Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
Ann Potter’s least favorite thing in the world is boredom.
“I actually feel like it’s a character flaw if you do get bored,” says the shelter manager of Multnomah County Animal Services. “Life is too big, there’s too much to do. If you’re sitting around whining, ‘I’m bored!’ that’s on you.”
Ann’s life has been anything but yawn-inspiring. A military brat, she lived all over the US growing up. She now lives in Vancouver with her mother and youngest daughter Kaitlyn, as well as two cats, three dogs, a Cockatiel and some chickens. Like her childhood and her home life, Ann’s professional life has been equally eclectic.
“My entire adult life, I’ve had a job for five years then moved on,” Ann says. “I’ve been a teacher, a real estate appraiser, a headhunter for a recruiting firm, a volunteer coordinator for an AIDS organization, and then you get to [MCAS], and everything comes together. It’s so layered and so complex and so interesting, that it’s been ten years.”
Ann began as a volunteer at the shelter and gradually became more involved, cleaning kennels, then fostering dogs and feral kittens. She became Shelter Manager last summer. Ann thrives on the complexity of the position, balancing long-term aspirations for the shelter with daily issues and difficult decisions. She feels like she's finally following her passion.
“I loved animals as a kid, and then I grew up and I thought I would do the things that I’m supposed to do. I got all caught up in the shoulds,” she says. “I got to be about 40 and said, ‘you know, I’m just going to start doing what I want.’ And that was to work with dogs and cats.”
Ann believes her newfound zeal for life comes from finally working where she wants and from the loss of her husband four years ago. She says these events made her realize not only how precious time is, but that there's much more to life than work.
“I still hope to retire and do something bizarre," she says. "Like join the Peace Corps, sail with my boyfriend, move to Alaska for summers and help with tourists. Who knows?”
It was this outlook that lead her to pick up a pair of drumsticks.
“About four years ago, I did the next thing I’d always wanted to do after working with animals, which was learn to play the drums," she says. "I took lessons for a while and then stopped when I became shelter manager, because I was just too busy. Then toward the end of the summer, my boyfriend — who is also a drummer — responded to an ad I placed that said, ‘crappy drummer seeks people to jam with.’ Now, a couple of guitarists and a bass player come over about once a week, and it’s so fun! It’s one of the few things that gives me energy!"
Ann doesn’t know what she’ll do next in her life, but whatever it may be it’s sure to be fascinating and fun. . . if not a bit envy-inspiring. Kind of like the shoe she says is “her": moccasins. Thin ones, to be specific.
“Then there’d just be a thin layer of leather between me and the earth so I could feel and experience it all."
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Jane Alexander is a promotions coordinator and junior copywriter at Entercom Radio in Portland as well as a freelance writer.