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Friday, October 7, 2011

Where Am I?

I am tired. 

Having experienced some personal tragedies, as well as some rescue related tragedies and dilemmas, I am mentally and physically exhausted.  I am shocked that I have let the blog set idle for this long, as it is my therapy, and my friend, but even now I am stretching to find something to write about.  I feel as though I owe people an explanation of where I am and why I have been silent.

I am tired.

Rescue burns people out.  It burns people out emotionally, physically, and financially.  It can do so quickly.  I am not at my breaking point, so do not interpret this as a retirement letter.  But I am tired and our work seems futile in the grand scheme of things.

Rescue people learn to focus on the eyes of the animals within their care to keep them going on a day to day basis.  I feel as though I cannot focus on that one face anymore.  I am distracted.  There is too much I cannot do, and the job seems undo-able.  The scale of what needs to be accomplished in order to protect animals is astronomical and feels completely out of my hands as an individual.  I feel like a salmon swimming up a never ending stream with a current so strong I cannot make it to the destination I seek.  I feel my contribution is just an insignificant drop in that stream.

I am tired.

I am trying to focus on gaining my health back by working out, eating better, and having conversations with friends that are unrelated to animals and rescue.  I am trying to focus on the few animals we have in our rescue without being intimidated and overwhelmed by the mass killing of dogs and cats in shelters, the over breeding of dogs and cats in mass production puppy mills, and the overall apathy and inaction of people who really do care about animals but justify their inaction with, "I just couldn't do what you do."

I am tired of being tired.

I will continue to write at some point, and I will continue to rescue because both of these are an integral part of who I am. 

But I have to find the me who can be there for family, and friends, the me who can trust people, the me who is not cynical and depressed, the me who can smile and laugh sincerely, and the me who is not the automaton who seems to have taken over my life.

I have to find me. 

If you see me anywhere, tell me to come home.

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GwpLady said...

I so understand....I am there too. I have so enjoyed and learned so much from you posts. And will patiently await your return.....take time for yourself, and family. Enjoy life, your children, and your animals and practice. Hugs to you!

Tammy Hartwig said...

Lisa ~

Thank you as always for sharing so personally with us! I am sorry that you have gotten to the point where many in rescue end up but, you recognize it and are dealing with it. My message on my cell phone is "Hi, you've reached Tammy. I don't even know where I am right now but if you leave a message I'll get back to you when I find myself". People think it's hilarious but sadly, it is often too true.

The world needs you, your family needs you, your clinic needs you, your rescues need you, the animal world need you (NO, we can't save them all and the hurts but, we can save a few) BUT, they all need you strong and healthy so PLEASE take care of YOU!!

I look forward to hearing from you in the future when you find yourself and you are strong & healthy again!


Mel said...

Oh man do I ever understand this. Rescue is frantic. Constant planning, thinking about what you can do next.. and it's overwhelming.

This is how I was starting to feel until good things started happening in my city, and the general public is now starting to realize what needs to be done.

But for sure.. you definitely lose yourself at times.

Take care.

Jenny Schultz said...

Oh, I so feel for you. I have been in a dark place similar to where you are now. It happens to many others, as you already know, in rescue. Take some time to figure out your direction. No one person can do it all so find your focus.
I left mainstream breed specific rescue and after a 'wash out' period, was able to focus on my true passion and pursue helping special needs Danes. I may never boast huge placement numbers but for the ones I place, their lives are forever changed for the positive. It can be a challenge to place a dog when huge physical disabilities and medical costs stand in the way but when it is your heart calling, it happens. Each dog is an individual to me and one that I can easily follow up with regarding their progress.
I wish you luck and new vision during your 'wash out' period and look forward to reading more of your blog when you are ready to jump back in.

Theresa Johnson said...

