Today I want to take my three dogs and run away. I want to disconnect from Facebook and Twitter and NEVER again hear of another dog in need. I want to forget all of the horrors I have seen at dog auctions and erase my memories from working at Animal Control. I just want to be a normal person again.
I am only 12 years into the profession of animal welfare. I realized yesterday I am burned out. I just spent all of last week surrounded by people like me. People working towards a No Kill world. People trying to dismantle breed legislation. People yearning to “Save Them All.” Sadly, even amongst them, I felt a sense of loss and uncertainty. I think I have been surrounded too long.
No matter how many times I tell myself or how many times others (the normal people) tell me different, I do feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. I feel like if I don’t post that dog on death row, or blog about CACC, I am worthless. I can’t walk by a dog without wondering, “Did they adopt or buy him at a pet store?” I can’t buy dog food without having an anxiety attack wondering what food is the best. I can’t drive by a municipal shelter without wondering what their live release rate is and what innocent dogs are going to die today.
Basically, I can no longer enjoy any aspect of dogs without wondering about all of the bad shit. It is emotionally exhausting. I am desperate to remember what it was like to be a normal person. To be content because I adopted three dogs and not feel the pressure to Save Them All.
I am beyond the concept of adopting more to make a difference. I learned along the way that I, personally, cannot save them all by keeping 100 dogs at my house. Yet, I still am under the impression, that I, personally, MUST do something(s) everyday to be a valuable human being.
I yearn to be the person who dresses up their Shih Tzu (I have one – I bought her at a mill auction. 4 1/2 years a breeding dog) and takes her to a fancy pet store to look for new clothes. Instead, I am the person who blogs about her overused uterus.
I would love to be the person who goes to the dog park everyday to throw tennis balls. Instead, I am the person educating everyone on how I rescued my dog from death row because he had 3 pelvic fractures and the municipal shelter was going to euthanize him.
Often I feel paralyzed by the overwhelming impact we each have on the world. “Don’t eat meat.” “Don’t go to the circus.” “Don’t wear leather.”
I was washing my car yesterday and noticed all of the dead bugs on the windshield. It seemed the perfect analogy to me. I feel like my life has gotten to the point where to save them all, I cannot live. The only way I could have avoided killing all of those bugs (99% of them I never even saw hit the windshield) is to not leave my house and to not participate in life.
I realize that is an exaggeration. Of course, each of us can live a full life while choosing to protect the animals, but at this moment, I feel too overwhelmed to figure it out. I want to clear my head of all the crap I have seen – the dead animals, the bullshit animal welfare politics and start over.
I want to be a normal person who sees animals for the happiness they bring and not the one thousand horrific things I see, such as: death, despair, cruelty, and neglect.
Long before I wrote a book or found myself speaking to legislators, I wore old clothes, often covered in poop, and cleaned cages. I spent hours sitting on concrete floors, cuddling shelter animals and telling them that they deserved a second chance.
My journey took me away from those experiences. I have found myself involved on a much different level surrounded by politics and statistics and the day to day scrutiny of animal welfare practices. Somehow along the way, it became more about “everything” and less about the two eyes with a tail staring back at me.
I want to be mesmerized again by merely hugging a shelter dog. I want to find complete joy in brushing a homeless cat. I want to re-ignite my passion for animals simply by sitting in a dirty dog kennel and feeling like I am saving a life.
I want to start over and be a normal person again.