1.09.2012

While I Wasn't Writing...

Warren needs a family
So much has happened around here since Christmas. Obviously, you all know about my grandparents' car accident, and the toll it took on me and my family.

But a lot of other things have happened over the last couple of weeks... so I thought I'd share some of that with you.

I've been working at Lucky Dog each day... feeling like a shell of a person. While I was physically-capable of completing the daily tasks here, my body just felt heavy... or numb... or both. My mind felt foggy... or empty... or both. I just wasn't... me.

My grandparents' accident happened on Christmas day, which was one of my busiest work days of the year. On that day, I had so many boarding dogs in my care, as well as all of my rescue dogs, and they each needed me. They needed me to be... me.

Maybe I wasn't "me" that day --or many of the days that followed-- but I refused to let my dogs know it. It just wouldn't have been fair to use my pain as an excuse to deny their needs. I'm here to take care of them... not the other way around.

I won't lie... I was really struggling on a personal level, but the bottom line is this: my clients trust me with their "babies." I trust myself with my own "babies." And I've earned that trust... because I do take my responsibilities to these dogs so seriously. I'm always here for them... no matter what. No matter how heartbroken I may be... no matter how sick I may be... no matter how exhausted I may be... I never abandon them.

Sonny needs a family
So... like I said, the holiday season is Lucky Dog Retreat's busiest time of year. In turn, it's my craziest time of year. It's the time of year when I rarely stop, or think, or eat. That's always the case for me during the holidays, even without the personal family crisis that occurred this particular Christmas.

But, in addition to the ever-present holiday craziness around here, this also happens to be the time of year when everyone decides to call me about a dog in need. And obviously, it's the time of year when I'm least able to help them... with absolutely no space to do so.

Often, the "emergency" is simply a stray dog that wandered up to someone's home. Or a litter of puppies that someone dumped on their doorstep. Or a family pet that suddenly needs to go... today, right now, this second.

When people make these "desperate" calls to me, do they care about the insane amount of stress I'm already dealing with this time of year? No. Do they appreciate everything I'm already doing for dogs in need? Not really. Do they accept any of my offers... to do everything in my power to help... other than physically taking the dog? Nope.

Do they care that it's my "Christmas" too? Negative.

Despite the fact that I have little left to give... I always offer help anyway. I'm told: No. Despite my increasing financial burden... I offer to pay for all of the dog's food, vet care, etc... if they can just foster the dog, or help me find someone who can. I'm told: No. Despite my personal overload, I offer to use my time and energy to find a loving home for the dog, if someone can just foster for me in the meantime. I'm told: No.

Warren wants a forever home!
It's insanely frustrating. Everyone needs my help... but no one is willing to help me help them.

So, after my help is repeatedly rejected, I'll kindly say, "This dog wandered up to your home. Not my home. Your home. And even though this isn't really my problem, I've still offered to help you in every way that I possibly can. Even though I'm extremely overwhelmed at the moment, I've still taken time out of my day for you, and offered to help you find a wonderful home for this dog. Even though I don't have the money, I've still offered to pay for this dog's food and vet care, so you don't have to. And even though I didn't have to offer any of that to you, I still offered, because I want to help this dog. I'm sorry if my offers weren't enough for you, but honestly, this is all I have left to give."

I pause... and wait for them to feed me a load of excuses, give me a hateful guilt trip, or rudely hang up in my face. Or all 3.

But what those callers don't know... is that I'll spend the rest of the day... beating myself up, because I couldn't do more. I'll cry, for the dog I couldn't help, and the people who didn't care. And I won't sleep that night... because I'll feel as though I failed.

Then, I'll get up the next morning. Go to work. Get another call about a different dog. Have another rough day.

Every single day of December, I received calls about this-or-that dog in need. All the while, I had a building-full of dogs already in my care. Each caller thought they were the only caller, with the only dog in need. Each phone call took time away from my dogs getting what they need. Even still, each person received offers of my help. And not one of them accepted.

So... in addition to my stress at work this holiday season, and the constant worry over my grandparents' life-threatening situation, my burden was further increased each day... because there are just too many dogs in need... and too few people willing to help them.

Honestly, one person can only take so much.

