Hello dear friends. As I drift between this modern age and my own beloved Victorian Era, I have been gifted with the opportunity to make a great many friends along the way. Some of those friends are involved in animal rescue, in one form or another - whether they work in the overburdened shelters that do their heroic best to care for the unwanted and discarded animals of the various communities around the world, or they volunteer with one of the millions of animal rescue groups that struggle tirelessly to find homes for the same poor creatures. Knowing that I myself was a rescue at a very young age, I have often been privy to the frustrations these same friends have expressed when, time and time again, people adopt animals only to bring them back to the same shelter or rescue because the animal had 'problems'. It is a vicious cycle; one I feel needs to be addressed by a voice of experience, and who better to do so than one who has been among those many discarded souls.
Rescuing an animal is a very emotional experience, on both sides, and the more tragic the creature, the more emotion that is obliged to be involved. How can our feelings not be entangled in such a moment? There are bound to be feelings of injustice at the neglect we see. Often there is righteous anger in the face of the abuses we witness. There is most certainly an understandable drive to protect a creature that is fragile and vulnerable, and intermingled within it all are the feelings of compassion, pity, helplessness, and even guilt at being unable to prevent atrocities from occurring. These are just some of the many emotions that can strike the human heart at the precise moment when a person sees the liquid eyes of an animal in need. They are driving forces which can inspire great acts of kindness and heroics, and such emotions are necessary at times to help overcome the horrors associated with the environments that require an animal to be rescued in the first place. Without such driving forces, a rescuer might not be able to face the darker side of what happens when animals find themselves in the hands of evil, despicable men.
We all celebrate the happy moment when a rescued animal is restored back to health and finds what we hope will be his or her happy ending, but there is one very important fact we sometimes overlook in our enthusiasm. Animals that need rescuing are often broken creatures that very likely have never known real love, kindness, or safety. When a person so lovingly adopts them, they are not just taking on the responsibility of feeding, loving , and caring for their new pet in the physical realm; they are also taking on the lifelong commitment of taking care of their new pet's emotional needs, whatever they may be. It basically boils down to accepting whatever baggage comes with the adoption of that pet.
We all have baggage. As a matter of fact it is a common joke in this modern era of yours. In the case of an animal rescue, not only is the baggage very real; it is invisible, and in most cases the new owner must unpack it blindly and with great care. Unfortunately, your new, adorable, traumatized pet can't tell you how he feels or why he is doing the 'naughty' things he is doing. All your new pet can do is feel the raw fear and uncertainty. The more impatient and frustrated you are when your new pet piddles on the floor, chews on something they shouldn't, or exhibits anxiety or uncertainty, the worse those feelings are going to be for your new pet and the more broken they will become. The more broken your new pet becomes, the more the issues will manifest themselves.
The reality is, rescuing isn't about how good it makes you feel. Rescuing is about saving a life and about making a commitment to a broken, fragile heart. It is about making an unspoken promise that you won't injure that heart any further. When you take your little one home, it must be done knowing it will take patience, love, understanding, forgiveness, more patience, and even more love to get that little soul to a point where they can feel safe, loved, and begin to trust again. It might take weeks, months, or even years to help your little one work through whatever issues they might face. Some 'problems' may be resolved immediately and some may not, but you have to be willing to accept there will be bumps in the road before you even take the first step down the path of rescuing an animal. You owe it to yourself, but more importantly, you owe it to the animal you might consider taking home. To bring them into your home and your heart only to return them back to the shelter or rescue is almost as great an injustice to their hearts as the one that put them there in the first place. Rescuing an animal should never be taken lightly.
Remember something before you decide to walk away from an animal because they are too difficult to manage or have too many problems. You may think you are absolutely wonderful and without flaw, but guaranteed, you have baggage too. One thing you will never experience when you are loved by an animal is rejection because of your baggage or what's in it. In your pet's eyes, you will always be loved; you will always be perfect, even when you are not; and you will always be welcome wherever they are. As a matter of fact, it is what they live for. You are what they live for, baggage and all.
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