I understand. While we can't save them all YOU have saved many. Puppy breathe the old dog and the hurt kid along side the road. You gave what you had and I say thank you. It's good to take a break and talk of other things with people that different from the rescue world it gives us a way of looking at our life thru their eyes. Don't give up what you love just take your break and then when you feel better go fix a kid. I'm just a rescue transport driver and you are just a vet that is also a rescuer. Neither is just anything but our hearts.

Betsey Butler said...

I KNOW you--you are my FRIEND--on three different accounts--I have laughed with you and at you, I have cried for you--you are the woman I wish I could be--you have much more strength and dedication than I do--take your rest, find yourself(I think you're the angel on your shoulder--and ours) and then COME HOME to US all--you're on my list--prayers and otherwise!!!
...thought about saying "Lassie come home"--but that would've been a bit much!!!!! even though you've saved the day MORE TIMES than I can count!!!!

Brenda said...

I think all of us in rescue feel your pain. Sometimes, we just have to take a step back and regroup. Know that we can never save them all, and there will be plenty to help with, when you are ready. Take some “me” time!


Cindy Khalsa said...

I think we all as compassionate human beings go through a period in our lives when it just gets plan overwhelming to keep going on . Mine was when my fiance passed away 3 years ago, then 2 months later I lost my 2 bulldogs (14 and 15 years old) 2 weeks apart from each other my world collapsed on me , but there is a silver lining again , I am having more good days than bad days , and yes I was on auto pilot too. I guess I'm just trying to say it will get better , if you don't feel like writing try talking to God , no I'm not preaching to you , but it's really cathartic to just have conversations with him , whenever wherever there's no right or wrong way either , anyway I'll include you in my prayers , your someone I look up to , you are an inspiration for a lot of us animal and people , and it really is true just one makes a difference . The laws are finally changing all across this country for the betterment of the animals, and yes it is mindboggling the cruelty in the world , but the compassion in the world is growing also . You are appreciated , and we care about you whatever you do

Mil Drost, DVM said...

Remember the little boy and the starfish on the beach." I made a difference for this one."I try to set an example and inspire others to do their part, rather than trying to do it all myself. Having said that, I , too find that I doubt that I'll impact the animal abuse issues -except in my own little area of New Brunswick, Canada. Look out for yourself - you'll be back!

Dian Hardy said...

To my friends in rescue: I've been reading this woman's blog for more than a year now. She's a damn good rescuer and I've thrilled to her stories, and wept, and laughed out loud. Now this - the Great Weariness - and I know we've all felt it, succumbed, and risen again to the work. She will too, I trust, but until then I want to thank her from my heart, urge her to rest deeply and at some point rethink everything, even consider ending this often thankless task with all its attendant heartbreak, but then return because we cannot afford to lose such a one.

Diane Eckers said...

Hi Lisa, I remember your smile. It said “I love my work!” I remember the one puppy mill rescue we did together. That was only one, but one is better than none and one is where it starts. I’m glad you have friends unrelated to rescue because, even though it’s important and your passion, you need to remember the other things in life that are wonderful and important, too. Take some time to renew Lisa and I pray that you’ll find her again in your very important, everyday life. From someone who admires you greatly. God bless your day.

Janet Mangini said...

We miss Lisa......You're our hero.........

Joyce Van Kirk said...

I'm with you. I go through the same thing. I'm a rescuer and a devoted one. I understand exactly how you feel. It's their eyes. ( Again, I do understand.)

Beth Ann Ziebarth said...

THANK YOU for what you do. Keep your head high, it is every little bit that counts and does make a difference.

We Are Rescue
I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter,
The cast-offs of human society.
I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread,
Sadness and betrayal.
I was angry.
“God”, I said, “This is terrible! Why don’t you do something?”
God was silent for a moment and then spoke softly,
“I have done something,” was his reply.
“I created you.”

Lisa K said...

Hang in there...we are ALL tired but every victory makes it all worth it.

Brenda Hager said...

I forwarded your blog to our rescue group. Here is what Suzanne (our president) wrote back to the group.

