Rescue Journal

this is for the rescuers out there who might be like me...

Carol  ·  Dec. 5, 2010

i don`t mean that you have to actually be rescuing..or running a rescue like saints. i mean that in your heart of heart you feel inside yourself those intrinsic, deep into your very soul, animal rescuing traits.

it messes us up in so many ways..my ex once said he thought for me it was like some kind of addiction. and that is where it messes us up the very most..in our relationships with others.

i got an email today from a fellow rescuer, asking my opinion on something. and i have been thinking about something i said back to her...about how many friendships i have made and lost in rescue because of the decisions that i have made.

now contrary to what my ex believes..our marriage did not fail because i rescue animals. it failed because we were not a good personality match..the animals were just the straw that broke the camels back..ok...the ton of straw that broke the camels back...but that back was weak for a whole lot of other reasons.

but rescue will take it`s toll on the family relationships that most of us have. a surgeon will always answer his pager, a fireman will run at the sound of the bell and a rescuer will almost always want to choose the animals and if they don`t..they will always feel bad.

the reality remains that hard core, deep down rescuers will always have problems with keeping healthy, holistic relationships..it is the very nature of the game. we love animals, it is in our basic cells... and we don`t know how to (or mostly don`t even want to) turn that deep cellular yearning off.

here is my perspective...
having good relationships with my friends here at saints is easy. we all love these animals, we became friends while loving these animals, we have 130 plus someones to love in common. but...saints builds walls around these relationships..it is kind of like a maze. because the animals are at the core of our friendship and because there are so many of them that we all do so love..they become the only real thing we talk about on a regular basis...oh sure we do talk about other things, like their own animals or other rescued animals, or other animals needing rescuing or animals we saw on TV.....but we rarely talk about anything not relating to animals or rescue to some degree...when we are together it just seems to flow.

i think it is almost impossible to have good friendships with rescuers not associated with the rescue you are with. at some pôint conflict is going to arise..over an animal, over politics, over choosing sides in ongoing battles..because of competition, because of basic philosophies and beliefs, because you cannot always support a friend in rescue who is publically behaving in a not very nice way...because of a thousand other reasons out there.

i have a couple of long term friends in rescue..but we are very careful not to walk on certain roads..we keep an unmentioned and not discussed distance between us so that when we do need each other, we have a safe place to go.

and it is almost impossible to form new friendships in rescue because of one very simple but constant thing. people are forever defining us to others..they are interpeting from their perspective of us to others out there. so even those who have never met...are pretty sure they know someone from what they have heard.

as to personal relationships..a couple of years ago i was teasing folks about me being a plant. that was because i had long ago decided not to ever invest in any deep personal relationships again..i like my life, emotionally it is full between my family and saints. but the assumption was made by a few that because i was alone here...i must therefore be gay. i am not sure how not having a man in my life automatically makes my sexuality suspect. but even that premise was wrong in the first place...if i had really wanted either a male or a female partner in life..i would probably not be alone...being alone did not mean i was gay...and it did not mean i couldn`t find a partner either..it meant i did not care to invest in having one.

anyway..i digress.

relationships are hard for rescuers because of who we are and what we do and where we actually want to be in this life. i think a healthy rescuer actually has to like sometimes being alone. i like my freedom to do what i want, when i want to do it. i like not having to feel guilty because my rescue heart messes up my partners day. i sometimes, but not often... miss having those long time and wide open friendships that shared a hundred things in common..not just one very big one.

but i don`t think i am alone here in this...i think many people in the animal rescue world feel somewhat the same things that i sometimes do.
we don`t like to talk about it cuz really how can you be a healthy person, if you have trouble having normal healthy relationships...and well..i don`t really know..but i truly believe that you can.

it is not that we aren`t capable....it is mostly that we are just too busy or too focused or have too much responsibility and we accept the reality...that if animals are a huge part of your life...other parts of your life might just have to shrink.

anyway.. i was just thinking out loud here, trying to pull somethings together for myself,......it might not actually make a great deal of sense.

Comments

Helga

I always found this prayer by Albert Schweitzer very moving.


A Prayer for Animals

Hear our humble prayer, O God,
for our friends the animals,
Especially for animals who are suffering;
for any that are hunted,
Or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry;
for all that must be put to death.
We entreat for them all thy mercy and pity,
and for those who deal with them
We ask a heart of compassion
and gentle hands and kindly words.
Make us, ourselves, to be true friends
to animals and so share the blessings of the merciful.

Albert Schweitzer

Marisa

It may be comforting to know that people through the ages have felt this way. As Romain Rolland says below about those who would help animals, "he would be thought ridiculous". We must never fear seeming ridiculous because many people before us were labelled thus: abolitionists, suffragettes, etc. Sometimes people reach an enlightened state BEFORE it is fashionable. And the new way of thinking is rarely embraced but, in the end, I truly believe we have the right of it...as Rolland so eloquently states below.

"To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime." ~Romain Rolland, Nobel Prize 1915

Andrea

i appreciate all these comments. i am a rescuer as well, but before i had this self-awareness i got married and had a kid. so i've had to put these rescuing impulses on the back burner somewhat while i raise my child. i am happy though to know there are others out there who prefer the company of animals to that of humans, and are committed to doing something to rectify the harm that we as a species do to the rest of the world. i was always made to feel that it was a personality defect of mine by my family of origin.