Sonny wants a forever home!
I guess I shared all of this... to share the heartbreaking reality for those of us in animal rescue. We're over-capacity. We're under-funded. We're overwhelmed.

And still... with nothing left to give... we offer to give anyway.

We have feelings. We have hearts. We feel pain.

But... few people seem to care.

We have needs. We have families. We have... lives.

Yet, we often deny our own needs, families, and lives, over-and-over again... so others can get what they need, be with their families, and live their lives.

I am an animal rescuer. I am also... a person.

So, when you call me (or someone like me), because you have a need, please remember that I have needs of my own. When you want my help, please understand I may need your help, too. When you are busy, please keep in mind that I'm pretty darn busy myself. When you have a crisis, please realize that I may be dealing with more than one crisis in my own life. And when you feel inconvenienced by some animal at your home, please know that your call is an inconvenience to me.

And yet... I'm there for you... in every way that I can be. I don't owe you anything, but I offer it to you anyway. I put my needs aside... to try and help with your needs. I add to my stress... to try and reduce your stress. And I take time from my life... to try and make your life easier.

All the while, I'm going through my own personal hell... and still... I'm the one comforting... you.

Please, remember these words in your dealings with others. Maybe, every now and then, you should offer help to someone else, instead of simply expecting others to help you. But... at the very least, when help is offered, you should always say "Thank you."

My dogs always do...

*If you'd like to help Lucky Dog Rescue, donate today!

42 comments:

  1. I feel your pain Ash-I'm sorry.

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  2. Your words sure hit home... when I said something last year about being so tired, about needing a day off, someone told me that I was hateful, selfish, and that dogs were dying because I was whining. People suck sometimes. *hugs*

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  3. I can't even imagine how overwhelmed you must feel most of the time. You are doing a wonderful thing, and those dogs are so very lucky! One of my New Year's resolutions was to start fostering again (we adopted our 9th foster pup last year, and have been nervous to foster with our grumpy guy in the house). It can seem like a lot of responsibility to essentially train, love, and take care of a dog that is not your own. However, good outweighs the bad x100. The love, affection, and the way you get to see them grow into wonderful dogs is an amazing experience!

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  4. You have so adequately described what I believe to be most wrong with our society. The vast majority of people are takers, with so few givers. And those takers want it all, not just a small part. People need to understand that it isn't all or nothing and that they are not entitled. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being one of the few truly giving people.

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  5. God bless you and all that you do for the unwanted. I'm so sorry that more people aren't more willing to help. It's impossible for one person to "save" everyone. Take care of YOURSELF first. I'm going now to hug my 3 rescues!

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  6. Boy you could not have said this any better,my problem is i live in the Country with 7 Acres fenced in and they dump the Animals over the fence.i am lucky i have e Vet that charges me half of the cost if their is something wrong the last time it was Heartworm we tracked down the Vet that diagnosed the fem.Pit and the Owner who"s Answer was she couldnt affort to get it taken care off,we where lucky I
    found a furever home for her that took care of the Heartworm and she just adores Keeper.i want to say thank you to you for everything you due we dont get enough of those exept from the Pets we take in

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  7. Ashley, for the record...I think you are awesome! You are truly an inspiration! Keep up the good work you are doing...the world needs more people like you.

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  8. It's easy to foster. Come on people! Your story is one of honesty. I appreciate it & you.

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  9. YOU ARE A GREAT LADY AND GOD GAVE YOU THIS NEVER ENDING JOB, YOU WERE MEANT TO DO THIS.YOU GIVE IT YOUR ALL AND THEN SOME. I JUST RESCUED ANOTHER CAT THAT SOMEONE DIDN'T WANT ANYMORE. I DON'T HAVE THE FUNDS BUT I WILL NOT GET SOME OF MY MEDS THIS MONTH TO COVER THE COST, IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS, MY HUSBAND HAS LOST BOTH LEGS AND WE HAVE LOST ABOUT EVERYTHING, BUT WE KEEPGOING. WE ARE BOTH ON DISABILITY.WE KNOW HAVE 8 INSIDE RESCUE CATS AND NOW THEY ARE SAFE AND LOVED.GOOD LUCK TO YOU

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  10. No one seems to understand the challenges of being a foster, and yet no one wants to know, either. They just assume that your wallet and home are as unlimited as the love you feel for these dogs and the comfort you offer them, and blindly turn away from your own needs because it would remind them of just how little THEY want to offer.

