Monday, June 23, 2014

The Emotional Roller Coaster of Animal Rescue is an Awesome Ride.

I've never been one to promote myself or wax poetic about what I've achieved. Least of all, I rarely advertise my "giving back" in the dog rescue world. A few years ago Dustin and I felt that we needed to volunteer for a cause we really believed in. As a family with multiple interest and activities every other moment of the day it was hard to set aside free time to any organization. That's when the idea of fostering dogs came into play. Signing up as a foster home for doodles was exactly what we could offer, our way of giving back to the greater good without devoting too much of what little free time we had in our schedule. The love and affection we gave our own pack of Doods (at the time, only 2) could be shared with others lost or forgotten along their own journey without much more of our time than pulling a dog from a shelter could take.

What is slated to be a simple addition to our pack seems so easy and frankly is - ideally, but every dood is different and the twists and turns of animal rescue draws you into an emotionally charged state of "what the bleep am I doing?" It can all be madness and insanity until that moment when stars collide and a rescue dood is matched with their forever family and all the ups and downs you experienced with this dog comes sputtering out in smiles, tears and laughter. It's all genuine happiness for the next step in the dood's journey and your heart skips a beat. There's a moment of emptiness at first (typically coinciding with ugly crying), you are in fact losing a piece of yourself when that pup leaves your home but that emptiness is soon filled with joy for the possibilities in their new life and what their new family can offer that you couldn't. You also have a moment when the emptiness is filled with deep breaths and the peace of your life going back to your "norm".

I'm often asked "how do you do it?"- in regards to fostering dogs, "how do you not get attached and keep them all?" I question myself each and every time as to how I am doing it, it's not easy. It's emotionally draining and you become hyper sensitive of animals in need and how you helping other dogs affects your other fur family. It's hard not to get attached, letting go of that bond you've invested so much time building and the trust you struggled to achieve together is extremely hard and unforgiving emotionally. You constantly tell yourself, 'I'll keep my distance and not let myself fall for this one.' But if you are an animal lover in general you can't shut it off, the love spews out of you in buckets of tears when they go off to their new home without you. As far as keeping them all, I would love to if I knew that I couldn't and wouldn't spread myself too thin. With three of my own Doods, I realize adding a fourth temporarily is a lot and its hard at times but it is also not overly pressing on time and resources. It's doable (doodable). If we kept any more as our own I'm not sure we could continue the fostering journey and help more Doods in need. With four dogs in the house you can feel maxed out. It can be draining balancing the needs of my own crew with the sometimes special needs of our visiting furry friends. I am constantly grateful that I can continue doing so. I'm always thankful that I can foster, that I can open my home and heart to another dood in need and that my family is on board. For his part, Dustin is my rock that keeps me grounded and away from the ledge of crazy dog lady and I don't thank him enough for that. As for Kendall, she's a trooper for playing by the rules of "there's a new dog in the house" and you HAVE TO listen to me and she typically gets rewarded with love and cuddles. So back to the how do I not keep them all question, I am constantly reminding myself that if I did - I wouldn't have the room in my heart or home to help so many Doods along the way or my next Doodle in need.

Regardless of circumstance as to how they ended up with me, they each left their paw print on my heart. To all my rescued Doods, I still and always will keep you close to my heart. Ollie (Finn), Checkers, Mickey (Lucy), Max (Bert), Snicker (Muppet), Lloyd & Mona.

To IDOG, Jo, Lynda, Alana, Pat, Jenna and all those involved with the organization - thank you for helping Save the Doodles and for all your support along the way. It's an incredible journey and I'm so glad to be a part of this crazy roller coaster called animal rescue.