Volunteer Spotlight: Connie

Today’s Volunteer Spotlight is all about Connie, who joined PAWS NY specifically as a foster volunteer in November 2021. She has been a long-term foster for Sonny, who is part of our Preserving Families in Times of Crisis program, which is funded by PetSmart Charities, and we’re so grateful for her patience and dedication working with a special-needs pup. 

“Lessening someone else’s stress by volunteering is a small gesture that hopefully goes a long way,” Connie says. Read her full Q&A below to learn more about the adventures she’s had with Sonny and what she likes to do in her free time!

Connie Volunteer Spotlight - A woman with dark hair and sunglasses makes a kissy face at the camera, while a dog with black curly fur leans up to kiss her face. They are outside in a grassy field with a lightly cloudy sky.

Connie and Sonny

How did you hear about PAWS NY? 

A colleague posted about fostering for PAWS NY, so I applied, as I figured that I should get involved in some kind of community activity. (The pandemic brought out my inner homebody, maybe a little too much!)

Why are you passionate about PAWS and our mission of helping people by helping pets? 

Though I am new to PAWS, I support their mission as I’d imagine that worrying about your pet’s well-being while juggling your own needs can be overwhelming. Lessening someone else’s stress by volunteering is a small gesture that hopefully goes a long way.

Do you have pets of your own? Or have you in the past? Tell us about them!

No pets right now—I had a dog growing up, and I took care of a lot of his needs in the last few years of his life, as my parents took care of the hard stuff when I was younger (he lived until age 15!). Seeing my dog enjoy his golden years, despite his health issues, motivated me to help out another senior dog in the future.

What do you do as a PAWS NY volunteer? Which clients & pets do you help?  

As a volunteer, I have been long-term fostering an 11-year-old special needs dog named Sonny. I haven’t had the chance to meet Sonny’s guardian due to their extenuating circumstances, though I’m sure they have some great stories to tell about him. I’ve also kept in contact with his previous foster, who has been really helpful in giving me tips for Sonny’s care.

A black dog looks up at the camera with his tongue out. He's on a leash / harness with a light grey sweater on.

Sonny out for a walk

What is your favorite part about volunteering? Do you have any favorite memories?

My favorite part about volunteering is seeing Sonny slowly grow more confident and curious, as he is very anxious and shakes whenever he goes somewhere new. To see him go from shaking to curling up and relaxing is a rewarding process that requires patience. 

Initially, I was nervous about how I’d manage this, along with his mobility issues and his stroller, as I tend to be a bit of a worrier myself. However, seeing Sonny handle car drives, the vet, the groomer, new friends, and new places (given what he has gone through recently) reminds me of how resilient animals can be. I am also grateful for the patience and care that my friends, their pets, and my family have shown Sonny. My other favorite part is his gait—we call it his ‘trot’. That, and how he stomps his feet when he gets excited for walks or treats.

Where are you from? Where in the city do you live now?

From NJ and now live in Brooklyn.

Connie Volunteer Spotlight - A woman with dark hair pulled back and a navy blue face mask, sits with two dogs: one black looking off to the right, and one white, looking at the camera. She holds the black dog, while petting the head of the white dog.

Connie with Sonny and another pup

What do you do for work? What brought you / keeps you in NYC?

I am an editor working in healthcare/pharmaceuticals. Work brought me to NYC, and I stay for the friends, family, and well, work!

What do you like to do in your spare time (besides volunteer with PAWS NY)?

Snowboarding, hanging out in the park, watching documentaries, writing to-do lists.

Share 1-3 fun facts about yourself!

I’ve kept some form of a journal, written or digital, since elementary school. It’s sort of surreal to read your random thoughts from decades ago!

Thanks so much to Connie for her support and dedication! If you’d like to volunteer for PAWS NY, sign up for an orientation now.