It's not every day you get to help reunite someone's family member, or is it? My friend posted her missing dog on Lost Dogs of Illinois (LDI) two years ago, and was given tips on finding her dog, a flyer to print, and the comfort of knowing the word was out there that "Buster" was lost. Somebody saw the flyer and contacted her about her dog a couple days later; unfortunately, it was not good news as the dog's collar was found in a wooded area, along with some remains. But, this got me looking at the LDI page and although I thought I may be too sensitive to post lost dogs, I paid attention to all the good that came from it. I came across the post LDI put out about needing volunteers for Facebook administrators and I decided to give it a try. I wanted to help get lost or found dogs reunited with their owners. I trained directly with the director, and her passion and pride came pouring through. Thinking I was going to simply post dogs on a Facebook page, I was instantly impressed with all that came with this job: the organization system to keep track of lost and found dogs, the kindness and dedication of the volunteers, and how incredibly grateful people are to have personal attention when they lose or find a dog. I realized that by volunteering for LDI, I would be answering private messages, giving advice or tips, and texting owners that their dog is posted. Equally amazing is the number of "outsiders" that check the pages and are eager to help.

The joy felt when dogs are back home safely gives me great pleasure, and I find myself checking on dogs I have posted throughout the day to see if they have made it home safely. What makes this so special is that all the volunteers feel this way each and every time a family gets their lost dog home, and that we work as a team. Knowing that LDI charges nothing for their services makes volunteering even more rewarding. Any donations received are used in aiding underserved communities with free or reduced pet clinics where dogs, and even some cats, get vaccinated, microchipped, collars, leashes, and an engraved tag with the pet's name and family phone number. Having helped at a few of these clinics, the gratitude and smiles of these pets owners when receiving these services make it all worthwhile. The thrill of getting to see how much love these pet owners have for their dogs is incredible. Every day brings with it a new group of people panicked about their missing dog, or a found dog that needs shelter until their owner is found. Being able to provide resources to these people is tremendous, and, of course, also helps reduce the number of dogs in shelters/animal control. Being a part of the LDI team and watching communities join together to help reunite someone's family member is the most rewarding part of my day!