Tuesday, March 30, 2010



Why is this such a dirty word in Animal Welfare? Why is it such a bad thing to have compassion for the animals you care for?

I bring this up for a few reasons. One, a comment was made to me a few days ago about a dogs welfare and the way it was said made it seem like they were trying to convince me that what they were doing was the right thing. Which I already knew it was. I guess they felt I would get emotional, and they needed to make sure that I knew it was the right thing.

Secondly, comments have been made about me to others about how I'm a little fragile when it comes to euthanasia. Is this a bad thing? I wouldn't say I'm fragile, but I certainly don't like it. But- at the same time I realize sometimes its the only option left; for whatever reason. Yes, I cry. Yes, I can get extremely bitter. But why does this make me fragile?

Which brings me back to compassion.

I think people build a wall sometimes to help them cope with the ugly side of our job, and I understand that. No matter how many times it happens, it sucks. Animals die (sometimes for circumstances we can't change) and it can be unbelievably unbearable to us.

But I've noticed something in myself. If I put that wall up, then I start losing the little hope that I do have for all the animals I care for. I run out of it or I just don't have any. I don't want to be that person. I don't want to be so cynical about my job just because of the harsh reality of it.

Compassion is not a bad thing. Yes, it hurts like hell when you have so much love and care for a dog and they still can't be saved. My God, does it hurt. At the same time though, I feel like if I don't give that dog my compassion I can't give them as much as they give me. My dogs (I refer to the dogs I care for as 'mine') love me. No questions, no shame, no nerves; they love me. They love me whether I take them for 80 walks or no walks. They love me whether I'm in a good mood or bad mood. They love me when I'm sad. They love me when I'm happy. They love me. Plain and simple. Thats the beautiful thing about animals. They love you regardless. They are so unashamed of their compassion for humans. Why are we so scared of the same compassion?

So here it is: Is it better to put that wall up, and guard the love you give to the animals because you are scared of the outcome? Or, is it better to say "yes, I loved that animal so very much. It hurts like hell that they aren't around anymore. But I think they knew how much I loved them, regardless. And even if they didn't, at least I know how I cared for them for the short while I had them".

Monday, March 22, 2010


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.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Many the Miles

Sometimes giving up is the hardest thing. Sometimes letting go is the hardest thing. But in making the decision to give up, or to let go, as long as you know in your heart it is right then you can't really fight it even if you really want to.

If the decision is more than "should I choose silk or milk?" it gets even harder. If the decision is based off of emotions or parts of your life it can be unbearable.

You will feel guilty. You will spend some days wanting to change your mind. Sometimes, you'll want to forget everything and the only way to do that is with one too many girly drinks with names like 'sex on the beach', 'windex' or 'sea breeze'.

You'll go on trying to live your life. You will go out. You will have fun. You will have so much fun that you think you are finally starting to move on. But if the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning is how you still don't know how to deal, then you still have a way to go.

I still have a way to go.