Every Monday evening, you’ll find Tim Buchek and Lara Gates volunteering at the Gateway Pet Guardians Emergency Shelter. For the past 4 ½ years, they’ve spent one day a week completely devoted to the shelter pets – walking dogs, cleaning out kennels, giving belly rubs, playing fetch outside, and enriching the lives of shelter residents. That’s over 200 shelter shifts, hundreds of dogs, countless messes cleaned and thousands of miles walked. They share a love for the dogs, but they also share a love for one another… all thanks to their work with the shelter pups.

Tim and Lara’s story actually began 4 ½ years ago. Tim started volunteering with GPG March 2012 as a shelter volunteer, but also did outreach and ride alongs. He was so involved, in fact, that he earned GPG’s Volunteer of the Year in 2013.

In September 2012, Lara submitted her application to volunteer, and was paired with Tim for orientation. He trained her on the routine of a Monday night shift. Lara came back her second and third week, and every week since. She was hooked.

Their time together sparked more than just a friendship. Lara recalls, “About a month after I started, Tim asked if I wanted to hang out ‘without dogs’. I said I would think about it. Then he asked me about 3 more times before I said yes. We started dating after that and we are now engaged to be married in September 2017, 5 years after we met at the shelter.”

We are incredibly thankful to have such dedicated volunteers as part of the Gateway Pet Guardians family, and we are excited to watch Tim and Lara continue their journey together. And we know they will always hold the shelter pups close to their hearts! Congratulations, Tim and Lara!

Photos courtesy of Branwyn Reis.