MONTHLY VOLUNTEER PROFILE: Brenda Yaworski
Brenda Yaworski may have only started volunteering as a doggy foster parent for the Winnipeg Humane Society last spring, but it that short time she’s gained a tremendous amount of experience.
She started off with a Doberman that won over her heart – so much so that Brenda’s family and friends had a pool going to see if her first foster would be a foster fail.
That first dog she fostered stayed with Brenda three or four times, so she had him for almost two months. “When they called me the third time, they said ‘You don’t have to take him back. We don’t want you to get too attached to him.’ I thought to myself ‘That’s a little late.’” She laughed and said it’s a good thing her back yard wasn’t a little bigger.
Then she had a mom and eight pups for about eight weeks. “It was a bit trying,” she explained. “When there are so many, it can be a bit demanding. For example, when you want them to get fresh air outside, you must haul them all out and then haul them back in.”
After that, Brenda had another three pups rescued from Northern Manitoba for a few weeks. And now she has jaxx, a Jack Russell cross. “Jaxx has recovered from two broken back legs, but you’d never know,” Brenda added. “He goes and goes.
“He’s definitely an opinionated little puppy,” Brenda laughed. “He’s high-spirited, and thinks he’s the boss, for sure.”
Brenda has learned a lot on the job. A day after getting her, Jaxx started wheezing. “I thought maybe he had something stuck in his throat,” she explained. “Turned out it was kennel cough and we got that fixed up. I looked up some home remedies, and with a little oregano oil, coconut oil and honey we’ve managed to get that out of his system. He’s doing okay – trying to chew on everything.”
Growing up, Brenda’s family had a few dogs. But her dad worked for a national retail chain and was transferred frequently, so having a dog was not practical. As an adult, Brenda’s passions became dogs and horses.
She currently doesn’t have a dog of her own, since her Mr. Magoo passed away a few years ago. Fostering has helped her ‘dog fix’ for now, but she also has a girlfriend who travels frequently, and when she goes away, Brenda gets to take care of Rosie, her friend’s Burmese Mountain dog.
She got her start when a friend of hers at the Humane Society took Brenda to the shelter to speak to the foster department. This friend felt Brenda needed ‘a little something different to fill her time.’ Brenda was hooked.
She recommends fostering, especially for those people who need to deal with an animal fix. But it’s important to make sure that your home is set up for pets. “You must look at your place. For example, my upstairs is flooring and my downstairs is carpeted. Therefore, I keep the dogs upstairs because accidents can happen and flooring is easier to clean up.”
It’s also important to understand and appreciate the differences between dogs and be patient with them. Of the three she took in from up north, one was timid, another was a cuddler and the third was a zoomer who liked to race about. But she loved them all.
Brenda works at home in a contract position in Operational Support for Boeing US. “It’s been an advantage to have me working at home like that,” she pointed out.” You get to have a better idea of what the dogs are made of.
“By observing them so much, you can make sure the report you prepare is thorough and, ultimately, that the dogs can go to the right homes. You like to make sure that the new owners have the information they need.” One of the plusses for her, she said, is that as a single person it’s nice to hear puppies in the house. She enjoys the companionship.
The staff and volunteers (especially the other fosterers) have been very helpful to Brenda as she continues to learn. “If you need help, you can always call the WHS or reach out to another fosterer,” she said. “Staff has been very good and everyone is so supportive.”