The job that I do has many upsides. I get to see changes in animals everyday and know that in some small way that I helped them. I get to see animals find the families that they should of had all along. I hold a puppy in my hand that can barely eat on it's own and sometimes get an update a year later and see how big he or she has grown. Sometimes a dog is so scared that they hide in the corner of they're kennel and I get to be the one who works to bring them out of they're shell. It's so rewarding when they start to recognize me and I know I've made a difference. Thats the best part of my job: knowing I've made a difference. Regardless of size or significance, because in actuality, even if the world doesn't seem to notice or care what you are doing the animals do. They know when you've helped them. They don't forget so readily as humans do.
But sometimes- you can work your hardest, put all your dedications and efforts in to one animal and it just won't make a difference. That was the case with Gremlin.
When Gremlin first came in to the shelter he did not like me at all- which is why he was placed in my part of the shelter. He needed some work on socializing. It took a while. Every time I would walk by his kennel he would bark and go crazy- but I would just keep giving him treats and talk sweet to him. Eventually, one day, he wasn't barking and going crazy. He was just jumping up to try and get close to me. I leashed him up, we went for a long walk, and he kissed me. You know, those sweet slobbery kisses (and he may have only been eleven pounds, but by God that boy was a sloppy kisser).
I saw changes in him everyday. He became my bud. We'd go for walks. He'd let me cry in his kennel while he sat next to me not knowing what to do but just lean his head against me (which was all I needed). We played tug of war together. He attacked me with affection and I in return attacked him with attention and love.
But it wasn't enough to save him. Although a few people were able to make some of the same progress with him- a few wasn't enough. He also had health issues that weren't going to let him be an appropriate adoption candidate.
I gave him his last peanut butter kong today. I walked him around the shelter one last time today. I took him out to the dog park and let him run to his hearts content for the last time today. And then we went on another long walk because I just wasn't ready. I cradled his face and recieved his sloppy kisses for the last time today. Then, I said 'I love you', and walked him to his death.
I love my job. I love how rewarding it is. How I know I'm making a difference and how it makes me feel. But some days, the only thing my job makes me want to do is curl up in a ball and cry. It's not the shelter's fault that he was euthanized. I honestly believe that the only way we would have made the decision to euthanize is because all options had been used and weren't effective.
But even though I know this, and I know he's not in any pain anymore, I still miss him.
R.I.P. Gremlin- you'll forever be my little Grem Grem.