    I only recently discovered your blog, but am so grateful that I did. I just began picking up and fostering dogs a couple of years ago, and although we (my husband and I) are now under a pretty heavy financial burden from the tremendous vet bills, boarding bills, food, toys, etc., etc., etc., we continue to help because we want to believe that money is secondary to love, that somehow, somewhere, the universe will provide, and that sometime, someday, all will be well and the foster pups who pass through our lives will find good, loving homes, and we can turn our attention to the next dog(s) in need.

    Thank you for sharing your stories. You're truly an inspiring hero for many of us.

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  11. I have to disagree, anonymous, it's not always easy to foster. If you try to foster out of state, they shoot you down. I know, I just rried that. It was supposedly an "URGENT" case and nobody else came forward to offer but I guess they would rather put the poor dog down than send her out of state. And they call themselves a "rescue". Plus if you've already got pets, it's not that easy to introduce a new one to the household.

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  12. Amen, Marjorie! And so happy to see you're still fostering in spite of the expense! You will have a special place in heaven and your fosters will meet you there. :-)

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  13. Dear Ashley,
    You are a ANGEL...God Bless you <3

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  14. Ash, i'm always here for you to vent xoxo

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  15. On the positive side, the Animal Rescue site has started their shelter contest again today. You can vote once a day for EACH computer you own!! Spread the word for Lucky Dog!

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  16. O Ashley, Bless you!!!

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  17. Hang in there, girl. Karma . . .

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  18. Ashley,I don't know you personally,but from your posts,blogs and Pet Pardons,I know that you are a wonderful,loving,caring person..I too love and care for our animal friends..share and advocate every chance I can..Thank You for all do !!!

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  19. There must be a way to get you some regular help that you can count on.

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  20. This deffinetly needed be said. Maybe this will open some eyes. Ashley Your Kind , Your strong And heart has no end~ Please dont cry tonight~ There are no words to exspress my thoughts of who you are besides an Angel~ Thank You for the endless love you give to the dogs, Even when you feel as though you have nothing left you find more to give~ You are my hero.

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  21. Hi Ashley, Hate to say it but most humans suck, they think of their own needs above all else. If everybody in the world was like you it would be an awesome place. I dont know you personally but feel like I do with all your blogs. The work you do is spectacular and you should'nt beat yourself up because you cant do it all you do alot and the dogs you save are very lucky. Prayers to your grandparents and keep the faith....

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  22. Ashley, I wish I could just come out and give you a big hug and help you out. Sadly, I live out in California or else I'd be over there. I've worked at a few shelters before, and have none near me now where I live. You are amazing! You do more than almost any other person I know. Keep fighting and I'm praying for your grandparents <3

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  23. Ashley, that was beautiful!!! I'm so happy you are writing again, because it really must make you happy and you are a gifted writer. I'm glad someone else took note of the Animal Shelter Challenge; but if you have a chance to post it on FB I bet so MANY people will vote for you!!!! Every day................!!!

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  24. I know this doesn't help you right now but when I have my car paid off in a month or so, I intend to increase my monthy donation to you. I can't physically do anything from Indiana but hopefully others will follow suit and donate to you as well. I am sad every day for the ones I cannot help. Being a cat person and seeing the ones on "Death Row" every day on my facebook breaks my heart every single day but even if you can't help every one of those dogs, the fact is that maybe you are the only person who has ever even given them a second thought or a tear means a lot.

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  25. You are so amazing, Ashley. I am glad that I was able to make a donation to your rescue in December and will try to do so on a regular basis in 2012 and beyond, because you are my hero and inspire me to be a better person also!

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  26. Hi Ashley
    I am so sorry for your situation. I have been thinking of starting a rescue myself. There is so much to do to actually get started. I would appreciate any advice you could give me. i live in PA. I would like to have a no-kill rescue for pitbulls - or any other needy pooches. I realize that it will require much sacrifice and your post really sends that home but those animals need us. They cant do it themselves. I have two rescue dogs of my own and there is no better feeling than when they look at me and somehow they know that they are important and that I would do anything to protect them from any more harm. Any advice at all would be great. I undestand you are extremely swamped now but if you get a chance message me. Thanks, anne

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  27. Thank you Ashley. Acknowledgement of individual donations would be appreciated and at would likely result in continued giving, at least from me.

