For as long as I can remember, I have always been drawn to animals, from gushing over the stray cats that my father used to bring home like some sort of Pied Piper, to having the distinct memory of rushing across the road as a teen to assist a jaywalking turtle. When, in 2014, I was presented with the opportunity to work directly with animals (many of which most people never get the chance to work with), I immediately accepted.
On my very first day volunteering, I was tasked with mucking up after a pair of alpacas, feeding over a dozen chickens, and brushing a big bovine beauty named Annabelle. While it was hard, physical work, it was also heavenly. I was completely in my element, surrounded by over fifty animals of all different shapes, sizes, and species, and learning as much as I could about them.
It’s been years now since my initial dive into the extremely rewarding, and, at times, absolutely devastating (due to sickness and death) world of volunteering with animals, and I still look forward to it just as much as I did in the beginning. Actually, due to social distancing, hunkering down at home, and the upheaval of day-to-day life in response to COVID-19, perhaps I look forward to it even more than usual.
Not only does continuing my weekly volunteer duties give me a sense of normalcy during this very abnormal time, it provides me with a set chunk of time that I get to spend mostly outdoors, being considerably active while performing hands on tasks — and, best of all, I get to be in the company of a menagerie of animals who I love, respect, and have spent the last six years caring for.
The animal sanctuary also holds an extra special spot in my heart because it is there, right inside of the main goat barn, that I met my now fiancé. While getting engaged in the midst of a global health and economic crisis (the extent to which was unknown to us at the time) has been interesting and frightening to say the least, I revel in this extra time that we get to spend together, not just at home, but at the animal sanctuary where we first crossed paths, too.
While I do not know what life has in store for all of us, I do know that I will continue spending part of my life working with animals and trying my best to make a difference in their lives — rain or shine, winter or summer, pandemic or not.
I know for a fact that these animals have made, and continue to make, all the difference in mine.
This post was contributed by Kelly Tenny, Library Assistant, Bay Shore