Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dark Side of Rescue Work

I will try to do this post justice but it may come out all wrong.

It has been a few days since Melody our 8month old bottle goat was killed. Fortunately I have some amazing friends, fantastic sister, and very understanding and caring husband aka 007. So I would say I am healing. I feel a bit guilty about that, doesn’t seem as if I have grieved long enough or been sad long enough.

Maybe it is my rational scientific brain or it’s the constant grounding I receive from my support group. I can’t really say. However, I have learned a few things from all of this and I would like to share them with you.

First, grief over the loss of a pet regardless of the type is perfectly natural, probably innately human. For some it last a short time and others can experience grief for years. I also have learned that grief associated with a tragic event can be complex and it is best to allow your mind to process the images you are trying to forget. By doing so you are able to accept what happened and then start to let it go, the images are no longer holding you down. A therapist who specializes in pet loss explained this to me.

Second, one must let go of guilt. It will eat you alive and all of the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” you can come up with won’t turn back time. I have found this to be true across the board regardless if your pet died tragically, you had to make the choice to have it euthanized, or there was a behavior issue related problem that could not be corrected. The last I see as the hardest and something that rescue workers face way too often.

By the time a pet gets to me chances are the damage has been done, my job is to see if I can repair that damage and help the pet trust again, in human kindness. I would say I am successful more than I fail. However, I will be the first to admit that I have the privilege to select the projects I take on. I do not run a shelter that receives city our county funds and must take in everything. So I can hedge my bets so to speak and pick the cases that will probably end happily.

However, the dark side of rescue is the reality that you maybe called upon to make a judgment call based on behavior and that will always result in guilty feelings at least for me. I constantly debate a case and I network like a fool. I work with as many people as I can find to see if someone has learned something new that has worked. I have this inability to accept failure. In reality it really isn’t my failure at all or my success. It is just reality and reality sucks sometimes. This leads me to number three…

Third, for people like me who lump ourselves into the control freak category it is easier for our brains to believe we are responsible than to accept the reality that we are not in control of the world. Yea, this one rocked me to my core. Re-read it because not only is this true but it will help with the guilt.

There is a line from an episode of Law and Order; “You can do everything right, and still have a bad outcome.”

Now does this mean I believe I did everything right? No, but I will learn from this and I will make damn sure this never happens again.

Fourth or finally, I know that I must for my own sake open my heart up again. I am a big believer that my path is guided and many along that path are helping me. I entered rescue work and am trying to become a veterinarian because of this fact. My step into rescue work was propelled by the wish to honor a dear pet that had only been in my life maybe six months. Still he left a pawmark and he pushed me forward, his name was Sampson and he was by far the coolest cat I have ever had the pleasure to share space and time with.

I feel a weird and uncertain push yet again and it’s strange and I don’t care for it too much. However, I am listening and well maybe it is my little friend telling me she is ok. Maybe I am weird or odd but I believe in stuff like that.

So, I have been watching the sale barn to see if anyone brings in some goats with the hope of giving them a cushy life at the ranch. Yep, I want to try again and my sister who sent Melody to me has already put me on the list to receive a bottle baby goat if any of her momma goats need help.


This is from St. Theresa’s Prayer and somehow it helped me.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be, may you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

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