of which i am so terribly afraid. and there is a really good reason for this..the second i am viewed as a real nut case, there goes my credibility, there goes any possibility to make a positive change. all of the work we have done, all of the value in being themselves that animals might have gained goes flying right out the window, the minute i am regulated to insane.
if i had a pristine, tradional shelter with the animals packed into sterile stainless steel cages with pretty little blankets and toys in their beds and a couple of nice walks every day...if i locked the door at 5 pm and turned off the lights and went home to a regular home and left them alone for the night....THAT people could understand.
but living here with them, letting many of them sleep on my bed, feeding them girl guide cookies and pizza, giving them movie nights...letting them pee and poop on my floors a hundred times a day??? taking them for walks thru the mud and pond and letting them roll in horse poop and bring that mess right back in the house again???
no one cares that we clean it up..it is weird that we even think it is ok. i live with approx...30 dogs and 30 cats inside my house...many are incontinent, many of them are sick, some of them look with their skin issues kind of gross...even if they look better than they did.
its not normal. it is not the way it is acceptably done, it is hard to wrap your head around....it is kind of crazy.
the thing is...i don't feel crazy unless i compare myself to what others expect. it is just me and them and what they need and how i can give it to them.
i think it is crazy to rescue an animal and then stick them in a cage...they do not like this. it upsets them. why would i want them unhappy?
i think it is nutz to kill an animal because their bladder happens to leak...give them a nice area to live in where it is easy to clean up. i think it is odd to have a dog whose feet rarely touch the ground. they like running in fields and rolling in poop and barking their faces off chasing sticks into the pond.
i think a homeless dog appreciates sharing your bed, it must make them feel a little less homeless and a little more loved instead.
i do think living with 30 cats and 30 dogs all in one space is a bit much...i would like to live with about a dozen of each. but...if i kept to a dozen, where would the other ones go? if there is only a few of us to take so many how many times can we say no.
so...even tho i don't like it...i push the envelope...i squeeze in one more about to die who has no where else to go. i don't regret tony..he needed the meds that we know to give...i don't regret little maggie who came in from TG today..she needs palliative care which i happen to know a lot about. i don't regret winter or diablo because they are such really nice cats, who cares if they are missing body parts..they think they are just fine.
but what i think is a good thing for these guys, is viewed as a rule as crazy.
and here is the other thing..it is personal for me. these guys share my bed, my dinner, my laughter and tears. it is what makes it good for them here. and in order to share them with the world so maybe thoughts about aging and illness might change...i have to share my personal life too...staff, volunteers, visitors and camera crews get to see where i sleep and who i sleep with. they get to see that beagle poop on my floor or the ringworm dog on my bed. they can see that fruitloop cat spray my wall if they look at the right moment in time. they can see the 101 diabetic syringes in the bowl on my dresser next to the stacks of medical food and other various meds.
they see i have no animal free space..that i in fact live in an animal shelter that even on the cleanest days still smells like 61 bodies live here.
my daughter brought out her high school students and some of the teachers today for a tour. the kids like playing with the cow, the pig and the goat. they like freaking out when a horse goes pee or a llama has a poop. they have a good time here and then they go to rocko's for a two pound hamburger for lunch.
she asked me last night not to let them know that i live here..she said she gets it and she is really proud of what i do. but they won't get it and she doesn't want to try to explain it to them because she doesn't know how.
what she didn't say was...she wants them to like me because she loves me and she doesn't want them to think i am weird.
so i just skipped the bedroom part of the tour and left it at that.
"i don't know how you do this"...i hear it a hundred times a week...and no one really knows how i do this...it is easy, i do it because it feels right to me.
i told the producer today that i lied yesterday..i couldn't just ignore it and hope it went away. today i am ashamed not because angel has ringworm and lays on my bed... i am ashamed that i felt i had to lie about it to protect myself from what other people think.
i think everyone should think like i do...if they did, there would be no homeless senior and sick animals in need. but they don't and there's the rub..i live the life i do because society as a whole does not think like me. and i want it both ways...i want to do the work i do that is so different in every respect than most folks can even conceive AND i want to be considered "normal" while i do it so no one thinks i am crazy.
i never want to be thought of as a saint that just makes me feel squirmy...but i do want to be thought of as sane... there is some dignity in sanity.