In the dark hours of the morning, OHS volunteer Margaret Spear is already hard at work.
With more than 2,500 regular program volunteers at the Oregon Humane Society, it’s not unusual to see dozens of individuals in teal aprons around the shelter on any given day. They serve in a variety of roles: walking dogs, cleaning kennels, comforting cats, working in the small animal room, assisting adopters and helping in the medical center.
In the dark hours of the early morning, volunteer Margaret Spear quietly begins her work with a focus and determination that reflects her dedication to the underdog. She cares for some of the most challenging dogs at OHS. The large, strong, energetic canines who have never received the training they need are the ones with whom Margaret instantly connects.
Ten years ago, Margaret began volunteering at OHS after suffering the sudden and crushing loss of her beloved dog. She channeled her grief into a desire to make life better for homeless pets. She walked dogs, took them running and helped with the Second Chance program. But it was the time she spent working in-depth with individual dogs where she really found her place.
Through her calm, straight-forward approach, Margaret is able to help the rowdiest dogs release their excess energy, exercise their brain, and learn to walk on a leash which ultimately helps them find a home quicker. This isn’t a part-time project for Margaret. She spends hours with the dogs every day, guiding their transformation. At 6 a.m., seven days a week, Margaret can be found in Manners Hall at OHS with one of her canine partners. “When you come every day, you get into a rhythm,” says Margaret. “I can’t just lie in bed in the morning. I have to come in.”
It can be quite a workout working with large, energetic dogs, even for the most physically fit person. At 68 years of age, Margaret is also redefining what it means to be active during retirement.
While she notes that she’s been blessed with good genetics, Margaret loves to keep moving. “I’ve always tried to figure out what to do outdoors instead of staying home and cleaning,” she jokes.
Margaret doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. Her dedication to the dogs at OHS is unwavering. “The more you put into this work, the more you get out of it,” she says. “It’s very rewarding to see how much better it can be for these dogs.”