It has been occurring to me more and more lately that I am failing the mission of this blog in not one, but two ways, and I think it’s time to address my shortcomings! Tune in tomorrow to hear about how I am being a poor pit bull advocate. For today though, I want to talk about how I am not being the best foster/rescue advocate I could.
So here’s the deal: lately quite a few people have made a variety of different comments to me that all allude to them feeling as if they just can’t make a difference themselves. These comments have also lead me to believe that they think of any of us “rescuers” as more than just average people. Since the ultimate reason I started this blog was to show that if I could do it, anyone could, this is very upsetting to me! I know I just talked about some of the easy ways to make a difference so rather than reiterate those, I think I should tell you a little more about myself and just how average I am, which is the case for nearly anyone involved in rescue! Not a single one of my “rescue” friends has a special degree, millions of dollars in the bank, or some secret knowledge that’s not available to the rest of the world. Just big hearts.
Growing up we always owned at purebred Labrador. My dad is an avid hunter and felt (I use the past tense because I am quite certain that at this point he would never, ever dare to buy a dog again) that purebreds were the way to go. I believe I was six when I found my first stray dog and thankfully my parents allowed us to keep her. I named her Corky and loved her more than anything in the whole wide world. I was perfectly content to sit on the couch with her and read book after book. Which reminds me, my favorite book was Shiloh even though it made me cry, which I hate to do. We were inseparable and thanks to her I learned at a very young age that there are people out there that don’t consider their pets family and will just dump them. It was almost more than my little brain could handle.
My mother worked extremely hard as a stay-at-home mom and my father managed a restaurant. I probably don’t need to spell this out, but we were not exactly rich in the monetary sense. If you count afternoons spent exploring the woods behind our house, swimming, and climbing trees as rich, we were loaded! I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I started working when I was 14 and bought my first car with money I had saved all on my own at 16. I swam on the varsity swim team and then worked after school. If I wanted gas in my car, food out with friends, or any clothes more than the roughly two outfits my mom bought us each school year, then I needed to earn the money myself.
I decided to graduate a year early and moved out when I was 17. I started college, and my family moved from Nebraska (where I grew up for the most part) to Florida. I worked four jobs (simultaneously) to support myself, changed majors countless times, adopted Buddy, and ultimately followed my family back to Florida right after my 21st birthday. I ended up taking a couple of years off and finally graduated with a degree in Accounting–while working full time, bartending on the side, training for a marathon, and right before graduation, fostering my first dog.
I love nothing more than a good book or a scary movie. I much prefer to spend a night at home than out on the town. My favorite color is blue. I can kill a houseplant faster than anyone I know. I hate to compliment myself, but am proud to say I can cook as well as any 4 star chef, and I have a secret cookie recipe that friends literally beg me for. I have 8 tattoos and am likely not done. I love my dogs as fiercely as if I had birthed them myself.
I used to think choke and prong collars were acceptable “when properly used”. I never crate trained a dog until I started fostering. I allowed Buddy to lapse on heartworm preventative for probably a whole year at one point. I am a mediocre-at-best trainer because I am impatient and always want to see immediate results, even though I know better. Sometimes my dogs frustrate me so much that I can’t help but yell at them. Often times I read a story or hear a statistic that makes me break down in tears, feel completely defeated and helpless, and I will sit for hours convinced that nothing I can do will ever make a difference. The problem is just too big.
But then I think of the ones that I have helped. I remind myself they are alive because I refused to accept defeat. If I never help another dog again, the nights spent crying on my couch will be worth it, because of stories like this. I am normal. I am average. I have never been “handed” anything (aside from great morals) as one person stated “I must have been.” (I mean really, that’s just rude!) I am just one of the thousands of people that choose to help be part of the solution, and I started this blog to try and show that. Do you see just some of my faults now? Please, do not put me or anyone else that helps animals, up on a pedestal. We are incredibly far from perfect. We are simply doing our best to do the right thing when we can. Even if you only ever adopt one dog in your life, you have made just as important of an impact as anyone else! I promise you, if I can do it, truly anyone can as well. You just have to want to. You CAN do it.