I’m forwarding it to you verbatim J

“We've all been there. I feel like that's where we were at, all of last least i was. Rescue is exhausting and like the mail it never ever stops, no matter how much we work or how hard we try there is always more and more animals we can't save..... and if you let yourself start focusing on that, you quickly spiral out......the only thing that has ever worked for me is to constantly focus on the difference we make for the ones we can help. I read that starfish story all the time.....but I think it's only human for it to catch up with us at some point and keep us down for awhile. I hope that she'll find her feet again and get out of this funk. I wish I had some profound advise to offer her, but I don't ;( All I know is this happens to every rescuer at some point, and I think what distinguishes a true rescuer from the rest is - the real ones always make it back at some point. She will.”

Chantal said...

Don't ever loose the faith please! We need you!

We all get this way...........just lean on us who are not tired at the moment. We care, the animals care!

You are important!


Librablue13 said...

Remember why they tell us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves BEFORE we put them even on our children. Take care of yourself for all those who won't be saved if you fall and don't get back up. You are the best, girl! Hugs!

Connie said...

Even though I have only started to read your blogs (less than a year), the blogs have helped me through the loss of two of my dogs last year less (than a month apart) and helped me to rescue one from rescue league and another from being a stray with a future that I don't even want to think about. I believe in you and what you do :) Take the time you need. I have been pushing every person I know on FaceBook and in person to adopt from the shelters and rescue leagues.

Ann Axelson said...


Thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing. I will be praying for you. There are many different seasons life takes one on, and sometimes we must step break, and allow ourself time to reflect on us, and simply breather. I am a volunteer at our local animal shelter, and can understand the overwhelmingness you must feel, on some level. Please allow this time to Honour Yourself-Allow this time for you to find yourself and rest. Allow this time for you to find that balance, and reprioritize your life. Yes, there will always be animals to save, care for, and love, but never doubt how much one person can do. It is about being able to give yourself fully, in the present, to your family, friends, and animals. You will find your way back, and along this way you will grow so much-it won't be easy, and it sucks and hurts, but you will find yourself stronger, and better able to be used for the animals in your life. You are loved, and keep reaching out and being honest with those around you!

Your blog fan, and fellow animal rights advocate

Karen Schroeder said...

I almost sent you an email the other day, saying I missed your "Vet Rescuer", but decided against it. I already suspected something was not right - your lack of posts on Facebook recently, photos of just your kids rather than of animals, and a long interval between "Vet Rescuer" blogs. It also occurred to me you were "just busy", but I felt there was more to it than that . . .

Yesterday I visited an animal shelter. I donated some cleaning supplies and toys. They are a "No Kill" shelter, so I didn't have to worry about how much time the animals had left before being killed (I usually use the more socially acceptable term, "euthanize", but let's call it what it is - the cat or dog is killed). It is an older facility, but fairly well maintained. The dog kennels were clean, and the dogs looked healthy - good weight and shiny coats. The cat cages were clean - each kitty had a towel or blanket to curl up on - any shelter that goes above and beyond "just newspaper" for their kitties, I give a "thumbs up". Cats crave a "place" - something soft and warm to rest on - I believe it calms them and helps them feel secure. Some cats were out of their cages, wandering around, playing and asking for attention. There was also an outdoor "cattery" where the kitties could go for some fresh air and sunshine; they had perches to climb on and lounge. I liked that a lot.

Even though it was a "good" shelter, I was overwhelmed and sad at what I saw. There had to have been 100+ dogs (very rough estimate), and maybe 40 cats. Many of the smaller dogs were in cages or kennels in the "Dog Room" inside; most of the med. to larger dogs were in outside kennels. The din of their barking was deafening - if you worked there very long and did not use ear plugs, you would damage your hearing. Of course, they all wanted attention - I went up to many of their kennels, talked to them, and let them lick the back of my hand. Some of those dogs have been there for quite awhile. I know volunteers take them out for walks as often as possible, but most of the time the dogs are in their cages - I'm not sure what their quality of life is? Where do you draw the line, when "enough is enough" for a confined animal?

