Zelda. Below, at left is Monty, who is 7 years old, both adopted from Greyhound Pets Inc., where she volunteers.

Upper: Sara Markham Voogt with her 8-year-old greyhound, Zelda. Below, at left is Monty, who is 7 years old, both adopted from Greyhound Pets Inc., where she volunteers.

Why these activities? I think that volunteering to support any worthy cause can be immensely satisfying, and I understand that there are countless worthy causes to consider.  Working with animals is sort of an introverts dream.  I am not especially comfortable around people, and yet I have the need to interact positively with other living creatures. Beautiful and sensitive dogs (arent they all?) really fill that niche for me. The benefits of a human/canine relationship can be immeasurable.  With regard to the two hounds at my house, I gave them a home that they needed, and they gave me the opportunity to become a more sensitive, responsible, and well-balanced person. They have given far more to me than I will ever be able to give to them.

Satisfaction in volunteering: I used to contemplate volunteering for any number of causes, and would become easily overwhelmed at the prospect of how much need there is in the world.  In the past I volunteered to assist at events for other organizations that I support and found that I am not at all cut out for large crowds, no matter how worthy the cause that brings them together. My introduction to GPI helped me to find some little corner to peel back — a way into helping others that felt both necessary and feasible for me.

Adopting Monty (full name: Monty Python van Gogh) and Zelda (Zelda Mae Fitzgerald) was and continues to be a life-changing experience. If I can do anything at all to give other hounds and people the opportunity to experience that kind of satisfaction or fulfillment, then I am more than happy to help.

What was it like adopting two greyhounds from Greyhound Pets Inc.? It was wonderful. I went into the process hoping to come away with two ex-racers in need of a sofa. I came away with two ex-racers, a few lifelong friends, and a consistent sense of purpose that was sorely lacking in my life.

The people at GPI are tremendously gifted in guiding new adopters through the process, and they are always available to offer advice and support to anyone who needs it.