A couple of days ago I was sad. I was feeling like we are not good enough, our shabby little shelter, our staff and volunteers working so hard. We don't have a state of the art shelter, we don't wear nice matching uniforms, we just wear whatever old clothes can take a beating here. We aren't anyone's idea of a shining example of modern animal welfare with a fleet of feet in a head office organizing the job, here we just wake up and do it, whatever comes.
Tonight as I drove home in tears because we just lost Brooklyn at the emergency clinic, I realized something else.
SAINTS is like a tattered old book and inside that ratty cover is 1000 animal stories. Today Brook wrote her last words on our pages. For 17 years, every single day, year after year we have cared for approx 150 animals either on site or in foster care. There has never been a day of only 20 or 30 or 50 animals on our plate, Every single day we have had over 100 animals to care for on any and every given day. And we couldn't afford a shiny new shelter on any of those days, we were too busy paying for staff to care for them, vets to help them feel well, food, shelter, utilities to light up their buildings and keep them warm, clean and dry. Sometimes I fall asleep designing the shelter of my dreams. But dreams are only good for passing thru the night, not so perfect shelter reality steps in during daylight.
Every wall, door frame, window ledge is banged up and chipped. Almost every square inch inside and out is set up for the animals who live here. We give them donated leather recliners and love seats and beds, we give them donated TV's, we give them a daily army of people who love them and serve them, and worry about them and when they pass away, shed tears for them when they are no longer here.. And we have done that for a thousand animals too old, too broken, too difficult for others to manage. We didn't just take one or two at a time, 100+of them every day have always had really big problems.
A few months ago were parvo puppies, we saved them all. Two weeks ago it was a 4 yr old paraplegic frenchie who needed ten thousand dollars of surgery and today she can walk. Last night it was Brooklyn who suffered a major cardiac event, many thousands of dollars and 24 hours later, we lost and she is dead. Tonight it is Whiggy who is in the ER in a major asthma attack. She will cost a few thousand dollars too and we will worry until we know she will make it thru. But we can pay their medical bills because our army of big and small donors have made sure that we are able to.
But here is the thing, this may be a shabby little shelter, but we do countless really good things, every day. We take in the lost ones, the ones whose needs are too great, we bust our butts to give them a good home which meets their needs and we give them a family here for as long as they need. We can do this because we did a few really smart things, we own this shabby property, no one can make us leave, we found some really good, committed and dedicated people to join our animal caregiving team, and we always, always put each and every individual animals needs as our number one priority.
So yes maybe we aren't shiny enough for new age animal welfare but all the dings and bangs in our paint, the 17 years of 24/7 treating each and every animal like they are our family, no matter what, says that we really do care about every animal's welfare here. We have done this over and over, each one loved, cherished, cared for, homes found or tears when lost, one thousand times, so many times.
Inside these tattered walls are the stories of 1000 animals who made our shabby little shelter their home, some for weeks, some for months, some for the rest of their lives. Today Brooklyn wrote her very last page in her years of SAINTS life.
Today I realized that all of that tattered, shabbiness that I was secretly ashamed of is really just our blood, sweat, laughter, love, dreams, fears and tears, mixed up so beautifully together with theirs. We bought them a home, it isn't a mansion but we filled it with love AND responsible care. We filled it with animals who deserved better from life and found some of that better here.
I will no longer be sad for what we are not, but for Brook and all the 999+ others, I am so very thankful for what we are. We are the tattered servants in a tattered shelter home for tattered and greatly loved animal souls..
Thank you Brook, rest in peace sweet girl.