Donald Leon Farrow began helping animals in 2006 when he joined local dog rescue organizations in Michigan and Chicago. He noticed that regardless of the level of urgency in assisting the animals, the volunteers were very organized in their work, and tending to what needed to be done by observation and with little or no conversation. Although the work was at times exhausting says Donald Leon Farrow, the volunteers left for home with a sense of calm and humanitarian accomplishment. This says Donald, is comparable to the calm and often voiceless acceptance and companionship that we receive from our animal friends.
Below, Donald Leon Farrow, continuing his volunteer efforts, answers questions about work with animals that enriches the lives of volunteers as they improve the lives of the animals.
Q: What led to your thoughts on this?
Donald Leon Farrow: You would think that I would leave and arrive home miserable given some of the situations that I and the other volunteers encounter. At least for my group – that’s not the case. We have a true sense of accomplishment and its relaxing. Sometimes we go to dinner as a group, and no one is complaining about life. We are talking about the wonderful animals and everyone is relaxed. Then I return home to my family and dogs, and the dogs are just there to be with you as you sit and read. Its truly relaxing.
Q: But life is full of stress isn’t it?
Donald Leon Farrow: Of course, it is – but our mental state is an influence. Our volunteering efforts with these animals is a quiet activity where at least for part of the day, we are focused on helping animals in trouble who cannot fend for themselves. It really takes you away from concerns of yourself for awhile – I think it’s healthy.
Q: And at home?
Donald Leon Farrow: You get home and you’re a bit tired sometimes, and other times exhausted. You’re aware that you made a difference, and there are your animals looking for you which is even more relaxing. I imagine the process is easier when you’re helping animals. They are more predictable or less complex in their behavior than people – and they don’t talk.
Q: What was the most difficult part of helping these animals?
Donald Leon Farrow: You’re up close dealing with the fallout of indifferent, ignorant and cruel people – it’s just bottomless. You get a better understanding of the inhumanity in the world. Neglect and cruelty to animals are a small microcosm of the evil in this world across all socio-economic levels.
Q: How did you put your creativity to work in helping the animals?
Donald Leon Farrow: The shelters that I work with partner with local veterinarians who volunteer services. We also for example accept reject blankets from charity donation centers and other sources. We clean these and make dog beds. So, most of our creativity is in getting our communities involved in donating items that we can use for the animals.
Q: Are the communities responsive?
Donald Leon Farrow: Most certainly. People want to help the animals and thank us for asking. They are glad that the rescue exists. Many people see stray animals but don’t believe they have room in their lives to help. We give them the opportunity.
Q: How do you handle aggressive animals?
Donald Leon Farrow: I must first state that the animals are made aggressive by their experience with irresponsible people. We have people in our volunteer network who specialize in working these situations. Sometimes we are able to save these types of animal and adopt them out, and sadly sometimes not. But we are still able to shelter and care for them. We also have volunteers – animal whisperers if you will – who visit and care for these animals.
Q: You have animals at home?
Donald Leon Farrow: Yes, two dogs. This I have found to be particularly relaxing from the simple routine of caring for them, to the quiet nature of our relationships – we don’t need to say much if anything – it’s enough to just be genuine friends with each other. It gives me good comfort to know that I am able to give them wonderful lives.
Q: Any recommendations for keeping animals healthy?
Donald Leon Farrow: Definitely spay and neuter your dogs. Definitely have their teeth professionally cleaned at least once per year. No bones or rawhide, and purchase the best food. Science Diet is good, Blue Wellness and Natural Balance are top-of-the-line brands. Always read the label of any food and the primary contents should be meat.
Q: Your final comments on relaxing with Animals?
Donald Leon Farrow: We will have a truly humane society, when we value the quality of life for the most discarded, helpless and unprotected creatures walking among us – these are animals. Once we heed the call of humanity at this level – we will care for each other.
Donald Leon Farrow has worked with animal rescue for many years. As a leader in the architectural profession, Donald Leon Farrow believes that professional success should be balanced with community involvement. For many years, Donald Leon Farrow has served as an animal rescue volunteer and fundraiser for local and national animal welfare Societies respectively.