As the year comes to an end it is difficult not to look back before focusing on the future. And what an incredible year it has been. Our shelter has never been stronger. Our Clinic is up and running and thousands of animals have been spayed and neutered that may have never been without it. Our shelter animals receive the best care possible and the attention of volunteers each and every day. Our educational program is thriving! More animals adopted and less euthanized than at any other time. And the potential for continuing a theme of life saving efforts enormous. I cannot help but celebrate this last year and be proud of all our team has accomplished!
Excited about the future it would seem appropriate to attempt some resolution for the coming year. And while I’ve been an failure at keeping any New Years resolution ever made, including the one I made for years during grade school to be quiet in class, I will try again this year.
I suppose this year’s resolution is as feebly made as that one. I was a talker. Maybe this one is as much about advice for others as anything as my hope of applying it in my own life seems futile at best. But maybe in putting it in writing, I have a vague chance of success. So I will try.
This year’s resolution is to find balance in my life.
Now anyone that is reading this that is involved in any way in animal rescue knows the dilemma of the quest for balance. It means attempting to turn off your head for even the briefest of moments to live in a world that doesn’t revolve around the plight of homeless animals. It means telling yourself that the animal you’ve just discovered is cold or hungry or due to be euthanized somewhere if not rescued from a shelter will be okay without you. It means telling the person who has just realized that their missing pet is in our shelter and despite it being after closing hours, not feeling compelled to rush there to reunite them immediately regardless of the fact that you are already in bed. It means telling yourself that it’s okay to say “no” when someone asks for help with an animal in need. It means telling your foster coordinator that you need a break from fostering so you can catch up on the things you used to think were essential to normal life that now seem like extravagances. You know, things like going shopping or cleaning your house or getting a pedicure or going out with friends who are NOT involved in animal rescue and NOT talking about animal rescue and NOT checking your messages for messages about animal rescue. How absurd!
It means NOT planning each and every day around your chosen responsibilities of caring for homeless animals, fostering, helping in rehab, helping people find their lost pets, advising on behavior issues or simply spending time in your shelter with the animals there. It means mostly turning off your head that is constantly spinning with ideas on what to do next to make a difference for homeless animals. Sometimes it means curtailing the desire to simply write a blog about the animals that have been saved or lost in the hopes of educating others…inspiring others to get involved…moving others to adopt.
It means not plotting out your next strategy to sell your local government on the benefit of the services your shelter provides to the community. Not working on updating the website, not planning the next event, not researching new techniques in animal training and not Googling things like “animal shelter software” or “breed specific issues” to stay abreast of new developments that may help down the road. It means not checking your ever active Facebook group for issues, questions and complaints that you think require your attention.
As I write these words I know that again in 2015 I’ll be an utter failure at doing any of these things. Balance is not a part of my world and seems as foreign to me now as spending four hours on the golf course or a vacation that doesn’t involve visiting another shelter to steal ideas or ignoring my email for a week to lay in the sun. Impossible. But in failing I will simply be following my heart. Simply doing what it is that I was put on this earth to do.
To those that cannot understand or appreciate such failure, I will not apologize nor attempt to explain. Moreover I will most likely feel compelled to feel sorry for those who can so easily walk away from what monopolizes your time and wish for you in this coming year that you too can find what ever it is that will make giving up a “normal” life worthwhile. As in this crazy, never ceasing, often emotionally draining world of animal rescue I find myself happier than I could ever imagine being. And in some strange but enormously reassuring way, I find the greatest challenges and the greatest reward.
What I realize today more than anything else is that helping homeless animals is not what I do. It is what I am.
Categories: Shelter Facts