I spent time with a senior terrier mix - she was sweet, gentle and mellow. She is blind in one eye, but otherwise seems fairly healthy. She, along with another dog and 2 young cats were abandoned at the shelter back in July - later staff did find out who dumped them. This little dog was slightly thin and covered in fleas when she arrived; now she is a "full-bodied" girl - they have fed her well - a little too well. She seems content enough - still hopeful. A very mellow, quiet girl, at least in that environment. I took "Little Girl" for a couple of walks; sometimes we just sat in the grass under a tree and enjoyed the beautiful, fall day. We observed the comings and goings of a busy animal shelter . . .

Karen Schroeder said...

There was an elderly man who arrived with a small, white dog. The dog was obviously loved and well-cared for - she had just been groomed and looked so pretty. He left the dog in the car for a short time while he carried in dog supplies - looked like bedding, food, etc. Later he came back out (I assume after completing paperwork), and slowly walked his little white dog into the shelter. I could tell it was not something he wanted to do - his whole demeanor was one of resignation and sadness - he was saying "goodbye" to his friend. After a few minutes the elderly man walked out of the shelter and back to his car alone - his steps were heavy. He stopped, blew his nose and wiped his eyes; he slowly climbed into his car, wiped his eyes again, and drove away. His heart was broken - I wanted to say something so bad, but there was nothing I could say - he was in his own, private hell. I had to wipe my eyes, too. I learned later that man and his wife were moving into an assisted living facility that doesn't allow pets. The little white dog had been with them for 5 years. I was able to spend some time with the dog in the shelter office - she was very friendly and sweet but nervous. I petted her a lot and she loved the attention - I'm sure she thought her "dad" would be back for her soon - maybe this was just a short "visit" until he came for her. She is very adoptable - I don't believe LWD will be there long. But the sadness of the whole situation made a lasting impression on me - the look on the old man's face is ingrained in my brain forever.

Karen Schroeder said...

The staff at this shelter seemed very caring, but I'm sure they are overwhelmed and tired 24 hours a day, just like you, Lisa. I feel bad for them - I can see where they eventually will burn out and need to walk away, at least from part of it. I know they were hopeful I might take the little terrier - they want her out of that environment as soon as possible, and so do I. Believe me, I was SO tempted . . . but I told them I thought it would be too much with already having 6 cats and 3 dogs. They didn't pressure me (well, not much - they had to try), but are just wishing "Little Girl" could find a home. The shelter manager said, "I don't think she would be too much trouble . . . " No, I'm sure she wouldn't be. "Would you consider fostering?" I could feel myself weakening a little bit, but "No, we better not - that would be 10 animals" . . . I asked what Little Girl's adoption fee might be; "Well, to the right person, there would be no fee . . ." They thought I was "The Right Person" - they still had hope . . . I was honored and came close to saying, "Oh, the hell with it - what's one more set of paws around the house!" I would lovingly put Little Girl in the carrier I had brought, even though I wouldn't need it, but "just in case" . . . and when Gary came home from school last evening I would say, "Guess who came for dinner?" But common sense took over, I thanked the nice staff for their time, and headed home. Before leaving, however, I did go back to Little Girl's kennel (they do let her be in their office sometimes). As soon as she saw me she climbed off her Kuranda bed, hurried over to me with her tiny tail wagging, and seemed glad to see me. There was hope in her one, good eye - "this person came back . . . maybe, just maybe . . ." Guilt. I told L.G. "goodbye". I looked around the barren, cold kennel - I wished she could have a warm, soft pet bed with squishy blankets to nestle in. After years of apparent neglect, I want so much more for her. She deserves more from humans in her golden years. Just the day before, L.G.'s former owner called and wanted her "beloved" dog back; I guess she decided, after 3 months, that she "missed her". The manager said no way is L.G. going back to that person - told the lady her dog was already adopted. I noticed, I'm assuming for L.G.'s safety, they took her off Petfinder. The manager said she needs to get L.G. out of the shelter for awhile . . .

