Best Friends–New York volunteer extraordinaire, David Haskell, has been an invaluable part of the Best Friends family for more than two years. He recently shared some insight into what led him to Best Friends and what keeps him coming back.
Q. What is your favorite part of volunteering?
A few months ago, I did the Kitty Care training to look in on the cats that aren’t in foster and it was the best decision. I love going to the Petsmart to give every cat some personal attention. Some are very shy and maybe haven’t been socialized much with humans. Some are scared. And some are big bowls of snuggly affection just looking for someone to head butt. Whatever the situation, I feel like I’m making a real impact. I get to know their personalities, take pictures and video that I always hope might lead to an adoption, and make them feel safe and loved. It’s special.
Q. Why did you start working with Best Friends?
I learned about Best Friends in December 2015, about eleven months after my Emily (aka Little Bug, Nugget, Buggy) passed away too soon. My longtime best friend and roommate, Sarah, who adopted Emily before we ever met, saw an ad in the paper for a Super Adoption event and suggested that I go. I was really overcome emotionally by the experience and realized that I wasn’t ready to adopt yet. But I loved the event and appreciated the compassion shown by the Best Friends staff and volunteers to every person and every animal. I decided then to volunteer. This is what I do to honor Buggy’s memory.
Q. Do you have any pets of your own at home?
Not now, but it’s really only a matter of time. And when I do, I’m going to find a shy cat that doesn’t attract the most attention at the events and enjoy discovering all of the ways that she or he is quirky and special.
Q. What do you do for fun outside of volunteering?
I stay active in my community. For years, I refereed and umpired youth sports all over the Bronx, where I live, and in Manhattan. Recently, I turned much of my attention to civic participation, trying to make the political process more democratic.
Q. Outside of cats and dogs, what is your favorite animal and why?
That’s a really hard question but I’m going to have to go with the raccoon. They’re really cute and mischievous and absolutely brilliant. Would I want to meet one in a dark alley? Not really. But they are just wonderful from a distance.
Q. What is your favorite holiday?
Ever since I moved to New York, it’s definitely Christmas. I love that the smell of vanilla from the street carts selling roasted nuts fills the crisp air and that the streets are filled with lights. And it’s hard to beat my annual tradition, preparing a homemade menu and watching the Muppet Family Christmas on Christmas Eve.
Q. What is one piece of advice you have for other volunteers?
The best piece of advice that I can give other volunteers is to be willing to try new things. It’s easy to pick one venue, animal, or task and stick with it. But volunteering with Best Friends is a great way to learn. Believe it or not, I had never before walked a dog. But I learned how at a pop up adoption event last summer and had a memorable stroll with my new favorite senior pup Papa Bear. It was a short walk, and I had to carry him after he got tired. It was a great experience.