Sometimes you have to keep trying till their last breath is stolen from them and you. . .
Lately my defiance and stubbornness to not give up becomes quickly replaced by an unfamiliar apathy and acceptance. There is no conscious choice; it just happens. It’s a ‘lately’ thing. I’m hoping I can resume my defiant state full-time soon. Apathy is my idea of ugly.
My heart was broken yesterday when my sister rang me to say that Joey had died at the vets. Joey was a very ill kitten but after his first appointment and getting what he needed, I decided he was going to live. No, it is not a God Complex; it is simply wanting a kitten to grow old, and everything in between. But in rescue, there are no magic wands. He was the best patient and accepted all the food syringe gave him. And so began a tug of war between life and death. The latter won. I loved him very much.
So many kittens are born in this country every year; so many suffer the pain and fear none of us as adults could bare. Throughout the last few days before being admitted to the vets, he never stopped purring. And in an effort to not being alone he would jump out of his bed and face the door to walk out with me everytime I left his room. When you feed an ill animal or a person and as you watch them eat or drink, hope is generated…because if they are eating they are getting better and feeling better.
My mom would always come armed with tea and biscuits every time my heart was broken or was upset about one of those teenage ‘why me’ issues! When made with love, tea is like a magic potion. By the time you reach the end of the cup, you often feel better. A rescue friend must have sensed my need for comfort during the week as she left the most perfect home-made pie in a vets for me to pick up. With every mouthful I was transported back to a time of home baking and that familial safe feeling. I wish I had appreciated home more and the person who made where I lived a home. It reminds you how a home is more than bricks and mortar; it is the people or a person who makes it so. I think Joey ate because he really wanted to be better; he didn’t feel like eating.
As I type this I’m thinking how as humans we can be so alike and so very different. Some of us will do so much to alleviate suffering and there are those who cause so much suffering – and they don’t even see that it is suffering they create and maintain. Like the 13 year old collie I saw for sale on done deal – her life now is chained in a barn. I just think of slavery when I see chains and yet people post these pictures without any shame and sometimes we see them and accept them as normal for some animals. What is one person’s wrong is another persons right; what is one person’s treasure is another person’s rubbish. How complex we are? And back to apathy. I told my friend the other day how I couldn’t react when another friend told me a very upsetting case involving (yet again) a pig. I think of what Pete the Vet said last week about pigs being as intelligent as dogs and treated so badly in terms of their needs not being met. What must they go through when they have the ability to process the way dogs do; what must they go through when they crave mental stimulation and yet are kept in dark sheds; when they need a dry bed and yet they are on concrete; when they need water and yet they just have just a food bucket, and the only company is their own shadow and breath. What happens when all their needs are denied to them? What would happen us if locked in darkness for our entire lives? As I type this I feel the emotion of anger but my usual proactive reaction is not coming forth. I often fear neither the law or danger when it comes to animals in need. But on this occasion I’ve asked a fellow rescuer to help the pig. I’m so afraid apathy will take over. Yes, I’ve actually said the words ‘I can’t watch it’ when my friend went to show me the video of the poor pig. Usually I grab the phone and take it in and I feel every emotion the animal suffering feels. But during the week I didn’t want to feel at all. When another friend told me she hadn’t seen a horse I feed in her field, I drove by the field and couldn’t look in the first time I passed, because I didn’t want to see that she was no longer there. Maybe this is compassion fatigue. It has been lingering for a while; perhaps it gets better before it gets worse! I’m sure it’s passing. Because there are places and people I need to face again for the animals’ sakes. In some cases I think it is the people I dread facing.
Over the last few days I’ve heard the new commissioner of the guards speak on the radio. His voice is assertive but compassionate and he is full of understanding for ‘what is’ but aware of what has to change and you get a feeling of the impact his ‘mindful punch’ could have. I got a chance to shake his hand during the week and I wished him well in his new position; part of me didn’t want to let go until I mentioned the many times guards have dismissed their role they should play in animal welfare and I wanted to tell him of a guard who went out of her way and changed the future of one dog I fed. When faced with a ‘legal wall’ as we stood facing the dog that looked at her waiting to open his gate, she thought outside the legal box of limitations to get him out of a place where he was absolutely miserable. But with an army of minders and PR people, I reluctantly let go of his hand before I started my wish list for animals in need. Asking him ‘do you want to grab a cuppa?’ didn’t seem quiet appropriate!
Some people may not have magic wands but they have the potential to create change for both people and animals and for those that are suffering – any change is magic to animals suffering. Even the slightest change: a bed, a shelter, food, or maybe company can make a big difference to their daily lives. I know so many rescuers that make the impossible happen and they leave you saying ‘how did they do that?’ Life is not a fairytale until we as people make it so. We have the power sometimes to create the ‘happy ever afters’ – some people have the legal powers to do so – if only they all used it when it comes to animal welfare! And that is why it is so important we get to the AFAWI March on October the 4th – to plant the seeds for a lasting change. Without numbers, a voice for animals is a mere whisper on the state platform; with a large gathering, it becomes a roar!
The Thanks: Thank you to Rhona from An Cat Dubh for taking in Othello — a ginger boy who has spent a week crying outside my house! His poor head opened up from scratching as a result of ear mites. When the trap failed, I sat on the ground with ham until he could resist no longer and it was akin to a rugby tackle to catch and pick him up when he got closer. Thank you to Pat who is taking in four of my rescues and the pigs Rhona is minding. How do you repay these people who do so much? Thank you to Johanna who paid money off my vet bill and to Rebecca for buying litter trays. Thank you to Rose who is giving me cat food for our growing foster numbers. Thank you to a good friend who gives so much to rescuers. She collects money and puts it in a big cracked jug to share amongst rescuers. I thought the other day how something so broken can give so much! It’s magical!
Finally, thank you to the animals in my life who every morning wake me with so much love and enthusiasm for life! We could learn so much from them: imagine greeting people we know with the same endless love and appreciation!