Monday, April 11, 2016

A-Z of #Dog Rescue: The Immensity of It All — #AtoZChallenge

Dog rescue is an emotionally draining activity. (Oh, come on. The least you can do is act surprised). Not just because of the cruelty (rescuers see more of it, and on a much more regular basis, than the average person sees in their entire lifetime), or because of the tough decisions, the cases so far gone that your only hope for restoring quality of life is to offer a dignified end surrounded by a few humans who care.

No. What gets you—all of us, sooner or later—is the immensity of the problem. 



At some point in every dog rescuer’s life comes a moment when you realize you can’t save all the dogs. You can’t even save the majority. In fact, you and all the rescuers of the world are engaged in the deranged task of emptying an endless, ever-growing ocean—and you’re doing it with freakin’ eyedroppers. 

The day that moment happens is… well, not a pretty day. 

So… should you quit? Avoid getting involved from the outset? But you want to help, you lose sleep over that skinny dog you saw in an empty lot yesterday. At your core, you’re a dog rescuer. Denying it will make you miserable.

What you need to do, then, is figure out a way to keep this immensity from taking over, from tainting all your rescues, from filling your life with helplessness. 


 How does a dog rescuer keep despair at bay? 


  • Forget about the big picture. Narrow your focus to this dog, the one you’re chasing. The one you can help, right now.
  • Celebrate every victory, no matter how small, no matter what else went wrong. In every rescue (in everything) there’s good and bad. Learn from the bad, celebrate the good. Whatever it is.
  • Collect—in a journal, in photos, on Pinterest, on a blog (ahem)—the rescue stories that make your heart sing. Go back to them often, even when you’re happy and don’t think you need a boost. (You do. Plus, if you only revisit these stories when you’re down, eventually you’ll associate them with feeling low—and their magic will wear off.)
  • Hang out with action-oriented people; avoid the complainers.
  • Don’t be a complainer yourself. Your last rescue went completely wrong? Don’t go looking for commiseration. Don’t wallow. (Seriously.)
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes. You failed the dog, yes. Maybe it’s your first time, but it certainly won’t be the last. Learn from it. Self-pity helps no one—especially not your next rescue. 
  • Recharge your emotional batteries often; don’t wait until you’re feeling weighed down. Figure out what it is that recharges you: music, friends, alone time, a particular writer, exercise… anything that makes your brain go into serotonin-and-endorphins mode.


Please don't give up. I need you.

In order for rescue to work, it needs to come from a place of light, from positive emotions. Rescue is about hope. It's about kindness, about doing the right thing—not for you, but for a helpless, voiceless animal. It's about selflessness. It's about love.

For those of you involved in dog rescue, how do you keep your spirits up? What works, or doesn't work? I'd love to know :)

 ~ * ~ 

My apologies for the late post. Last week we had the Curaçao film festival here, and—because it's the only serious-film event of the year—we practically moved into the movie theater. (And, of course, this post wasn't pre-written or scheduled... *Sigh*) I'll do better. And tomorrow, for J, we're in for a much-overdue lightening of the mood around here. Thanks for sticking with me!

42 comments :

  1. I think a good thought to keep in mind is this:
    "It's not about helping everyone. It's about helping any one."
    This applies to dog rescues too.

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    1. I might turn that into a poster, Jeffrey (with your permission, and duly credited). Brilliant sum-up. Thank you.

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  2. I like the part about just concentrating on the dog you're currently rescuing. It might not seem like a huge achievement, but for that one dog, it is everything
    Debbie

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    1. Too right, Debbie... That's exactly it: "for that one dog, it is everything." Thank you!

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  3. I don't think anyone could have expressed this any better. Technically, I rescue dogs and cats.

    My old man cat died yesterday at 17 plus years. It was very sad. However, I remember his beginnings. They had rounded up 5 kittens that were strolling with probably a babysitter juvenile cat who escaped at a school I worked at. A mother had complained about the danger of feral cats to her child.

    I saw the little black kitten and I asked for all five. I did not want all those school children to see those animals as disposable.

    I took them home and with living in a home with other animals they tamed. I still have the only female of the group.

    My animals have been a significant source of joy in my life. I would own more except that I can't afford more in addition to the fact that mine live in the house with their humans.

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    1. Ann, I'm so sorry you lost your cat... No matter how many we have, and how often we lose them, it never gets any easier, does it? Still, I believe that grieving for a furry companion does them the greatest, and final, honor. And what a wonderful story of how he, and his (maybe) siblings, came to you! So happy you were able to keep all five—and tame them. Cats aren't easy, so big kudos to you.

      Thanks for the visit, and for sharing this story. It went straight to my "A+ rescue stories" collection :)

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  4. Wonderful, informative post. I admire all who have the means and the willpower to keep rescuing dogs.
    Many Blessings,
    Lori

    My A2Zs @ As the Fates Would Have It & Promptly Written
    Follow Me (Ravyne) Twitter|Facebook

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  5. I'm filled with admiration for those of you who are on the front lines of dog rescue. Excellent points for coping with it all.

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  6. It is an immense problem isn't it? But you just have to do what you have to do!

    Susan A Eames from
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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    1. You do indeed :) Thanks for the visit, Susan!

