Pawadise Pet Sitting, which a friend of hers so cleverly named, began humbly at Mirka’s home, because she wanted to spend the first three years taking care of her son after he was born.
“Although I always wanted to work with dogs, it wasn’t until I was pregnant with Jamie that I realized I had to actually make it happen,” she says.That was almost seven years ago. Mirka is now one of the most soughtafter dog sitters in town doing both home visits and overnight stays at her place, where tail-wagging dogs are free to play, swim and nap all day long.
Then things became a little more serious 1½ years ago when Mirka was asked to start a pet rescue after a local rescue closed it doors. She enlisted the help of her good friend Joanna Rulewska and together they started Pawadise Pet Rescue, which grew into a non-profit organization. It would include weekly drives to pick up abandoned and frightened dogs in Miami, going back and forth to homes for inspections and meet-andgreets, training parks, vet visits, store runs, walks, more walks, then finally getting the adoption papers signed and then back to Miami, but not before stopping at the vet in Marathon, because one of the dogs was sick all night long. Like someone with a calling, it would change her life completely and become an important part of who she is.
When they first started Pawadise Pet Rescue, Mirka and Joanna thought they would be rescuing one dog at a time, here and there. Little did they know that it would be more like five dogs at the same time, almost all time. Not even two years later and they have found so many homes for helpless dogs that they’ve lost count.
“It’s funny that everywhere I’ll go, there will always be at least one of our adopters on this tiny island,”
Mirka says she has rescued close to 200 dogs. Hundreds still need her help and she has no plans to stop.
There will always be more dogs that were used in breeding, in fighting, that people just couldn’t care for anymore. The disappointment of humans is sometimes too much for her to understand, especially when previous adoptees decide to return a dog as though it were an item bought at a store. Yet she will always be there when the mistakes of other people cause animals, who can’t help themselves, undeserving harm. And still, she continues to do all of this out of her home.
Mirka doesn’t tell me she wishes animal abuse didn’t exist. That would be like wishing for a perfect world. A nice thought, but almost impossible to achieve. Instead, Mirka says her only wish is that, one day, she can have a bigger house for the dogs. She wishes for a sanctuary where she can devote every second she breathes to the cause that inspires her. It is very likely that this will be her life’s work. It’s something that some of us are still searching for while others caught in the rat race of dollar bills find it too easy to ignore. Anyone who thinks that there is profit in rescue has got charity all wrong. Doing what she does is expensive and doesn’t accumulate riches like a stock bond.
“A lot of people think that the rescue is a job,” she says with a sigh. A lot of people can’t grasp that I do something for free. They think when they give us money we get paid, but the truth is that all the donations go to the dogs.”
I knew right away, the first time I met Mirka, that she was pretty special. I was working a couple of long shifts and needed a dog sitter to look in on my pup while I was gone and happened to remember the name Pawadise plastered on the side of a car that seemed to constantly be driving around town. After arranging for her to stop by so she could properly introduce herself, I stood face- to-face with a small girl with a big heart. She might not remember it, but I will never forget what inspired her to take care of dogs. She simply said that it had come to her in a dream.
“Dogs have been a part of my life since before I was born. I don’t call myself a dog expert or dog trainer or dog whisperer, but life with them is something so natural to me that I can’t imagine it any other way,” she explains. “Their love is unconditional. I love that they never hold grudges. They forgive endlessly over and over again.”
“Oh, and they also don’t have to use words to say something. And they sleep a lot, like me,” she adds.
“You don’t sleep a lot,” I say, catching her in a hopeful wish.
“But I’d love to sleep a lot if I had the chance,” she corrects with a wink.
Follow Mirka’s journey by liking the Facebook page Pawadise Pet Rescue. If you find it in your heart to donate, do so by following the PayPal link at the top right of the page.
It’s all about the dogs. ¦