Monthly Volunteer Profile: Chris Reeves
A group of volunteers founded the Winnipeg Humane Society in 1894 and are vital to our success today! With the help of volunteers, we can provide care, love and attention to our four (and sometimes two) legged friends until they find their forever homes. The MVP (Monthly Volunteer Profile) will recognize the work and get to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs will receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!
Is there a volunteer you’d like to nominate to be MVP? E-mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell us why you think they should be an MVP!
MVP is a volunteer-driven project with articles by Brian Kozak and pictures by Jim Harvey.
MVP: Chris Reeves
Chris Reeves took the skills and caring she’d developed during a 40-year nursing career and put them to good use as a volunteer animal care attendant with the Winnipeg Humane Society.
“I consider myself very lucky to be looking after the puppies before they’re put up for adoption,” she explained. “I feel extremely fortunate to be behind the scenes and able to do the hands-on puppy care.
“I was amazed at the amount of work the staff and volunteers do. They are so particular with their cleanliness and their standards. “ She pointed out that each puppy is tended to up to four times a day. In the morning, each dog has its kennel cleaned including getting its floor scrubbed, fresh shredded newspaper put on the floor, fresh toys brought in and the food and water dishes are cleaned and re-filled.
It’s a time-consuming process but one that is necessary to make sure the conditions are as sanitary as possible for the young pups. “It boggled my mind when I was first trained,” Chris pointed out. “I take the puppy from its kennel and put it into a holding kennel. Then I clean and re-line its kennel, re-fill the food and toys and replace the toys. Then the puppy is brought back to its kennel and we clean the holding kennel.“ And then there’s always garbage to haul and floors to scrub.
But the spin-off bonus Chris gets from this position two mornings a week is the cuddling and affection from the puppies. “I think it’s good for these dogs to be in a space with a person who’s occupied doing something,” she said. “It’s a snapshot of what life at home could be like once they are adopted. You know, seeing someone sweeping or hauling garbage.
“I like the physical aspect of the job. My children tease me because when I came here to volunteer I told Kelle (the manager of Volunteer Services) I liked cleaning because I figured that would put me in good standing,” she laughed. “My children thought that was a funny thing to do, but if I didn’t like cleaning I wouldn’t necessarily be happy with that job.”
It’s the job that Chris has had – and enjoyed immensely – since the spring of 2010 after retiring from Deer Lodge Centre in December 2009. And there are some similarities between her nursing duties and her volunteer work: you have to be caring, the activities are hands-on and observations skills are needed.
“I like this job,” she said. “It can be quite physical because you’re down on your knees scrubbing and sometimes a four-month-old puppy that weighs 20 pounds can be an armful. So as long as I can physically do this job I will enjoy it very much. I enjoy having a commitment and having a sense of being responsible for something, and that’s my commitment here.”
Her dedication to the job and her care for the puppies has not gone un-noticed: “Chris does a fantastic job cleaning, but what I find really touching is the love that she brings to the position,” said Catherine McMillian, Manager, Behaviour & Animal Intake. “I often walk by the puppy rooms and see Chris cuddling and talking to the puppies. Chris with her positive and caring attitude brings a little sunshine to the puppies’ lives in what can often be a stressful place.”
Chris was drawn to volunteering at the WHS because she had a dog growing up and her father was an active Humane Society supporter. She and her husband have a northern rescue dog from the WHS. She enjoys all animals, but a slight allergy to cats brought her closer to dogs.
She encourages more people to volunteer. “A lot of people don’t recognize the value of volunteering, to the individual and the organization.
“I have a strong admiration for the people in the back,” she said. “They are always caring and extremely dedicated to the animals.
“They are so gracious with the animals. And loyal – the staff that trained me when I first started are still here and you don’t see a lot of that today. Bravo to them.”