Rescues are the New Crack – How to Prevent Animal Burn-Out

deskcollage

Helping rescue animals is addictive.  It’s not too hard to figure out why. Seeing an animal go from frightened and abused to happy and well-loved is an incredible high. When you think about how many there are still needing help, and how few there are of you, it’s easy to start over-extending yourself. And as well-intentioned as this may be, you’re no good to anybody if you run yourself ragged. Consider this post your guide to avoiding dogaholics/cataholics anonymous and ending up on Animal Hoarders.

Time: The more animals you take in the more time it takes up; walking, cleaning, grooming, playing, training, vet visits and more. If your circle of friends starts to fade away, or you find yourself neglecting other important duties, consider scaling back the number of animals in your house at one time. Consider also that you have to divide your attention between all these animals as well as your own. Ask yourself – is everybody getting all the one-on-one time they need to be well-socialized and emotionally healthy? How about your lover/roommate/kids? If somebody comes to you asking for cuddles or other attention, are you  able to accommodate them?

Money: If you lose your house or can’t pay the rent, where will the poor little dears stay? Make sure you’re not donating so much of your money that you have none left to sustain a reasonable lifestyle for yourself. If you haven’t yet used up all of your free time, consider organizing a fundraiser instead. This is something you can do with friends and family too, which is great because chances are they might kind of miss you by now.

Sanitation: Are the animal beds laundered, the floors washed and vacuumed, and the yard clean, or is the whole thing starting to become a smelly poo-filled mess? Sanitation is extremely important for both you and your critters, so if things are starting to get out of hand you need to take a step back and get things back under control. Nobody wants to get rescued from one filthy house only to end up in another. Clean that shit or scale back your rescue efforts.

Emotions: Yes, it’s an amazing feeling when your foster pet finds their loving forever home. But it can be a painful one, too. Consider it your heart’s growing pains. If you’re not careful it could break. Your animals want you to be happy just as much as you want them to be, so make sure you’re able to keep yourself in a positive state of mind, for their sake and yours. Sometimes you just need a bit of a break, and that’s ok!

For anyone devoted to helping animals in need, you are amazing and I thank you. Let’s support each other by making sure we’ll be able to continue doing so for as long as possible.

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Lulu 2006-2014

It was yesterday, on February 5th that the world lost a very special little dog. She touched our hearts and saved lives, and even in death she will continue to be a force of good in the lives of dogs in need.

Lulu was raised in a puppy mill in Missouri, the state with the highest concentration of puppy mills. There she was injured and abused and learned to fear, but her spirit could not be crushed. She came to us at the end of August 2012, and we instantly knew we had to be the ones to give her a real home and show her what love is. For the entire time she was with us we were dedicated to this, and lived for the moments when she was happy, which had finally become frequent after we started fostering dogs.

I remember sitting on the floor with treats trying to get her to come close to me, but needing to slide them to her because she wouldn’t come. I remember when she was so scared about me picking her up that she peed. And I remember when the call went out for foster families from the rescue we had adopted her from. Her life changed then. Because we felt she would be lonely if unable to fully be comfortable with us, we gave her many friends this way, and she loved every one of them. We saw her smile, wag her tail, jump and play. The last one she knew, Ben, was one to whom she could return the favor.

Lulu had always had dental problems. Because papillions are a breed that requires more dental attention than most, and her proper care had been neglected for so long. On Friday the right side of her mouth started to swell, and we noticed she was experiencing some discomfort. Under anesthesia, during dental work on Tuesday, her jaw broke apart as a tooth was removed, one of only a few she had remaining. Under X-ray it was revealed she had bone cancer. The vet was amazed she had been eating normally, because under the circumstances it was evident she must have been in a lot of pain. But she never showed it. Lulu was an extremely strong little girl. She could live through almost anything. She had a joyful attitude and no matter what life threw at her she just kept going. But now it was time to end her pain. Bone cancer in dogs simply does not get better. Because this was discovered under anesthesia, she never knew her jaw had broken. She never had to be bottle-fed and didn’t have to linger in pain for months. Finally this sweet little girl could be free.

Our lives are now dedicated to fostering and helping animals in need. Lulu inspired this and we will continue to do this for the rest of our lives. We will miss her dearly but her memory will live on in each dog that, because of her, gets a second chance. We were so blessed to have her in our lives, even though our time together was short. It wasn’t fair that she had to suffer so much. We hope that through her this suffering can turn into something good, so that suffering in others is prevented. Lulu was an angel, and is now even more so.

Please consider fostering or supporting an animal rescue. Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely, for that one dog the world will change forever. Rest in peace, little darling.