Warning, this is a weepy blog entry. Sometimes, I just need to write when I am sad. Today, I’d like to share a story with you all that has touched my heart, and I suspect it will stay with me for quite a while.
Working in animal rescue can be exhausting. Why do we do it? The rewards far outweigh the exhaustion and make every moment more than worth it. When you are a true animal lover (which everyone at ECPR definitely is!) it’s virtually impossible to not get emotionally invested in every single animal that comes through our doors. Some of our animals come from sad situations where their owners have passed away. Others are found as strays and/or presumably abandoned, and the unluckiest ones have suffered abuse at the hands of humans in their past. No matter what background they come from, we love them. If they are cuddle-bugs, we love them. If they are fearful, we love them. If they have issues with aggression, we love them. No animal is ever “mean”, they are just afraid. We want every single animal that comes here to learn that they are loved, and they are safe.
We strive for the happy endings. Every time a pet goes home to his or her new family, we all feel an intense rush of bittersweet joy. They light up our lives here so it’s always a bit difficult to say goodbye to them, but knowing they are going home to the forever family they deserve also reminds of why we do what we do.
There are still those occasional moments that a “happy” ending isn’t in store for an animal. Recently, we were trying to help a Chihuahua with his medical bills, and an MRI revealed he had a degenerative spine disease and there was no cure. His owner, who loved him a lot, made the unbelievably difficult and selfless decision to put the dog to sleep. I cried when I heard the news, and I know I wasn’t the only one. I couldn’t believe it, here was a dog who was happy and obviously very loved, and he was taken from this world and that wasn’t fair. It never seems or feels fair when things like that happen, but I try to remember that when this pup’s owner reached out to us in desperation for help, the medical tests this pup was able to get done with our assistance gave the owner a clear picture of what was wrong with his little guy and he was able to make that difficult decision knowing for sure that there was medically nothing else that could be done to help his beloved pet. In the midst of this sad situation, at least we can take comfort in knowing that everything that could be done for the dog was done.
I’m tearing up a little bit writing this because even though I never personally met this pooch or his owner, their story touched me. The love he had for his pet touched me and made me so proud to be a part of this organization. He is a perfect example of what we strive for with the animals that come through our doors; a loving home with people who have nothing but the animal’s happiness and best interest at heart. Even though the world can sometimes be a sad place, there are always silver linings in the rainclouds. (Excuse the obvious cliché, in this case it just so happens to be true.) In rescue, you have to embrace and appreciate all of the good in order to stomach and get through the bad. You have to remind yourself that sometimes the most compassionate thing you can do for an animal is to let them go.
This weekend, I am going to stay home a lot. I am going to try not to be sad about this precious pup that is in all of our thoughts today, and I am going to cuddle my own pets and make sure they know they are loved, and they are safe. Always take the time for one extra kiss. Always praise your pets when they are good. Always be the kind of person you know they want and deserve.
As a quote-plaque in my friend’s kitchen says, “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” Good advice, anonymous quote. Good advice indeed.