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  28. I just haven't quite figured it out yet. The more you help, volunteer or do, the more others EXPECT you to do these things. Wouldn't it be sooooooo nice if someone, for a change, would just say "let me help you with that" or "what can I do to help" etc. etc. It would be great if it could be, "I can do that, leave it to me and I will get it done."
    Anyway, Ashley I hope your grandparents are doing well and that you are too.

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  29. I feel your pain. Since people know I volunteer at my local shelter as well as foster cats for a local rescue they think I can always take more on. I have family members calling because they found a tiny kitten in their backyard. I give them advise on how they can find it a home but no thats too much work so they are just going to stick it back outside in the cold so now I feel like I should go help the kitten. Or they call and want me to trap and tame feral kittens when I am already doing that with other cats. I tell them who might be able to help them but no they don't want the advise they just want me to take care of it. The laziness we have in this Country is sickening. "Everything is someone else's problem not mine" is how many live their lives and they should be ashamed. I am a little sad for people like this though. They don't realize the joy they are missing out of by not saving that animal and then seeing how happy the animal and new owners are when they get adopted.

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  30. I love your site, your posts and what you do... Happy New Year! :)

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  31. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can't say more but thank you. You make a HUGE difference in this world.

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  32. Ashly..I feel your pain..I go to Barberra Brennan Healers when I have to!!! They give me great insight into my current/present life issue..Ive learned people treat u the way u ask or let them..Its wierd but its true..Ive learned u have to "receive" and give in equal amounts or u get ill...I ve learned not everyones heart is open and so many people are soooo soo self centered ..I strongly feel theres a lesson here for you..like maybe your giving to much and need to ask for "your" needs to be met..Ask for what you need constantly. And dont let people dump on you or drain you or take take take from you..bounderies! If you go to BBSH web page there s a directory of healers for almost any state and/or country..The two I went to in NJ saved my life I was so drained from giving I was on my death bed and had so much to learn..I hope this helps.

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  33. This applies to many situations in life . The lack of Thank you in this world in general is sad . So many EXPECT so much from others it is shameful. I ALWAYS read and enjoy your blogs , sorry things are so overwhelming for you , prayed for your grandparents and send the best to you in this new year .

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  34. There is so much truth to what you have said. So many times, around here, I'm considered the crazy dog lady or heading that way because it breaks my heart to see one in need. If a stray appears in the neighborhood appears I feel it is my job to at least feed it and try to keep it safe. Hopefully find it's home or one available for it. Went without the central a/c this summer because of not wanting my landlord to know about all my rescue furbabies. am listing this as anon so he still won't find out! Lol! Will be praying for understanding and more people willing to help all of these wonderful extensions of Gods love that need a voice, shelter, and love! God bless you and all you do!

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  35. Wow! Beautifully written! Thank you for ALL that you do to help these poor animals that nobody seems to care about. You are my hero!

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  36. Have faith, people like you are rare but it's people like you that make a difference!!

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  37. This is Ashley. I'm posting from my phone, so I'm not sure if it will show-up as a comment from luckydogrescueblog or not.
    But it's me :)

    I wanted to respond to the comment about acknowledgment of individual donations. I always send thank yous and receipts for donations, because each donation is truly needed and appreciated... more than y'all could know.

    And while I try to get those out as quickly as possible, I sometimes get behind, when things get crazy with work, etc... like here lately. I'm just one person... just trying to get it all done... I don't always get everything done as quickly as I'd like. I'm truly sorry. It's not intentional, I promise.

    If you haven't received a thank you just yet, it isn't because I don't plan to send one. I just haven't had a chance to do that just yet. But I'll take this chance to say an early thank you to anyone I haven't thanked yet. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
    Ashley

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  38. Ashley ur an Angel... i feel ur pain.... God Bless U....

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  39. You are a wonderful passionate person Ashley! You are such a gift to the animals. God bless you.

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  40. You are doing wonderful work Ashley. Not many people are so selfless. Keep up the good work.

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