Hair drenched, covered in mud and often the bodily functions of animals, feeling everything but glamorous, sometimes feeling anything but human, you carry on working, helping, trying despite near impossibly odds, because you remember why you began, because you wanted to save as many as you could, physically, mentally and emotionally. You wanted to ease their past trauma, to better their future, to calm and comfort their present. And it's that fire that gets you up each day, and makes you work into the night, you've forgotten who you are a long time ago, but the passion within you burns ever strong. Romantic notions of donning a superhero cloak and lying in cherry blossom with dogs all around you that you've saved were swept aside long ago, and replaced with the 'blink and yo u miss it' wag of a tail from a dog you've spent hours trying to gain trust, the second they relax enough in your presence to accept food from you, when they nuzzle up against you after 2 months of daily walks. It is these moments you continue for, the thousands of pounds of personal development feel worth it for these moments, the years of gruelling study, the heartbreak moments of great loss that you thought at one time you'd never be able to handle let alone experience. Working in rescue is a daily blessing and a lifelong curse, it changes you as a person, hardens you up to people somewhat, and you become more selective about who you trust, who you spend time with, who you let in. The trick is to not let it make you a cynic, to find a way to not become a very depressing person that no one wishes to have around, to avoid compassion fatigue by at times being what you would have once defined as selfish and taking 5 to reflect and escape if needed.
Looking back at old photos of past canine friends is sometimes not possible, nor is speaking about them, or thinking about them, and that's fine, as you know the connection you shared in life.
Rescue workers are emotional adrenaline junkies, we don't want a life free of feeling, that's comfortable and mundane. We want to be where we're needed, and to be needed by the animals we need.
To my fellow rescue workers, keep fighting the good fight, and be gentle with yourself.