Saving the Life of an Animal Makes All the Difference in the World. Living & Loving Life One Day After Another.
By Jackie White
Today’s Life Story is about Faye Wollaeger, a true pursuer of life in many ways. Faye’s journey to find her passion illustrates how life can go from black and white to technicolor when your purpose is being followed.
Passion and purpose in life can come in any size or shape. For Faye, her purpose showed up at age 10 when she received her first dog. She learned how a pet can be your best friend with no strings attached. She realized how special it is to love a dog and have them love you back. Zeke, was that special pup who began a lifelong love of animals for Faye.
As Faye began to think about what she might want to do with her life, she always wanted to be married, have children and have a house full of animals. She did not consider going into the veterinarian line of work because the only vets she ever knew were men and because of that, she didn’t think at the time, that being a vet was something a woman could be.
Faye pursued a career in hairdressing. She liked it enough. It was creative, fun and she enjoyed interacting with people. It was a natural talent for her. She worked in her hometown and then moved to Minneapolis and began doing hair and makeup for a quirky tv show called "Mystery Science Theater 3000". In that job, she was also given the chance to do some writing for the show. That opened more opportunities for her to relocate to California where she gained employment as a segment producer on a high profile TV show. She enjoyed the work but felt that something was missing. Her career was one that many would love to have, but for Faye she describes this career as “soul-crushing. It was hollow and meaningless to her. It felt that way because she wasn’t following her purpose in life.
During a time of contemplation, Faye thought perhaps Australia might be a place to clear her head to find her direction in life. She lived there for 6 months and then decided to return to the US and take some college classes. At this time, she was working as a waitress to pay the bills. Life was moving along when she fatefully attended a party one night where she met her future husband, John.
Around that same time, Faye had another fateful meeting. Under her home she found a feral stray cat who just had a litter of kittens. The mother abandoned the kittens and Faye jumped into rescue mode. She took in the kittens and bottle fed them. She had never done anything like this before, but she was good at it. All of the kittens survived. John observed the maternal instinct Faye had and knew she would be an excellent mother. It wasn’t long and they were engaged to be married. Faye also found that these little kittens threw that switch back on in her heart for caring for animals. She remembered. The passion and purpose were always there and now the time was right. It took 18 years after that first spark was ignited by her very first dog, but Faye found her way back. The soul-crushing jobs were no longer an option, she had to follow her heart.
Faye and John moved back to Faye’s hometown and got married. The ring bearer in the wedding was Faye’s dog, Midge and the vows included a vow to love Faye’s animals too! How fitting! They moved into a house close to the local Humane Society and Faye began to volunteer. Sadly, she realized that the Humane Society had a policy to put down pregnant dogs because it was a lot for an agency like that to take on. Faye stepped in and offered a way to save the mom and the pups. She took the mother dog home with her and cared for her throughout the pregnancy and after. She socialized the puppies and got them ready to be adopted. She also worked with the mom, so that she too could find a forever home. This was a huge win for everybody!
The Humane Society now would have cute little puppies for adoption, adoptees who were looking for that perfect pet and of course for the dogs were cared for and loved. Faye saved them from certain death and provided them the means to live a good life. They did not suffer any trauma and have been well cared for before adoption.
Faye is very adamant that there is a person for every animal. Some animals have certain quirks that could be very negative for one adoptive family but may be a perfect fit for another. She feels it is extremely important to be upfront with an animal’s challenges because the adoptive families can assess right away if the animal will work for them. Faye says her faith in humanity is restored when she matches people to their new pet. She sees that there is always someone for every pet! Everything from a senior dog to a hyper rat terrier, there is a match to be made! By the way, Faye does not have a personal favorite type of dog. She claims to be a “non-denominational” dog lover!