The trip home went fast - it is a 1 hour and 15 minute drive, but the whole time my mind was on L.G., all the other animals, the old man and animal rescue. I was overwhelmed and very tired after only one afternoon at the shelter - I can see how you are just plain exhausted all the time, Lisa. The constant highs and lows on a daily basis, never ending, would weigh anybody down. It is completely understandable that you need to find some balance in your life. I hope you are able to do that - I think you will in time.

Sorry this got so long - I didn't mean to "dump" on you - I just wanted you to know I understand where you are coming from.

Rene ( said...

You don't owe anyone an explanation for anything. Sometimes blogs go dormant -- that's just live. Just keep writing! I just found this blog and subscribed, I took in a rescue a few weeks ago and we are totally in love with him. I look forward to following your adventures, thank you for doing what you do.

Denise Lott said...

What can I say, except I only wish every vet (and every person) was as compassionate as you are. If you didn't have such cold winters in Iowa I'd beg to come work for you (I'm a vet assistant). : ) Take a rest, but please never give up!

Maggie Hess said...

We can't save them all. We can't even come close. We cannot dwell on the past but must think about the future and we need to step away and get some R&R (I always call them "mental health days") to refresh ourselves. We don't want to become judgmental - that's not our job. Leave that to a higher being. It's hard - been there many time - but it's the most rewarding job I have ever had! Hang in there rescuer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dana said...

If you're anywhere in Sonoma County, CA, i'll come over and give you a (strictly amateur) neck and shoulder rub.
I second everything you're saying, and i would have become another animal rescuer who's also a veterinarian if my white, Southern "mentor" hadn't gotten his knickers in a twist at my not being sufficiently deferential and, instead of saying anything about it to me, knifed me on my vet school application. (Fortunately, now applicants can see the letters before sending.)
What's really needed, in part, is the kind of comprehensive program Vancouver, BC, developed about 75 years ago. Veterinarians, educators and animal control officers all worked together to get people to neuter cats and dogs. In 50 years the number of quadruped euthanasias per human population was one-tenth what it had been when the program started--a whopping HUGE difference. I support the bill that would require people to neuter dogs and cats--with changes allowing for people who feed feral colonies, et al.
For your comfort, i offer the words of a long-ago rabbi: "If you save one life, it is as if you saved the whole world."
I bless you to rest, heal, choose and--wherever you may decide on--be happily re-homed.
Thank you so much for all your wonderful work.

Nan said...

Hi Veterinary Rescue....

I do not know your name but I know your heart. You sound like an amazing lady.
How wonderful you have been to the animals. THANK YOU for that. Yes, it all
seems so futile when you care for half a dozen and in no time at all another 3
dozen are waiting for you to help them. isn't futile. It ALL is worth
it. Saving and helping one at a time does wonders for that one animal. And
then there is that next one you help dearly. And so on and so on.

Do take some time off for you. I know you won't be able to let go of them
forever; it is just in you to help animals. After some needed "time off" you
will find the strength and determination to continue again to do your awesome
loving never-ending work for these animals.

Thank you for being that wonderful person for our animals.

Nan said...

The rescue work IS overwhelming. It IS a thankless job. It IS so emotional.
BUT...seeing ONE dog wag his tail, or run after a ball, or eat from your hand,
or lay his/her head on your lap, or fall asleep peacefully on you or roll over
for a tummy rub (and likewise with ONE cat)...then ALL your hard, difficult,
tiring, emotional work is ever so worth it because you made one animal (one very
important animal) happy, eaven if it is for just a short while. Thta animal is
given hope and feels that there IS someone out there who loves him/her. And
that's what gives that animal strength to keep on living, and to hold out until
that day comes when s/he is given that second chance and finds a forever loving