Giving back takes many forms for Mary Ann Sorich. She is a GDB campus volunteer, donor, and all-around cheerleader for our mission. In addition to lending her time and talents to our California campus veterinary clinic, she has also generously opened her home to many GDB dogs through our foster care program. Our foster care volunteers provide love and care in their homes to dogs who may be at GDB for a variety of reasons, such as career change dogs awaiting placement in forever homes; program dogs receiving medical attention, and more.
Mary Ann started as a volunteer foster care provider five years ago after meeting a sweet black Lab recovering from an orthopedic procedure in our vet clinic. Mary Ann’s beloved pet dog, Kirby, who lived to be 16-1/2 years old, had undergone a similar procedure, so she was confident that she had the experience and equipment at home to help the foster dog recover and thrive. But she was also a bit hesitant, worried that she would get too emotionally attached, especially in light of Kirby’s recent passing at the time. But in this instance, the circumstances just seemed right – so she took the plunge, and hasn’t looked back!
"I learned that I CAN be a foster care volunteer, even though I DO fall in love EVERY SINGLE TIME!" she said. "There is immense satisfaction in helping these dogs enjoy their stay with me for whatever reason, and I’m pretty sure that I end up benefiting the most from this deal. I have also found that I didn’t have to put any of Kirby’s things away, because I could use them for the foster dogs and keep his memory alive."
Mary Ann has a special spot in her heart for fostering senior retired guide dogs. "I am in awe of their lifelong work, their dedication to their partners, their willingness, and constant good natures," she said. "I want to help them into the next stage in their lives: to relax and enjoy retirement. I have found that above all, a retired guide dog always wants to be with a person. So my husband Mark and I get to indulge in a lot of pampering of a dog that is happy to always be at hand (or at feet!), and in return, we get the best reward: the joy of feeling the love and devotion that these dogs readily give."
Mary Ann's current foster charge is a senior retired guide dog who will stay in her long-term care. "We know that she will be with us until she leaves for the Rainbow Bridge," Mary Ann said. "This is the best way we can think of to celebrate her life as a guide dog and to honor the service and dedication she had for her partner. We also hope to provide peace of mind to those folks who are connected to her, so they can know she’s being cared for in the same way that we cared for our own senior dog: by sharing our home with love and laughter and good times. I like to think that every senior dog we’ve fostered, when they reach the Rainbow Bridge, will meet our Kirby and tell him that we were as good to them as we were to him; that’s the best way we know to honor each and every dog that has touched our lives. Thank you, Guide Dogs for the Blind, for the privilege."
Mary Ann, the thanks are all ours. We are so grateful for your generosity and ongoing care of these special dogs!