Rescue Journal

there is a greatness to saints....

Carol  ·  Feb. 2, 2014

sometimes I think our greatness is in these millions of moments in my mind when someone like Jeanette was near the end of her life. i see these moments like when the fire department was pulling her out of the mud and carrying her to solid ground, the 25 or 30 volunteers who carried her again to even softer more comfortable ground, mo, cuddles and I wrapped up in blankets to sleep on hay bales out in the field to be there if she needed, Angelina sitting with her under a shade shelter keeping her from getting overheated by wiping her down with wet cool cloths, the tears we all shared with percy as she was helped to peacefully pass out of this life and even the rebuilding of the beach around the pond so no other 1500 pound senior animal would get mired there ever again.

and I see our greatness in less significant ways too...a small group of us gathered together to turn and change crash and freshen his bed. someone washed, dried and folded the fresh linens so that they were there waiting for when he needed them. someone took the wet and soiled bedding away to wash, dry, fold and put away for another animal's use.

there is a simple yet single minded purpose here to provide comfort and care. it is a commitment that we all gather together and share. we come from many different places, we have experienced many different lives but the common ground we all walk on is a deep commitment to allievate suffering in animals lives.

there is a greatness in this, this ability to set ourselves and our lives aside for the moments in time when an animal or many animals need us.

these is also a greatness in the animals here...crash's patient and gracious acceptance that his end is looming near. pac's willingness to accept this new and far different life, past black buddy's embracing of a suddenly nutured and cared about life.

phoebe is not weight bearing on one of her back legs tonight...I am not sure what has happened, I just know she is in pain. I gave her some metacam and tramadol and hope she will soon feel better again. there is a greatness even in phoebe whose head is so full of conflicting thoughts and emotions that she sometimes drives both me and herself insane. and yet phoebe continues to get up and meet every single new and challenging day with an enthusiastic willingness to continue to participate.

it hit me when I was driving home from work tonight, that I am blessed to be surrounded by greatness. the greatness reveals itself in various ways...a full shelf of clean laundry, a bowl of water gently held for an end of life dog, some kind and cheerful words to a princess pig, a clean litter box or a bowl of canned food or a handful of treats to a patiently or not so patiently, waiting cat. sometimes that greatness is discovered in large and soul bending ways, like it was the day that 30 individual people picked up a cow and carried her 300 feet so she could lay for her last few days somewhere soft and safe.

it has been almost a decade of living within the arms of saints greatness of heart.

I am not sure when surrounded by such greatness why sometimes I get lost. and I am not sure what to do about it except try not to drag myself down with my own negative feelings and thoughts.

there is a greatness to saints that if I open my eyes widely and breathe in deeply I can feel right to my is in the animals and it is in all of the humans, including myself, who have come together each day for one single purpose, to live the day better than it was before for almost 1000 senior and special needs animals.

I think that is what makes saints so great.



This post made me think of an article I read a long time ago, it was written by Susan O. a volunteer at a shelter. I located it again so reposting for others

Breaking the Heart - Wide Open

Hi Ken, I noticed on the calendar that it is National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week (rolls right off the tongue...). With a nod toward that, I thought it might be fitting to share with you some thoughts I had about my work at PHS. The questions I am often asked by curious animal lovers about my volunteer work have provoked some thoughts that have been knocking around inside my head for a while. I felt compelled to finally expel them to a piece of paper.

I feel quite privileged to volunteer at the shelter, working with the dogs waiting to go up for adoption. My purpose is to be a sort of bridge, to get them from their current situation to a better place. What it takes to get them across that bridge is unique for each dog. I have learned to be a pretty good listener as they tell me what they need.

The successes -- seeing them trot off to a new life with a loving family -- are golden. The failures are too painful to discuss. Over the years I have been asked countless times "How can you volunteer there -- doesn't it break your heart?" It has taken me years to excavate the answer from the recesses of my heart, to understand and articulate it.

These shelter dogs -- the world's castoffs -- with seemingly nothing to call their own, shower me with gifts. All it takes to unleash their generosity is a flicker of eye contact and a deluge of emotion rushes toward me. In their desperation for a piece of my world, they drag me into theirs. I go happily. For when the daily insults and injuries of belonging to the human world have turned my heart into a cold, hard nut of resentment, impenetrable to anyone with thumbs, they can break though. Such is the power of dog love.

In the chaotic environment of the shelter the emotions of our encounter are flung around at high speed, like a blender with the lid off. They don't just demand I be in the present, they lift me above it. The cold, the damp, the noise, the dirt -- they barely matter. It's not until I've returned home that I discover bruises and scratches that I have no recollection of getting. Their demand for "now" rescues me from the ceaselessness of the inside of my head. How ironic -- these confined shelter dogs rescue me from the world, from myself.

Yes, there are difficult days. But no matter what I feel when I am there, it pales in comparison to what they feel being there. One more reminder to leave myself behind -- it's about them, not about me. One more step out of my world and into theirs. You can't really give without letting go first. Then the giving gets easy.

My human baggage doesn't stand a chance against them. I think they are utterly hilarious, even when they appear to be doing nothing. I don't just love dogs; I love everything about them. How when they sniff your face they always snort when they get to your ear. How they are completely devoid of self consciousness when they eat. How they continue to dribble water long after they finish drinking, but not before they put their chin on your lap. How they have never asked the question 'Does this fur make me look fat?' How no one is less qualified or more determined to help me tie my shoe than a puppy. Each one is a little gold mine in the currency of love. I strike it rich over and over. The truth is that we lift each other up. They can go from despair to pure joy in seconds. For those dogs for whom the despair is too great, paralyzed by fear and bewildered by their situation, it's my job to console and heal, to convince them that the world is not such an awful place and in doing so I remind myself, as well.

So back to that question, how can you volunteer there -- doesn't it break your heart? The answer is yes, it does break my heart... wide open.

janet nicholson

Don't ever forget that all of you at S.A.I.N.T.S. are great! You pull off miracles all the time - you make people want to do more for the animals - and it is obvious when you need them - they are there!


That made me tear up ALOT and I don't cry... SAINTS is such a happy and safe place for me - and it's because I realize that every single soul there is happy and safe.

Beautiful words from a great lady.


I am always in awe of the greatness that surrounds me when I am at SAINTS...


Yeah, that made me "tear up" a bit - You have a way with words that puts everything in perspective .... and I don't know what happened to Phoebe - she was fine when I left at 1pm; I hope she will be ok.
I just need to say that Pac is absolutely gorgeous - a beautiful boy; really happy to meet him today - and China is sweet too. Oh, and thanks to Mo for helping me get Luna back in the house. I was so afraid she would jump the fence. Nice to have a "go to" person around to help another "go to" person! Good people around today all contributing to the "greatness" - I really felt that. Thanks for allowing me to be a very small part of it Carol.