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  7. Great blog! I'm like this...but with cats. And it seems that no matter how much we try to do, it's a mere drop in the bucket.
    I love watching Hope for Paws rescues. Except for the one last week I saw where the poor thing didn't make it, it was too sick. I sobbed.
    Trisha Faye
    www.vintagedazecolumn.wordpress.com
    www.scooterstale.wordpress.com

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    1. Hope for Paws is excellent... The guy is amazing, such a good hand for dogs. Yeah, those cases break my heart, too... I've been there, like any rescuer I guess, and it's horrible. But I always think it's better than leaving him/her to die in the street, alone.

      Thanks for the visit, Trisha!

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  8. It is definitely an overwhelming job. I see the dogs that come into the greyhound rescue program and it isn't pretty. It's sad. And it takes a toll on your heart. All of you involved in rescue are the true heroes and you all have earned your angel wings! Thank you for what you do!

    Michele at Angels Bark

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  9. What a heartfelt and important post for all who give so much to Pet Rescue organizations. Point #1 is such good advice. Thanks for stopping by CollectInTexas Gal.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

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    1. Glad you found it so, Sue — and thanks for visiting back :)

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  10. I wouldn't miss a post now - you have me captivated!!

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  11. I can imagine the disappointments would stack up. These folks must be very empathetic, and with that comes a lot of guilt. Well, it does for me. :)
    Great post. I'm sure it fits other professions as well, and taking healing breaks are a must. Honestly, reading your posts opens up the world to the fact that is a huge problem. You're doing a beautiful job, Guilie! Truly!

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    1. Spot-on for the guilt, Yolanda... It does for me, too. And thank you so, so much for your beautiful words.

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  12. Here via the A-Z Blog Challenge. Thanks for visiting my blog, Guilie. I've always shared my life with rescued animals and there's always some guilt because I can't rescue them all so your post resonated with me. You're right, though, we can only do what we can. While I'd like to take in more I have to live within my ability to care for them so I concentrate on making those that live with me as happy and comfortable as I can. I'm nursing a sick cat at the moment and the prognosis is not good.

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    1. Oh, Helen... I'm so sorry to hear about the cat. Hope dies last (as we say in Mexico), so I'll be keeping fingers crossed that he makes it. However it goes, though, I'm glad he had you to care for him.

      I'm with you on the guilt... In the end, those animals we've already taken in deserve a good life, and most of us have limited resources to give them what they need—the walks, the attention, the medical care. So kudos to you for giving your best to the ones you have. Yes, it's about these ones, the ones already here.

      Thanks for visiting back!

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  13. I definitely think that it takes a very special person to be a rescuer - a soft heart to embrace the hurt, and scared, but also made of stone so that it can't fall to pieces.

    Tracy (Black Boots, Long Legs)

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    1. It's quite the paradox, isn't it? Thanks for coming by, Tracy!

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  14. Dogs and cats infact goats too and now pigs have always been part of my life. Sorry I missed my avian friends - the hen and the chicks.Rescue had always been the toughest part for me as the place I come from animals are more or less self treated. But I am glad I found your blog. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. I would've moved into the theater, too--sounds like a blast! Every success IS something to celebrate and be proud of. Every life matters, and each one you save, each one you improve, is a moment to treasure. Soldier on--you've many more moments that matter ahead of you. *pours another mojito*

    The AtoZ of EOS
    #TeamDamyanti

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    1. Oh, yum... I needed a mojito right about now, Sam :D The film festival was a blast—such great movies! Only a couple of the ones we saw were kind of mwah, but pretty much everything else was excellent. I'll post about them on the main blog once April sets us free (*cue disjointedly mad laughter*).

      Thanks for coming by! And for the awesome inclusion in your behind-the-scenes post yesterday—loved it :)

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  16. Your advice would apply to many other fields in life. Celebrating every victory, every little step forward and tackling one thing at a time particularly resonated with me today.

    Best wishes,
    Nilanjana.
    Ninja Minion, A-Z 2016
    Madly-in-Verse

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    1. You're right, Nilanjana; dog rescue (living with dogs, and, probably, with any animal) is chock-full of lessons in life that apply way beyond the context we see them in. Thanks for visiting!

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  17. This resonates with me so much. The immensity of all. For me it's life's overwhelming size that can crush me sometimes without warning. And it's so important what you say, to do it one by one, one day, one dog at a time 💞

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    1. I'm glad to hear this post spoke to you, Andrea :) Indeed, as I just commented in reply to Nilanjana above, dogs (all animals, maybe) are extraordinary Zen teachers. They ground us. They make us live for the moment.

      Thanks for coming by!

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  18. You're right focus on the one, it may be a drop in the ocean but - reminds me of the starfish story. A man was walking on the beach and he saw a little girl throwing starfish that had grounded on the beach sand. Why are you doing that little girl, it won't help, he asked. If one is saved it will help she replied .. thanks Guilie :)

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    1. Susan, that starfish story is something of a motto/mantra for rescuers... It's beautiful, and captures the essence of this work perfectly. Thank you, dear friend :)

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  19. I think the only way one could do this is to focus on that one dog. If one focuses on all of it it would be too overwhelming. I'm not sure I have what it takes.

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    1. That's exactly it, Birgit: one dog at a time is all we can do, and all our brains (and hearts, I suppose) can process. The fact that you can see it, though, tells me you'd be good at it :)

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  20. One of my daughters has had two rescue greyhounds and the other is a veterinarian with animals of her own. Your stories sound very familiar and I'm glad you are putting them out there. http://shirleyjdietz.com/

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  21. One of my daughters has had two rescue greyhounds and the other is a veterinarian with animals of her own. Your stories sound very familiar and I'm glad you are putting them out there. http://shirleyjdietz.com/

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