Rescue Journal

we were talking about burnout today.

Carol  ·  Jan. 19, 2014

do you know why folks burn out in rescue? because they overstretch..they give out more than they can emotionally afford and one day it catches up and you have a back log to pay. people talk about maintaining a balance in rescue..home, family, rescue work, and some good old fashioned personal time that is yours and yours alone to spend.

the reason after all of these years that I have avoided burn out is simply because I have actually tailor made my life to be able to support doing rescue to the extent that I do. I have set my sanity barriers if you will.

I have quiet and personal times when no one is allowed here. I have one very small space that is restricted from saints sometimes thoughtless or careless abuse (my personal bathroom.) I know the things that I am required to deal with and I refuse to get dragged into other folks personal issues or agendas if I don't have to.

I don't believe in compassionate fatigue..I don't think anyone can ever get tired of caring about these animals..i sure never do. but I do believe in other kinds of fatigue...fighting, arguing, defending or protecting oneself from all of the weird personal or political inner and outer stuff that continually orbits around rescue...that can wear you pretty damn thin over time.

it has taken me a very long time to learn how to honestly, accurately and concisely define myself in is only about the quality of the work that I do with the animals in my care. the rest is just fluff that blows to and fro depending on the direction and force of the wind. sure shit still irritates the crap out of me but I don't let it take over me...too many animals counting on me to waste too much time and energy goofing around trying to make the sun shine forever on my face...or outta my ass.

I KNOW when I am doing a good job with the animals and I also KNOW when I could or should do better..that is where I try to keep my mind focused... on myself, what I am doing and how the animals feel about it.

I could list a thousand things that I suck at..i could list a thousand things that other people suck at and what does that get me but an overwhelming list of 2000 things that myself and others really suck at. or I can concentrate on the handful of things that I do incredibly sharing my home, my experience, my knowledge and my every day life with one hundred plus senior and special needs animals.

I have always said no one has to be perfect in rescue but we do have to find balance in rescue. I can't balance the woes of the world but I can successfully balance the actual needed intricasies required of me to stay sane and competent in my personal animal rescue world.

I never resent what I freely give but I do sometimes resent what occasionally is unfairly expected or tossed at me and that's when I put down my foot and say I am done wasting time and energy dicking around with petty nonsense stuff...rescue is pretty serious for me.

and that's why I don't ever reach full out and out burn out....I avoid it year after year because burning out is not an option for me and it would quite frankly be devastating to the animals here.



Nicole, I did the same thing with my Lab x of 15 years...I didn't really cry until I got Trev...then I spent days sobbing into Trev's head (he left that way too!! with a wet head!!). With Trev I was ok for a few days then it hit...hard. I think you could be in a bit of shock, denial and like Carol says postponing it until a better time or until your safe...I agree with Carol completely. Not only do you have to deal with deaths at've lost a lot of your own animals over the past few years. I'm feeling for you!! Thanks for your posting.


here is what you are missing Nicole..the tears are there inside you but not ready to yet come out. that is not compassion fatigue..that is being so deeply wounded that you have to hold it together or it will rip you apart.
been sucks...big hug!


I believe in compassion fatigue. It's hard not to working in a clinic where our freezers are often full at the end of the week and over flowing on holidays.
I don't think I'm incapable of compassion for the animals that come through emerg but its getting easier and easier to disconnect.
I'm not sure what it is or why but since last Friday night I haven't cried for Shrek, a couple times of watery eyes but no tears, no feeling blue, nothing at all. I want to grieve for him but I can't seem to. And to me I think I've blocked it out, put it on hold for some unknown reason. And I think that has to relate to me being a little emotionally spent, void, compassion fatigue or whatever you want to call it. I want tears for him but they're not there, of all the dogs I've been blessed with, I want them for him.


I really enjoyed Lola this morning while she visited the barn for a bit. She was pretty excited to play. She kind of reminds me of Al crossed with a bit of lucky. :)