Judy H., our Volunteer of the Month, has always loved animals.

Originally from Warren, Michigan, she’s owned dogs, cats and even some rabbits here and there. In fact, Judy wanted to be a veterinarian. But “Science was not an easy subject for me so I gave up on that dream in high school,” she remarks jovially, and since then, “I have turned my attention to dogs mostly and have been involved in obedience and training for many years.” Her current pet is a treasured six year-old Golden Retriever named Floyd.

And it is precisely that inherent affinity for dogs that brought Judy to our shelter as a volunteer when she moved to the Villages. “I went to a volunteer orientation meeting and they gave us a tour of their facility and I was very impressed at the cleanliness of the kennel,” Judy explains. “The kennel employees really seem to care for the dogs.” Judy is also involved with many of our shelter’s off-site activities aimed at increasing awareness and raising donations. And what she is most continually struck by is the amazingly quick turn-around for adoptions at our shelter. “And how all of the animals are treated while they are there!”

Yep, that’s right. Plenty of love and compassion going on here! When asked for some inspiration we can share with potential volunteers, the words come easily to Judy in describing why it’s imperative to step up and help animals in need. “I tell people that, we weren’t able to change their past, but we can give them a ‘happily ever after.’ That it is the best feeling in the world. People tell me they’re afraid of getting involved at the shelter because it will hurt their heart.” No doubt, it certainly is hard at times for our staff and volunteers. Each and every one of us has developed relationships with the dogs and cats being cared for. And sometimes it does hurt our hearts when we have to wave goodbye to our furry friends as they prance off to their furever homes. But as Judy explains, that’s a sadness worth bearing for the greater good. “Yes, I have become attached to several of the dogs at the shelter, and yes, I cry when they get adopted. But those are definitely tears of joy!”

In fact, Judy has been such an impactful advocate of our shelter that she’s even managed to inspire some of her neighbors to get involved as volunteers. And that makes all the difference to our rescued animals in need. The more helping hands we have in the mix, more ‘happily ever afters’ we get to gift these animals in such dire need of a second chance.

So, as we bounce with leprechaun-like glee into the month that celebrates the proverbial pots of gold at the end of those proverbial rainbows in the sky, we thank Judy for turning her love of animals into a happy ending for so many. She may not have excelled at Science class in school, but she sure gets an A+ in Volunteering!