This is my first #GivingTuesday. Well, my first official one.

Nearly 2 years ago I started volunteering with City Dogs Cleveland. I started volunteering thinking I would spend a couple hours a few times a month at the local City Kennel, a dreary, archaic (to be nice) shelter that is always over flowing with Pit Bulls and Pit Mixes. Little did I know that that kennel would become such a huge part of my life. I started helping out with giving the dogs Kong toys filled with yummy treats once a week, but within a few weeks started training to help at events offsite on the weekends, that led to walking dogs, and then helping to create a running and hiking group etc. I know this sounds a lot like the children's book 'If you give a Mouse a Cookie,' but that's how volunteering with City Dogs went for me.

Currently I'm helping to plan a fundraiser on #GivingTuesday to help increase funds for our Plankton Fund. This fund offers grants to rescues who are suffering from heart worms so that they can get the life saving treatment that they need.

The medical dogs became dear to my heart when I met a boy name Finnegan in kennel #116 last summer. Although his medical issue wasn't heart worms, but a luxating patella, he helped me better understand the dire need to get a dog in need a soft place to heal. Finnegan, Finny, warmed his way into my heart; a goofy 2 year old Shepard/Pit mix, who sat for months with no interest and no one to step up for him. I wished I was in a position to help him out, but my city and housing arrangements wouldn't permit it. Finny was the first dog I gave a bath to who acted like he was at the spa, I took him to a splash pad and he turned into a puppy! When I was able to take him away from the Kennel for the afternoon, he would calm and just seemed so relaxed and thankful. He would soak up all affection from all the people, especially children he met. I made it my mission to just find him a foster, asking everyone at events if they had a spare couch for him to sleep on for just a couple months.

Finally a lovely woman named Mary stepped up to foster him. I went to her home to visit him before he went to his forever home. I will never forget the welcoming he gave me! I gave him a teddy bear that night, he took it with him after he was adopted, and they reported back to his foster mom that he had carried the teddy around and it was his favorite. A recent update on Finny from his adopter just pushes me to want to do more for the kennel's medical needs dogs.

That's why, this coming #GivingTuesday will be my true first. I have signed on to help the planning of this big yearly event because, those updates, the ones from the forever homes, with the dogs healthy, happy, and especially loved, those are what matter. Those updates, they are why I went from volunteering a few times a month, to City Dogs being my passion.