I just started a new job as the kennel manager for an animal rescue group called Pawsafe. From the moment I met my boss and heard her talk about this rescue, I knew it was the right fit for me. I could hear the passion in her voice, and it sounded like what I at least think I sound like when I talk about helping animals. By the end of the interview, not only was I offered the job, but I also accepted it and immediately started brainstorming ideas for the kennel. However, as much as I love my job, and no matter how excited I am to be doing it, there are some hardships that come with working in animal rescue.
- The sheer amount of animals we move is crazy, and it should not be a real thing. Last Thursday, we had 72 animals shipped in from a high kill shelter in the south, simply because all 72 of them were running out of time. As soon as we get those 72 adopted to loving families, I can guarantee you that we will have AT LEAST 72 more to bring up to Connecticut. What's even worse is, even though 72 is more than we planned on bringing up, we still had to say no to some! Why are these many amazing animals getting stuck in shelters? It's kind of infuriating to be made so aware of how important our mission is at Pawsafe. But then days like today happen. We had an adoption event today, and we sent home 20 of those dogs, on top of the 5 we sent home yesterday. The fact that we got 72 sucks, but the fact that we have already sent home 28 (3 cats went home) makes the job so fulfilling.
- Sometimes animals come in and they are in bad shape. Luckily, I haven't seen that yet, but I know it happens. And I know when it does, my heart will break. If the little pup doesn't make it, I know my heart will break even more. And as much as it sucks to deal with it, I know it will push me to try even harder to save the next one, and the next one, and so many animals after that. Because they are all worth saving, no matter what it takes, and none of them should die without knowing the love of someone who will give their all to teach them love for however long they need it. I'm dreading the days where I realize I can't save them all, but being able to save any of them is worth trying.
- Selfishly, one of my least favorite parts about my job is that I can't take any of these animals home with me. I'm not supposed to pick a favorite dog, because I love them all, but I definitely bond with some of them much faster than others. The ones that I bond quickly with I would give anything to call mine, but I know that I can't right now. And honestly, that sucks. It sucks getting to know a dog, figuring out how to take care of them, and earning the love of them only to watch them go home in someone else's arms. But then I remember the look on that someone's face the first time they interacted with my favorite dog, and I'm reassured that, even if it isn't with me, the dog is going exactly where they should be going, and now I have more room to rescue even more.
- Although rescue seems like fun and games with puppies, and a lot of the times it is, it's a lot of hard, sweaty, and smelly work. Today, my boss told me that her steps during just a day at the kennel came out to more than 5 miles. Between a small kennel facility and a short walk to the house on the property, she managed to walk over 5 miles taking care of the dogs. I'm pretty sure my car will permanently smell like puppy poop. Today I washed my hair with dog shampoo at the shelter because I got puppy poop, pee, slobber, and who knows what else all over me. It's messy, it's gross, I'm normally sweating throughout my entire shift, and the smell can get BAD. But I think it's the not so glamorous jobs that take the most heart to do, especially to do well and with pride.
My job isn't glamorous. Honestly, it sucks most of the time. I've been known to wash my hair at the kennel because of whatever I got in it, and I've taken dogs home in an attempt to convince my parents that I can get a dog right now. I've cried a little over the ones I loved getting adopted, but they eventually turn into happy tears. I know that I am doing great work at the end of the day, and it makes the sad days okay. It makes the messy days worth it, and it makes the ones we weren't able to save not die in vain. My job isn't perfect, but it's perfect for me.