Short Term Sacrifice for Life
Faye and family are immersed in fostering and caring for animals. They have built separate birthing rooms for caring for the mamas and the puppies. She says the house smells like puppies for about 8 weeks until they are ready to be adopted. There’s poop to be cleaned up and medicine to be given and maybe for the average animal lover, this could be an inconvenience far beyond what they would be willing to put up with, but not for Faye. She sees life for these little pups. It’s a small sacrifice for her to know that she’s saved these puppies and their moms. To date, she has fostered 65 litters and is still counting. Amazing!
Faye’s dream of getting married, having children and animals has certainly come true. She has been married for 25 years and has 3 boys she is very proud of. She feels that caring for all of these animals over the years has taught her boys how to be compassionate. They have learned that they care for the puppies and then adopt them into deserving homes. They have learned that sometimes life is tough, and a puppy might have medical complications or challenges. Her husband who never even had a pet as a kid, has adapted to his wife’s mission in life. He’s on board and can see her purpose come to life daily. It also doesn’t hurt that he took a vow to care for the animals too!
Faye and family have fostered over 1,500 animals and all of them were adopted! When quantifying what success looks like, this stat would scream over the top success! Even though they have fostered many litters, Faye still enjoys seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of the families who adopt a new dog.
If you are interested in fostering an animal, knowing that by doing so you are likely to make a difference between life and death for the animal. Faye says you need to take a cue from the animal to see what they need. It’s important to try and figure out their personality so that when a potential adoptive family wants to know about the animal, you can give a good honest profile to the family. It’s also important to teach good behavior and manners to the animals.
What if you are ready to adopt? Faye highly encourages you to seek out your new pet from a rescue group or shelter. Many of these animals have all been thrown away or had to be surrendered. They need a family to love and care for them. Faye adds that going to a breeder doesn’t guarantee that you will have the perfect pet.
Neutering and Spaying
If Faye is passionate about animals, she is equally as passionate about spaying and neutering pets. Faye has seen firsthand the challenges that are created when litters of puppies and kittens are uncontrolled. It means a deadly fate for some that aren’t lucky enough to be adopted. Faye is currently volunteering for an affordable spay and neuter clinic. She describes her job akin to the coveted baby cuddlers in a hospital. She helps the kittens and pups wake from the procedure. She holds them and cares for them in whatever way is needed. She is thrilled with her position not only because she is doing what she loves, she is working with others who are doing what they love. The power in that is inspiring! That is what living One’s purpose is about. One last note on spay and neutering, do it, it saves lives.
What Life Has Taught
Faye now knows how valuable it is to trust your instinct and follow your passion and purpose in life. She has learned that life has so much to offer and has found other passions in life too. Faye has found she now has many loves in life including plants, koi fish, thrift shopping, reading, cooking, baking, music and savoring each day. One of her favorite quotes about life is: "Life isn’t just one thing after another. It’s the same thing over and over and over again".
This quote might seem like it doesn’t fit with what Faye subscribes to, but to Faye, it reminds her to mix things up and not get complacent in life. Life is worth living in the light of your purpose. It will motivate you to get up in the morning and inspire you to continue moving forward basking in your passion. As you can see, Faye Wollaeger isn’t your average animal lover. She lives and breathes a purpose so tightly tied to the belief that every animal deserves a chance. She knows what her role is here for these lucky animals that fall into her care.
Today, her home is open to animals of all shapes and sizes. She currently cares for 7 dogs who came to her sick, disabled or with special needs. Her pack includes a pitbull named Remy who came to her at 5 weeks with a feeding tube after getting hit by a car, Steve the poodle who had a slipped disc and walks with a bit of a wobble, Bravo the Bulldog and Lloyd the robust hairless chihuahua who had a terrible skin problem. She also has a 23 ½ year old blind and deaf cat named Jojo and numerous other species she cares for! These animals and the ones Faye previously has cared for, all felt wanted and loved beyond measure. What a gift to them and to those families of the animals that benefited from the care they received from Faye.
Thank you to Faye for sharing her story of how life can go from being the same thing over and over and over again to living life in full inspiration and purpose!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.