Lynne

i just get people who tell me its non of my business when i try to help an animal on my walk as you know i am a letter carrier qnd get shit from my co workers for doing various rescuing things. i tell them that it is my business if an animal is at risk then it is up to me to help them. they all think that i am a weirdo but i really do not care. i have rescued lots of dogs and found them good homes have taken home 2 from my walk taken dead cats off the sidewalk and buried them, dragged squirrels of the road and buried them rescued a bird and took it to elizabeths wildlife center saved a robin in the blazing heat from dying. you do what you have to do it feels really good to help these animals more people should try it they may like it.

Leila

Well I am not a rescuer but my sister and I do live with 6 animals and probably have had 6 to 4 animals who belong to our family for the last 5 years. We do foster mostly dog so can have anywhere up to 4 to 6 dogs in the home along with our cats. Since we began to get heavily into fostering - well honestly since we adopted Patrick in 2001, I have been on one vacation (2 weeks to England for a family wedding). Sheila joined me for 5 of those days. Sheila and I have both discussed this and we both acknowledge that we really don't like going anywhere and we use our animals as an excuse not have to.

I used to socialize a lot more pre animal days either in my home or outside my home. I very rarely do now. That is not because my friends left me but because I left them. I disengaged because, honestly I found I didn't need to be around a lot of people because
animals gave me whatever I needed to feel happy. A lot of people think we do live with more animals that most people but honestly I do not get any negativity from anyone about it either. Most of my non animal friends tell me and Sheila they admire us for our convictions and for finding something we are very passionate about. Usually when people meet up with me, they will usually ask so how many dogs do you have now?

As for my family, yeah they don't quite get it. But in the end they just want us to be happy with our lives and they can see that we are so they basically support us. In the end, most people are not surprised by the choices I have made in regards to helping out and living with dogs and cats as apparently I leaned that way from a very young age even though we only grew up with one dog.

I guess Sheila and I are lucky that we have not had the same negative reaction others have had nor has it affected on our relationship with other people.

We are

Shelley

I was discussing the idea of a career being a 'calling' with a colleague the other day, and I think it applies here. If something is a calling, you are going to find a way to do it. You just have to surround yourself with like-minded people, and unfortunatley others usually fall away. It is similar to when people have children and their friends do not. For most people raising children becomes all-encompassing and time consuming, and trying to keep up with old friends becomes next to impossible. There is nothing that says people can't reconnect later.

Carol Ann

wow all the comments hit home. I love the animals especially the dogs. always have and most of the people in my life have never understood my deep compassion for their feelings. |I can't change the way i feel either and i don't want to. can you imagine where the animals would be if there were no people like us. I say carry on with the good deeds and to hell with the people who don't like it. I much prefer the company of people who care about animals. and i am never alone or lonely there is always a warm body to hug and a beautiful face to kiss. Thank you ,all of you who truly care...

Lisa

I find the biggest frustration for me is everyone and everyone always comments *BUT you have to do something for yourself*.....can they not see that this is what I choose to do for myself. if I was not happy and did not like it, I would NOT be doing it. This is what I do for myself. More often than not it is sad, frustrating and sucks but it is what I liek to do.

I have a job outside of rescue, friends outside of rescue and if I feel the need to do something outside of rescue I will....I almost feel that people guilt me for doing the type of rescue I do.

The most frustrating thing I find is that my extended family always ask why don't I quit, do less, give it up, let someone else do it. I find their words highly offensive. Now, if I were training for the Olympics 17 hours a day or working with starving or orphaned children, they would think it noble and respect what I/our rescue do/does.
It's much like a slap in the face to pretty much hear that they see no value in what you do, despite it being a registered charity etc and to just let it all go. The animals we work with have little to no value or place in their world, thus they are disregarded.....and that realllllllllllllllllllly bugs/hurts me.

So sometimes, extending oneself outside the rescue world isn't easy to do but others have to also understand that a rescue persons passion to do what they do is just as worthy or equally as strong as one who helps in more publically viewed worthy causes.

All of us are good at something and for those who can enjoy what they do, why is there such a stigma or guilt attacehd to it?

Helga

Carol, everything you said makes perfect sense. I am not per se a rescuer. But relationships with friends and family often hit the snag that they want you to do something, go somewhere and you say "Can't. Gotta take care of the cats." Most of them firmly believe that cats don't need much care. Just put out tons of kibble and water and happily off you go for a couple of days or a week. Ain't going to happen. I will go off for a day or two if someone reliable comes in twice a day to see to things and that emphatically includes litter box patrol. In the past 10 years I have been away for two weekends (family weddings) and one hospital stay. Family and friends have gotten quite annoyed. So be it.

Shady

I consider myself a rescuer (not to the same extent that you are but I am a rescuer) and you are absolutely right. Rescuing affects my relationships at every turn. Most don't understand the choices I make in regards to the way that I live and that rescue in my case of cats is a priority in my life. And I don't necessarily ask for understanding, I ask for respect and many don't have that either.

Colleen B

I'm not a rescuer at all and from my own personal experiences, I think you make perfect sense.