july-vol Who else could we recognize during July’s “Dog Days of Summer” but this creatively hot professional writer Alison Grambs who has been using her wit to write our volunteer of the month profiles? So we let Alison “off leash” for her own write up this month!

“Here’s the thing about volunteering at the HS/SPCA of Sumter County. It can change your life in a way you never imagined. 

Two years ago, my husband and I, recent transplants from New York, lost our beloved Yorkie to an unexpected illness. Our hearts were broken. We’d always had a dog in our family, and the void was palpable. But eventually grief becomes too heavy a weight to carry around; and the time comes to turn mourning into action. So, we signed up to volunteer at the shelter, visiting on occasion to exercise the dogs and play with them.  

As it happened, one of the first dogs we met was Zelda, a sweet-mannered blond Beagle about six years old. I sent a picture of her to my friend, Julie, in New York. She and her husband, Denny, devotedly adopt countless dogs in need from the local shelters up North and had, coincidentally, just lost their beloved Beagle, Beau. That photo was all it took. Within weeks, Zelda was in the loving arms of my loving friends, enjoying a second chance at life with her new family in the Big Apple.  

july-vol2Meanwhile, my husband and I couldn’t get our minds off an adorable puppy who arrived at the shelter about the same time we started volunteering. Thanks to Carol, the exemplary Kennel Manager with a heart of gold, little Kyle, who had been found wandering the streets by Animal Services and remained unclaimed, was given safe haven at the shelter just in the nick of time. Carol saved this puppy’s life. And for us, it was love at first sight. There was something about Kyle’s playful and comical spirit—those fluffy ears and that happy-go-lucky romp— that reminded us of our Yorkie.  

A year and a half later, our hearts are swollen with love for this rescue puppy who changed our lives by bouncing into our laps at the shelter that day. We ended up adopting Kyle, and our family feels whole again. In honor of the shelter that saved his life, we changed his name to “Sumter”. Whether he’s chasing squirrels up trees around Sumter County, strolling up and down the chaotic streets of New York City, or exchanging funny selfies with Zelda, Sumter seems to understand how lucky he is to be alive. We can all learn from the joie de vivre these rescue dogs live by! 

We had such a great experience with HS/SPCA, and I am forever grateful for the day we began volunteering. Two dogs in need found their forever homes, and four humans found comfort just when they needed it most. That’s what the HS/SPCA does- it keeps the Circle of Life going so beautifully. I encourage everyone to get involved. Whether you have a lot of time, or just a little… whether you are interested in helping out with local adoption events, meet-and-greets, donation drives, public relations efforts, or just spending time with the dogs and cats for daily play time… volunteering at the HS/SPCA, working with its stellar staff, Board members and volunteers in little ways, is an immensely rewarding experience. 

And hey, you never know: you might just meet your new best friend!”