At times, we will have one, two, then three losses. Maybe even more. A cluster of them. One after another. It can be overwhelming.
Behind the scenes, the staff works tirelessly to provide the best care possible. We have the vets examine our animals multiple times. We run tests, do medication trials, have many conversations with professionals, do rechecks. Sometimes we get second opinions. We do every single thing we can for each of them.
Often, we have to make quality-of-life decisions. This is always done with that animal’s veterinarian. We weigh options, talk about possible outcomes, risks, benefits. We make decisions based solely on what is in that particular animal's best interest.
We are good at what we do, but we can’t see the future, and there are surprises. We are not perfect. At times, all the vetting, charting, and testing in the world don’t show everything. Sometimes bodies change and deteriorate and we don’t know why.
Why do these situations seem to cluster together? There's no one answer. The stress of one animal passing affects everyone. If there is an underlying condition, stress can easily push it up to the forefront. Animals with more than one health problem can rapidly spiral downhill.
In every language around the world, there is a term for this:
When it rains, it pours.
Misfortune seldom comes alone.
Troubles follow troubles.
When crying, stung by a bee.
It’s all true. None of it is fair; it has never been designed to be. One of SAINTS’ long-time volunteers once said that when one Saint passes away, he or she leaves the door open when they go through. Those who are close to the end themselves quickly follow. Now and then, someone unexpected also slips through. We often ask (yes, out loud) whoever was the last one through to please close the door.
This is the reality of a senior and special needs animal sanctuary. Palliative care means specialized medical care that encompasses a patient with a serious condition. Hospice care means care without the intention of a cure. Both focus on optimizing the quality of life and minimizing pain.
This is what we do. Day after day. Year after year.
Sadly, there is no shortage of animals needing sanctuary. After a wave of loss comes a wave of incoming. Because we can’t stop, we can only dream of the day when a shelter like ours is no longer needed. Until then, we ride the waves. Try to hold on, and hope like hell the door closes again soon.