Companions 
to Our 
Furry 
Friends 2

It’s remarkable to know that our community has played an enormous role in the Humane Society of Western Montana’s 98% adoption rate, isn’t it? All across our city there are bellies being rubbed, dogs taking their new owners on hikes, and felines burrowing into the necks of their fur-ever family members. It’s a dutiful place of selfless, all-enduring love that we just needed to know more about so we asked volunteers, Jane Sparks and Allison Weston, a few questions about their experience volunteering at the Humane Society of Western Montana.

Jane Sparks

Why do you volunteer with animals?

To honor the animals and to let them know they are “seen” for who they are. I have completed the three levels of Reiki, and this past winter was certified as a Teacher for Animal Reiki through SARA (Shelter Animal Reiki Association).

Oh, how interesting! What exactly are the benefits of Reiki?

Where to begin! It can maintain health and well-being on physical, mental, and emotional levels. It can induce deep relaxation and stress relief—of major importance for shelter animals!; accelerate healing and recovery, illness or injury; help reduce pain and inflammation; help reduce behavior problems and aggression; complement conventional and alternative therapies as well as training; and lessen the side effects of medical diagnoses or treatments.

Do you have any pets at home? If so, tell us about them.

I have one cat at this time, Genki, which means “happy” in Japanese who will be 9 this summer. I rescued her and her brother, Neko, which means “cat” in Japanese, as feral kittens when they were four weeks old and hand-raised them.

It’s said that people look (and sometimes act) like their pets. How does your furry friend resemble you?

I don’t think I look anything like her! However, personality wise, she and I are both very intuitive and are teachers.

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at the shelter?

Once, while working on one of the large mixed breed dogs, I was sitting on the floor with my legs outstretched. He decided that he wanted to sit in my lap and did so. He remained there for quite some time. This is not too unusual when sharing Reiki with animals. I recently had a miniature donkey sit in my lap! It is just a little awkward at times depending on the animal’s size!

For someone considering volunteering at the Humane Society of Western Montana, what advice do you have for them?

Come with an open heart and compassion, not pity or anger.

Allison Weston

Why do you volunteer with animals?

Short answer: I like animals more than people! Animals don’t have an agenda. They appreciate the simple things in life and don’t ask for much in return. The companionship they provide far outweighs any financial or emotional cost.

Do you have any pets at home? If so, tell us about them.

I have a dog, adopted from the HSWM in 2011. His name is Anakin. Yep, as in Anakin Skywalker. He’s a 5-year-old Lab mix and my best buddy. He loves pretty much everything, with the exception of fireworks and thunder. Our favorite activities to do together, like most Western Montanans, are hiking, camping, and fishing.

It’s said that people look (and sometimes act) like their pets. How does your dog resemble you?

My first dog was an Australian Shepherd named Sydney. He and I were very much alike: both mellow and appreciated a larger than normal personal space. My current dog still is a little goofy at age 5, which I don’t consider myself to be.

What is the funniest thing that’s happened at the shelter?

I was walking “Deke,” a Lab/Chesapeake mix, one really hot day near a backwater slough by the river. To say he loves water is quite possibly the biggest understatement ever spoken. I was wearing Chaco’s and willing to go in myself but didn’t account for his zeal or quickness. I was waist deep before I knew it and had a very happy dog swimming circles around me.

You are an Advanced EMT. Is there any crossover between these two parts of your life?

Thankfully, no, I haven’t had to provide medical attention to any animals while working or volunteering. As far as any cross-over between my job and my free time, the more I “work” with people, the more I enjoy volunteering with animals.

For someone considering volunteering at the Humane Society of Western Montana, what advice do you have for them?

Do it! It’s extremely rewarding.