Meet Giselle – a NAWT Watford volunteer

Meet Giselle

This Volunteers’ Week, we want to spend some time with the incredible people who volunteer for us.

Here at our NAWT Hertfordshire centre, we were delighted to welcome back Giselle, a volunteer who used to do dog walking for us a few years ago. Due to health reasons, she can’t work with dogs in the same way that she used to, but she still wanted to come back and help any way she can. She reapplied and completed the training under the new volunteer process. She now likes to focus on areas such as doing the laundry and kitchen support, with the occasional dog walk.

We caught up with Giselle to find out why she wanted to come back, and what an average day looks like at NAWT for her.

1. Tell us about yourself.

    I’m Giselle and I’ve lived in and around Watford my whole life. I’ve worked in financial services throughout my career, but I’ve recently stopped work to see if I’m ready to retire! So far, I’ve done some renovation work on my house which I’d been putting off. I have completed a course that qualifies me in Internal Audit (just in case I’ve not retired) and I’m now studying for a Level 4 Diploma in canine behaviour with the British College of Canine Studies. Retirement is busier than I thought!!!

    2. What made you first decide to sign up to volunteer for NAWT?

      I’ve always owned dogs. My last dog was Monnie, a rescue Staffy from Battersea, and although she was meant to be 2 or 3 years old when I got her, she was with me for 17 years. By the time she passed I was working long hours and starting to travel for work too, so I decided to volunteer to get a regular dose of dog therapy. Initially I volunteered for a few years, and then with work commitments followed by some health issues, I felt I needed to stop.

      3. What made you come back and re-apply to volunteer with us?

        Now things are different for me – I’ve got to grips with the health problems and I have more time on my hands now I’m not working. I felt that volunteering again would help towards keeping me active (and so improving my health) and I get a little dog therapy again. Also, I can see some of the learning from the course in the real world!

        4. Tell us about what a day at NAWT looks like for you?

          I’ve become a bit obsessed with doing the laundry!!! I normally do a couple of mornings a week and I tend to help with cleaning a few kennels, the laundry, and some cleaning in the kitchen as well. Between loading the machines, I will walk a dog or two or sit in with one of them. I like to give them some extra company, some brushing, and hide treats for them to look for later.

          Sadly, I’m allergic to most cats so it’s just the dogs for me!

          5. What’s it like working alongside animals?

            Of course they are lovely to spend time with, its relaxing, and good for your health. However, I am also fascinated to see their different characters, habits, and quirks. The more I learn on my course, the more I see a little of what is going on in their minds as well.

            In the past it has been challenging to see some of the dogs overlooked. This can be because of people’s assumptions about them as sometimes they don’t show themselves at their best in the kennels. The plus side is that you get to see them leaving to the good homes they deserve. Sometimes you get to hear how they are getting on, which makes it even more worthwhile.

            I’ve noticed that the dogs are homed faster these days and that makes it a little easier as you don’t get quite so attached to them!

            6. What would you say to someone who is considering volunteering for us?

              Give it a go! There’s structured induction training to make sure you know what to do and are safe. The team are all lovely. There are so many different things that need doing meaning there is a variety of work to choose from once you’re settled.

              If you can’t walk for miles there are enrichment areas where you can spend time with the dogs, and it really helps them to have a change of pace and company. If you’re green fingered there’s gardening, lots of DIY jobs for those that are good at DIY (sadly I’m not!!), and the list goes on!!!

              Importantly, there is nothing to lose from giving it a go, you’ll learn something, and it feels good to give a little back!

              Thank you so much Giselle for not only taking the time to talk to us, but also for all your hard work. Not only are you valued by the staff at our centre, but the dogs too, as you bring some happiness to their lives whilst they wait for their forever homes.

              If you would like to follow in Giselle’s footsteps, then make sure to get in touch with your local centre who will be able to provide you with all the information you need. You can find the details here.