Christina Bourassa

How long have you been volunteering for hart?
I started volunteering in spring of 2015.

What is your volunteer role within hart?
I started off as a caseworker on the HART behavior team, but soon took on a foster role as well, so now I help give behavioural advice to other foster parents in between training sessions with my own foster pup.

What do you do when you are not volunteering?
In September I will be starting my second year of the Animal Health Technician program at NAIT and will graduate in 2016. I currently work at two vet clinics in the Edmonton area, 1 emergency clinic, and one regular practice and intend to stay in emergency and large animal medicine once I graduate. When I'm not at work or volunteering, I spend time with my two fur babies and my foster pup, and enjoy photography, music, and being outside (preferably on the farm or in the mountains, but anywhere outside will do).

If you were a rescue dog, what kind would you be?
I would be the type of dog that is shy at first but once you know me I'd be happy go lucky and constantly wagging my tail. I would love my owners and basically everyone I met and I would want to have as many dog friends as possible to hang out with! I would definitely be a Shepherd cross, like my youngest fur baby, with the outgoing personality, and the obsessive compulsive tendencies.

Why do you volunteer with hart?
I have a behavior background, and being in school I hadn't been able to make use of my training and behavior knowledge. I had been searching for the perfect rescue to volunteer with when I saw a posting for behavior team volunteers, and I knew that it was the ideal position for me. Once I started with HART, I knew I was with the right group and nothing makes me happier than going into foster and adoptive homes and working with the dogs, and seeing how loving and happy they are despite everything they've gone through.

What experience in hart made you realize you were making a difference?
Fostering Ingrid, and seeing the changes in her even after only a few weeks, has made me realize how much of an effect we truly have on the animals we are helping. Nothing makes me happier than to see Ingrid run around and play like a real dog with my two pups, when only two weeks ago she was cowering from them and would only play if I was standing with her and encouraging her to do so.

What advice would you have for someone who is considering volunteering?
I would say to anyone who is considering volunteering, to just go ahead and do it. I was worried about time commitment before I started, but there are so many roles and positions available that no matter whether you have 4 hours a week to spare or 4 hours a month, there is always something you could do. Also, you will never regret a day of helping these amazing dogs, they will teach you so much about yourself and about life.