East Greenbush, NY
A special young lady arrived at Dog House Adoptions’ volunteer orientation on a crisp sunny morning in April 2012. Gabrielle Gerber, then a junior at Columbia High School, made a commitment that day to positively impact the lives of our community’s orphaned dogs.
Gabrielle, a name meaning heroine, is truly a hero having worked with many of the 35 dogs placed during our organization’s first year. She also spent time gently acclimating shy puppy mill rescues to kindness.
How does a young girl find inspiration to make such a generous commitment? Gabrielle says she was inspired by her own dog.
I had wanted a dog forever and then in 9th grade my family finally adopted a dog from the shelter. My dog was a rescue dog with separation anxiety, which we had helped her get over. Soon after we adopted my dog, I started training her and taking her to obedience classes and even agility. I realized that working with dogs was something I really enjoyed doing and I wanted to help other dogs like my own.
Gabrielle says she wanted to volunteer “for a very long time” and she knew that dogs specifically had taken hold of her heart. Since spotting a sign at Nassau Veterinary Clinic for Dog House Adoptions’ maiden volunteer orientation, both of Gabrielle’s parents have been supportive of her efforts. Gabrielle says, “My mom has been especially supportive by volunteering with me every time.”
For our part, we simply got lucky. What we had to offer Gabrielle wasn’t anything we had planned for. Allergic to cats and guinea pigs, which shelters sometimes house with dogs, Gabrielle had trouble finding a place to volunteer. “I thought Dog House Adoptions would be perfect because there were only dogs at this adoption center.”
We couldn’t be happier to have had Gabrielle working with us this past year. Since that crisp, sunny morning when we first met, Gabrielle has brought her own sunshine, helping a whole lot of dogs learn to better leash walk, acclimate to strangers, and feel the love they so deserve.
Gabrielle received many gifts from the dogs in return. Her favorite rescues, Blix and Oscar, gave Gabrielle their paws, the bounce in their step, and their greatest trust.
Blix was really timid at first, but then after spending some time with him he really opened up. He was also extremely adorable. I am most happy that Blix and Oscar got homes, Blix seemed like he would’ve been a great family dog. Oscar I remember had some trouble with his legs, so he really looked like he could have used a good home.
The biggest gift Gabrielle received reaches far beyond any single dog’s milestone of success:
What I learned about rescue was that most dogs can be rehabilitated and that they really just need someone to love them. When people think mistreated dogs are messed up forever, it’s really not true because with the right amount of TLC, almost every dog can get back to normal again.”
That knowledge is a gift that will keep on giving, allowing Gabrielle to consider ways to connect with animals in a larger capacity. This driven, compassionate, and smart young woman heads off to college shortly, so I asked if she would continue the work she began. Her response lights a fire in the heart:
I would love to continue volunteering in college, especially with dogs. Volunteering is really rewarding and I would like to keep serving the community, wherever I am.
Volunteering at Dog House Adoptions has influenced my future interests because now after volunteering I have realized that I really might want to pursue a career in political science and advocacy. For one of my classes this year, I wrote a bill for legislation involving animal rights. I learned about a potential career in animal rights would be like, and I would definitely like to pursue that path. Dog House Adoptions definitely made me realize that there are so many problems concerning animals; like people not caring for their pets, and spaying/neutering, that really need to be addressed.
We wish you all the best, Gabrielle. Thank you for making such a dramatic difference for dogs of every shape, size, breed, blend and need! No matter where you go in life or what you do, those around you will be very lucky to know you – humans and dogs like.
The entire Dog House Adoptions team