New Best Friend

3 Oct

Meet Wesley the cow (Sorry, Marcy!).


This week’s challenge was to volunteer.  And I chose to spend this morning at Sunrise Sanctuary, an animal sanctuary just outside of Dublin (a suburb of Columbus).

Let me just be a little honest before I tell you about my experience.  I was not in the mood to get out of bed this morning at 7:30, so that I could leave for the sanctuary at 8:00am.  Neither was Dan.  Our new neighbors had a party last night and I was woken up on and off by cheers of “USA! USA!” (I’m serious) until about 4:00am.  I’m really proud of myself for not banging on the wall or, you know, hurting someone.  Anyway, that being said, we were both tired and not really in the mood to drive almost an hour to do something we didn’t technically have to do.

I had been in contact with Mindy, the owner, this week and she said that Sunday would be a good day to come.  They have two regular volunteers on Sunday and she said that we could work with them to feed and groom the animals and do whatever else needed to be done.  We got there and were greeted by an enormous pit bull at the gate, wagging his tail like crazy.  An older woman with gray hair came out to greet us.  Her name is Carol and she made us feel right at home, offering us coffee, showing us around and letting us know that Chance (the pit bull) was harmless.  “He’s just a big moose.”  She led us past the ducks, cats, and dogs wondering around in the enormous front yard, toward the barns in the back.  We went through a gate and met Mindy, who was out feeding the large animals.  Mindy greeted us with a smile and we all went inside for a minute while we waited for the regular volunteers, Steve and Cammy.  Carol showed us the bunnies and the chinchillas.  They have their own large cages downstairs in the house and they were all really cute.  When Steve and Cammy arrived, they took us out back to the barns to feed and water the animals.  There we met Roscoe the donkey who was seemed shy, but who ended up appearing every time I turned around.  Including the time I turned around when Steve was trying to feed the peacocks and Roscoe squeezed into the pen to help himself to some food that wasn’t his.  We shoved him out and he sulked outside of the barn, looking guilty, his face still covered with brown pebbly food.  Then, we met Wesley the cow, who startled me by storming into the barn as soon as Cammy opened the turkey food bin.  He also helped himself to a whole bunch of food that wasn’t his.  Once we got his head out and shut the bin, though, he was the calmest, sweetest thing.  He was like a gigantic, slow-moving dog and he kept wanting me to pet him and brush him.  If I stopped, he would put nudge my arm with his head.  He also kept cuddling into my body when I was brushing him (see picture above).  I had no idea cows were affectionate like that.  I am so in love with that little big guy.  It made me sad to hear the story of how he came to the sanctuary.  He was on an Amish dairy farm and he was tied to a pole, left to starve, because dairy farms don’t have any use for the male calves.  Mindy found him and asked if she could take him.  Poor Wesley.

Feeding the ducks

We moved around the sanctuary quite a bit, fed the ducks at the pond, and saw several other large animals, sheep, horses, goats, and pigs (The pigs were really cute, but also really shy, so they didn’t want to come out too much).  Then, Cammy and I went inside to do some work and Dan and Steve stayed out to help work on Carol’s van.  I cleaned out six kitty litter bins and then swept up around the house.  Mindy and Carol ran out to get some doughnuts and when they got back, we all stood around with coffee and chatted.  I found out that Carol is from western Tennessee and Mindy has a full time job.  Can you believe that this woman, who runs an animal sanctuary with over 80 animals also has to go to work Monday through Friday, 8-5?  I think she’s a saint, but you can tell that she really loves what she does and she really loves those animals.  That being said, if you have a few extra pennies, they could certainly use the donations, which are easy to make on their website.  Mindy told me that she is in desperate need of a four wheel drive vehicle to transport feed around the sanctuary.  If anyone has any leads on that in the Columbus area, please leave me a comment!

Now, on volunteering.  It felt really great to help out at the sanctuary because there was so much to do and Mindy certainly couldn’t do it all.  It was also really fun to be around the animals (Dan loved that part), especially these animals that, for one reason or another, were neglected or unwanted.  And, even though it was chilly out today, it felt nice to be outside in the fresh air, doing some work (it kind of made it doubly nice that I was doing work that I didn’t have to do, but that I did because I wanted to and there was a need).  It was a little tough to give up my time this morning, knowing in the back of my mind that I could be spending this time studying for my exam defense.  But we were done by noon, and odds are (if I’m being really honest with myself) that I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to studying until the afternoon anyway.  This whole experience left me with two takeaways, 1) I have more compassion for animals and I’m even more dedicated to my veggie lifestyle and 2) I want to volunteer more in general.  It would be tough to volunteer at the sanctuary often because it’s an hour away, but I’d like to help them out with donations, attend some of their fund raising events and visit when I can, and I’d also like to see where I could volunteer here in Columbus.  If you have suggestions, let me know and if you are interested in volunteering at Sunrise Sanctuary, click here, and say, “Hi!” to Wesley for me!

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