“Doing something so small can make you feel like a million bucks!”
Not my own words but very much my own feeling….often. It’s a quote from someone I just met on Facebook who posted these words after spending a day at the Jackson County shelter helping care for their recently acquired puppy mill dogs. The little thing she spoke to was cleaning up poopy cages. This little thing was giving to a shelter in need in a way that certainly had great meaning and value to them beyond words. And while she didn’t leave with anything more than the deep satisfaction of having contributed to their well-being and a desire to return, the benevolent woman left with a full heart and great satisfaction. It doesn’t get much better than that.
One of the most difficult times in my life was after our huge puppy mill rescue in 2008. Not during it (although surely challenging) but moreover after it was over and I had to return to work. It was difficult to find purpose and satisfaction in my day job after being involved every minute of the day in doing something that had such a constant and visible sense of making a change in the lives of the dogs we rescued. But it doesn’t take a 1000 dog puppy rescue to provide such a sensation. It happens virtually every day. Whether its caring for a tiny puppy or kitten in my home, working with a scared dog in the shelter or playing ball with a rowdy dog in the playyard. The opportunities are endless.
As I stood before a group of women this week talking about our shelter, what we do, the challenges we face, the success and improvements we’ve made and all that we have left to do, I found myself feeling much the same as I drove away. A full heart and so satisfied to have not only found my purpose and passion but having had an opportunity to share it with others who graciously received it with enthusiasm and interest. And I only cried twice as I did so. Tears that are always promoted by the sense of joy it brings to my life.
Every night when I see the posts of our volunteers who share their experiences walking the dogs of our shelter, illuminating their qualities, pleading for their adoption and relishing the time they have with them, I know they feel the same. It’s just a walk around the block some might watch from afar. But it’s so much more than that. Much more to the dogs. And much more to the volunteers who share their time and their hearts! They don’t simply do this because they know the dogs enjoy the extra potty breaks they offer them each evening. They do this because they themselves enjoy so much the feeling of satisfaction of being a part of making their lives better. Of offering them these moments of freedom.
And the same is true of those that stop for the stray running loose and scoop them up into safety. Or those that take time out of their lives and take action when they find the kittens or puppies so carelessly dumped to fend for themselves. Bringing them to the shelter in the hopes that their rightful owner will come looking or if not, that they will find homes and families who will love them as they should be. Whatever the circumstances, those that resolve to get involved in these seemingly small ways must feel the same satisfaction of having given of themselves. And even those who share posts of lost or found animals in the hopes that this effort will culminate in reunification must delight in those occurrences just the same.
And when the appreciative owner is found, I assure you it’s not a small thing to them. It’s huge! And the sense of accomplishment…of contributing in even some “small” way is priceless.
Yet no one does it for the intended benefit to one’s self. They do it because they know how they would feel if it was their pet. They do it because they care about all animals in need. They do it because they know the animals need and appreciate their time, no matter how brief or how long. They do it because they care.
And at the end of the day, if you can fall asleep knowing that even in some small way you helped to make an animal’s life just a little bit better, your heart will be full to overflowing. And you might find that when you awake the next day, you want to feel that way again.
Simple as it sounds, the key to happiness and that full heart is in the giving of it to help others. As a wise woman who I’ve never met said so well, it’s worth a million bucks.