I wanted to share the answer to a question that I often get from those who peek into the world of rescue and wonder “why do you do it?” I often struggled to find the words to answer that very legitimate question and I was fortunate enough to come across an “answer” that someone had already penned. As I read it I said (to myself), “wow, it is as if she wrote that for me.” And so now, I share it with you in hopes that you too understand “why I do it”. And for those of you who struggle to articulate that which you know to be true in your heart, it is my hope that you too can share this “answer”, or a variation of it, with those who ask a similar question of you. And maybe, just maybe, our passion will ignite a fire in another who can help us in our quest to “save them ALL.”
Someone asked me recently, why do I do it? Why do I put myself through the stress, the heartache of rescuing dogs when so many die anyway? Some people even have gone as far as to say rescuers just concentrate on death. They ask “why don’t you just focus on the nicer subjects of dogs – doggie fashion shows… adopt-a-thons… competing in obedience, things like that?” I thought about it for a while, and this is what came to me.
I would love nothing more than to promote the fun things with dogs. Believe me, I would REALLY, REALLY LOVE to do that. And there was a time when I did. Hell, there was a time I wanted to start my own show kennel. (UGH!) But that time coincides with the time when I thought that WAS all there was to dogs. I was ignorant.
I rescue. I spend all my money, my valuable time with my own dogs, everything on rescue. Rescue is hard. Rescue is sad more times than happy. Rescue is tiring. Rescue is not pretty. Rescue is expensive. Rescue is physically, mentally, emotionally, financially draining. Rescue will shorten my life. But sometimes, it’s not how long you live, but what you do with the time you have that matters.
On rescuer’s worst day, it is STILL better than it is for them. Imagine what it’s like to be them. Imagine, REALLY imagine what it’s like. To be at the whim of whoever claims you as their own.To have to accept when they do not feed you. To accept that you did something wrong when they beat you, even when you have no idea what it was you did. To accept the neglect, and still greet them when they are near. To accept being put in a concrete cell with other dogs like you, screaming to be out. To not know where you were going when someone came and took you out of that cell — will it be the yard outside in the sunshine? or will it be the small room in the back that no dog returns from? Imagine kissing the hand of a stranger, in hopes that they will take you away from all this… imagine that….. REALLY imagine that.
So why do I cry over and over and yet still come back…” when the last hundred dogs I posted, shared, transported, donated to were still put to sleep? Because of the one dog that WILL make it out. That WILL get a new start. That WILL be brought “back to life”. That will know again, or perhaps for the first time, sweet love. There is no more comforting feeling in the world than to see a dog FINALLY safe.
So I say to you, I do not “focus” on death, my friend. I focus on LIFE! The life of that one in a hundred dogs that, if I didn’t do what I do, would be dead. I will worry about my health, my financial future later. Right now, it is about them. And my only regret for being in rescue is that I did not act on the NEED earlier in my life. And my only hope is when I am gone, there will be someone to take my place. My promise to that person is this – I will be with you in spirit from wherever one goes when the breath leaves the body. Because I will ALWAYS be a rescuer, even when I am just a memory. – Excerpted by Ellen McNeely-Paquin • 19 April, 2011
Founder of LGAR