"Our Best Friends" is a monthly installment to honor just a few of our outstanding Best Friends LA volunteers. This is your chance to get to know some of the shining stars in the Best Friends LA volunteer program! Volunteers are either nominated by Best Friends LA staff or other volunteers in our program. If you would like to volunteer, email the Best Friends LA Volunteer Department at volunteerLA@bestfriends.org.
Kristen Hirsch - Honored December 2018
Kristen, tell us…
What BFLA programs/events/volunteer roles do you find yourself participating in?
The volunteer program here is so comprehensive and fun and the options to help and give back are so varied! I tried several areas but found that the dogs are my jam. I love walking them, going on the large dog hikes and the adventure buddy’s program. Besides taking care of the dogs, I also have the privilege of working with the media team, Wendi and Michelle. I really admire the care they take with every dog and cat, giving special consideration to the seniors. They see each as a unique individual, selecting the perfect collar, accessory and toy to enhance the picture. It’s wonderful to watch these two work together, gently coaxing the poses they need to transform these kids into perfect headshots. First impressions are everything and one of my favorite things to do is to be part of their process.
Why do you choose to volunteer with Best Friends LA?
I’ve had animals most of my life and since retiring a few years ago I was looking for a way to make my free time more meaningful. I chose to volunteer at Best Friends because I believe strongly in the Best Friends/NKLA mission and wanted to be part of organization where all animals matter regardless of their age, behavior or little imperfections.
How long have you been a BFLA/NKLA volunteer?
I started volunteering in May of this year.
Do you have a favorite story to share about an experience volunteering with Best Friends LA? Share it!
I seem to be drawn to the more anxious and shy dogs. When I first started volunteering, there was a larger Chihuahua named Lobster who’s bunkmate was a boisterous 3-pounder, also a chichi. Lobster was so scared, not wanting to leave his bed or approach the front of the kennel. Watching as potential families passed him by broke my heart. I focused on comforting him each time I volunteered, always setting aside time to sit with him in his kennel. I would wrap him up in a towel-burrito so that he felt extra secure. We would sit together, him wrapped up in my lap, and me reading my emails out loud to him. I did this for a couple of weeks until one day he ran up to his kennel door. I melted. When a family finally chose him, I experienced such a rush of emotions. His adoption impacted me in the most wonderful way. How could I be simultaneously over the moon for him and also so sad that I wouldn’t see him anymore?! I realized right then and there that I had to keep doing this work. I came to understand that making a difference in one dog’s life is everything and for that I am truly grateful to my Lobster.
What do you do when you're not volunteering (career/extracurricular activities)?
After retiring from a career in enterprise software sales, I’m pretty psyched to finally relax and just BE. I’m obsessed with our own furry babies and love hanging with them. I’m also working on my golf game, take pilates classes and love all things interior design.
Do you have any pets? Tell us about them!
My wife and I have four furry rescues, 2 cats (Archie and Lucy) and 2 dogs (Finn and Zoey). Finn is our 11 year old jack Russell who works diligently to tolerate the cats and is constantly campaigning for more of his moms’ lap time. His favorite sport is sun bathing. Zoey is our sweet, 4 year old sheltie mix. She loves chasing birds and playing with her cat, Archie. Archie enjoys suckling on t-shirts and chasing his fake mouse-bird toy. Lucy is 13 and is happy with her schedule, which includes sleeping 23 hours a day.
What others are saying about Kristen:
Kristen is truly a special volunteer! She is without question a staff and volunteer favorite to work with! Kristen is not only an incredibly talented dog handler, she is a truly lovely person that brings such a great positive energy to our team! Kristen's contributions to the center are invaluable! We are lucky and honored to know Kristen and receive her remarkable support! Thank you Kristen for everything that you do at NKLA! You are the best! -Justin (Volunteer Coordinator)