Everyday we are drip fed diverse stories from rescues: lives saved, lives lost, funding needed, funding raised. It is not about the rescuer: it’s about the act, the act of rescuing or gifting a dignified ending. The fact we know little about rescuers themselves pretty much summarises their characters: selfless & altruistic – animals come first. An animal’s heartbeat constantly overrides their breaking one. Two often become one but they still carry on. The moments for both grief and celebrations are momentary as both emotions can quickly replace the other in rescue work.
I often say, there is a rescuer in most of us – yes, even in those who dislike animals.
This week Tesco had Felix doubly delicious for sale for 10:49 and it usually retails at 20. I get many texts from family and friends when they see this reduction as this is a food my rescue cats love and when you can’t afford applaws or one of the better brands, this is a really palatable food they love. So these big shops requires a big trolley, and if I have help: two!
When I got to the till, as per usual, the customer service person will say, ‘how many cats do you have?’ and I will reply my well-rehearsed lines with a few nuggets of ‘the importance of neutering’. Yes, if I wasn’t me, I would tire of myself but being a broken record is the price I will cover to spread the word: neutering prevents unimaginable suffering. I really liked the lady serving me: she didn’t reply ‘WHAT’ in disbelief but she whispered, ‘I hate animals but I wouldn’t cause them harm!’ I told her I was glad to hear that. By the time she swiped the last box, she whispered again, ‘when I go out for my fag break, I bring a bit of milk for the cats out there!’ I told her how we trapped a few of those cats ‘out there’. She ignored that and continued to whisper, ‘…and I bring a bit of ham.’ I whispered back, ‘that doesn’t sound like hate to me!’
Yes, there are so many people I could write about, people – well, all women really, who wouldn’t call themselves rescuers and you won’t know their names, but they have done or are carrying out amazing acts of kindness for animals – rescuing them in fact. Whether it’s short lived or forever – it’s still rescuing.
One lady I know, well, everyday she unties a small little dog and attaches a lead, walks him out of an open-barn, and puts him into her car. She isn’t stealing him, just taking him for a walk or a little adventure or maybe bringing him home for some TLC. You see, before her, he existed, and today, he gets to live a life outside of a barn. She asked his owner could she take him for a walk, and the walks evolved into this ‘full of personality’ dog becoming part of her family. Yes, he has to go back! He has a job to do. But she has changed his world and gave colour to his daily life. Amazing really: how what started as a small act of kindness became a small dog’s daily door into living, not just existing. Last week, they went for a drive to the beach.
My friend in Canada – well, she spotted a collie-mix pup in a rescue in Crete. He wasn’t doing too well in rescue as the numbers are huge and the opportunity for one-to-one time difficult to find. She wanted to give him a chance so that unlike many of the others around him – he would not grow up in a rescue but in a home. A few months ago she carefully planned a journey from Canada to Athens, and with the help of her sister, the rescue puppy arrived from Crete to meet her in Athens. She brought him home and now Charlie is home forever. A Canadian pup born in Crete in Covid times. What a happy puppy ending.
Then there is a lady who everyday day fed a cat who visited her home. Amazing how cats know the homes to pick or maybe like hunting – one out of ten will be a success. Well, it was for this lucky cat. She decided he had to be trapped so he could be neutered and vet checked. Everything was done right: there was no need to rush this: he was part of her world now, she knew his visiting times so the trap could be set first for him to get used to it before it would be set to ‘actually trap’. And so he was and whilst trapping a cat can be stressful for the trapper and the cat: the former feels guilty for causing the fear and the latter is fearful, but it is the emotion to pay for a better quality of life and a longer life: not getting into constant fights if it’s a Tom and not being a kitten machine if it’s a Queen. Less chance of contracting many fatal diseases from fight bites too. So, the day came: he was trapped and both of them headed to the vet. Perfect! But he was a she and she was pregnant. The spare room was quickly converted into a room equipped with everything this ‘mommy to be’ needed. This is not just about one person neutering one cat: this is a story of many kittens not being born who would go on to have many kittens. One neutering job prevents hundreds of kittens being born. And that is an amazing gift to give to those unborn. They will never be born to suffer. There is nothing nice or cute about kittens being born in ditches or derelict houses full of rats or even needles or broken glass. So now there is this sweet mommy to be in her own room being waited on as she approaches kitten birth. This is in stark contrast to the mother cat found in a ditch by MLHR with her kittens – some tangled up in their own umbilical cords. Now imagine if this poor unfortunate cat had crossed paths with this lady in this story.
I know another lady who literally sold everything she had to save some horses. Her house was ransacked by herself: clothes with tags, paintings,jewellery – all sold. They suddenly meant so little compared to the horses facing terrible cruelty – horses her friend was feeding. Her only option was to buy their lives back from a group of men who had no good intentions for them. Yes, she looked for help, but there was no help from the authorities in her area. On the last night before she was to meet them, she realised she was twenty-five euros short of what they wanted. There was nothing left except a cloth bag of a few items she didn’t want to part with. One hour later after posting on Facebook she had a buyer. A hand decorated with gold would only give twenty for what was once priceless to her. She took the twenty. The next day they counted the bundle of money and five euro coins in front of her even though she had done it for them. People who can’t be trusted seldom trust. They tried to persuade her she was actually short of the agreed price but she knew there was nothing left to give and stood up to a group of men who were well known to the Guards. She wasn’t a rescuer, but she wanted to save lives facing a lifetime of cruelty. She did.
When people ask me why I do what I do, these days my reply has changed from my usual reply. Now my answer is this: if I was starving, or tied to a fence, or giving birth in a ditch, or subjected to beatings, I would like to think that someone would try safe me.
None of us individually will ever be able to write the perfect book about rescuing but each of us can help create a rescue chapter, and maybe one day there won’t be a need for a book.
Remember, there is a rescuer in all of us… x