In December of 2006 I emailed Liz Newton for the first time. I had read a story about her and BRAT in a local newspaper and being the new owner of a Basenji, I was compelled to contact her. I started my volunteering ways by sending a few shelter letters out. For the cost of a few stamps, I was in the volunteering business while I learned about my new Basenji. That first week, Gizmo ate a roll of stamps, five letters, and most of a box of printer paper. We were off to a roaring start. I calmly explained to my new paper shredder that I was trying to keep dogs like him from ending up in bad company. I believe his response was to raise an eyebrow and trot off with my shelter addresses, but I've repressed that particular memory.
Once I figured out how to keep the paper goods away from the Basenji, things got easier. I just had to fill in a couple blanks, print, send. Viola! I was ready for bigger things! My next project? A BUR run. The Basenji Underground Railroad, a chance to see another Basenji in person. I was positively giddy. I drove to Liz's house, and there they were, a billion Basenji's. Ok, ok, not a billion but darn close. Liz has 2 of her own, plus the ever fabulous Marley the poodle, and she was housing a metric poo ton of Basenji pups and a couple of Mama's that needed movin'. I was in Basenji wrinkle heaven, the cuteness factor was OFF the charts my friends.
My job? Drive. Simple as that. Me, my mom, and Mapquest made a relatively short venture with the cutest cargo ever. I met up with another volunteer about 3 hours from home, said goodbye to the babies and Mama, and headed for the mall. What? You didn't think I'd drive three hours from home and not shop, did you? Since my first BUR, I've done many more. I've also screened and currently foster and coordinate, but those are stories for another day.
I promise you that the feeling you get the first time you hand off a B to it's new owner(s), or pass a passel of puppies off to the next BRAT BUR volunteer, will make your heart happy. So, if you've ever asked yourself "How can I help?", the answer is start small and enjoy. Contact your closest district coordinator and offer your services. Send shelter letters, drive an hour or two, screen a new applicant. Anyone can do these things and the more of us that are involved, the easier it becomes, the smoother it goes, and more Basenji's find forever homes.