Good-bye Rescue, Hello Rescue?
On Friday of last week, I made the decision to step back from rescue for a while. I was completely drained and the emotionality (yup, I just made that word up) of rescue was really taking a physical toll on my health and my relationships with others. You know that saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes? Well, my shoes are like 36 inch stilettos. Wanna try one on? As I am sitting here and writing this, thoughts come to mind of the real superstars of animal rescue and I think I’m being a gigantic weepy lady part. I mean, there are amazing angels out there who do WAY more than me. How in the hell do they do it? How can they manage the almost hourly phone calls and emails asking for help? How can they be the “one stop dumping spot” for every friend, neighbor or brother’s-uncle’s-cousin? The only answers I can come up with are Xanax, heavy drinking and sheer craziness. Yes, these bitches be crazy.
For 4 days I did absolutely nothing on rescue. To avoid the temptation, I removed notifications for all of the Facebook groups I am a member of or administer, I blocked the feeds of my friends who post nothing but depressing shelter factoids and photos (which normally is all I do on Facebook) and eventually, I stopped even going on Facebook at all. After having Facebook for all of these years for the original purpose of contacting my friends, it had become a networking tool that I relied heavily on to save lives. And sadly, that was all it had become. So, away with Facebook… for 4 days. My email accounts met the same fate and if I saw anything that looked like it was from someone in rescue, I deleted it without opening it. I had to completely distance myself. That is, until today.
This morning as I was emptying my emails, I came across one from someone who I really look up to and admire. This girl is one B.A.M.F. (sound it out, you’ll figure it out) When I picture my heroes, she is floating around in my brain and at the top of the list. She works tirelessly day in and day out to help place pets in homes. Hell, I don’t even know if the simple word “hero” is even deserving of her likeness. As I moved my mouse over towards the “delete” button of Yahoo mail, I paused for one split second and then before I knew what I was doing, I instead chose to read the message. That one second hesitation changed everything.
The email was asking me for help in locating an owner. This wasn’t just any lost dog, this dog was scheduled to be put to sleep because his hold time was up and he had no one who had offered to help by adopting or fostering him. Thankfully, 2 relentless rescue volunteers stepped up. They reached out to me because the micro-chip in the dog (aka “Chumley”) was showing an owner but all of the contact information was a dead-end. They knew that I loved to investigate and search for answers so at that moment, I began the search. Yes, I was supposed to be taking a break but typical of me, I was working through it anyway.
After what feels like forever but was only probably an hour, I had traced down the son of Chumley’s owner. I left messages on his phone and Facebook and I just kept calling, over and over. I guess eventually he got the point and he called me back. What I heard on the other line was astonishing.
Chumley was rescued from a shelter in Mississippi by a family that now lives in Colorado. In February of this year, Chumley disappeared from his backyard in Colorado. After searching and checking everywhere, he was nowhere to be found and the family had given up and resigned themselves to the fact that Chumley may have been stolen and they would never see him again. I couldn’t believe that this dog picked up off of the Kansas Turnpike near Kansas City was the same dog who should be in Colorado. I asked for a description of the missing dog and what I heard had me staring at the photo from animal control and shaking my head. All but the description of Chumley’s collar matched. After 4 months, Chumley was found half the U.S. away. While I was in disbelief, the family was flabbergasted. Finally, the only response he could muster is “I guess Chumley really liked the Wizard of Oz.” Immediately, the family expressed the need to have him back home with them and so my rescue friends and I set out on the path to make that possible.
While Chumley’s story is still in the works (and don’t worry, I will share it soon), I really begin to question how I could walk away from something so gratifying in my life. If we all have some “purpose” to our lives, surely mine is to save animals. I’d like to think that responding to that email and seeing something like this happen will restore my strength and faith in myself. It only takes one second to change the path of something. Just one second. While it may just be a “blip” on the radar, I’d like to think that my “blip” is pretty damn special.
To all of you rescues and volunteers out there, “thank you”. What you do never goes un-noticed. While often it doesn’t seem to be appreciated or acknowledged by anyone, know that somewhere out there, a heart still beats because of you.