A couple months ago, I fostered a dog and ended up adopting her. It was my first experience ever caring for a pet. It was like a whole new world for me, and I found myself reading tons of online articles about dogs and watching YouTube videos on training, grooming, health….and dog rescues.
I began following a number of local dog rescues on Facebook and enjoyed hearing about animals that were found, fostered, and adopted. It makes your heart feel full to see a neglected animal in the arms of their new family, healthy and cared for.
Then I discovered a page made specifically to help dogs at a high-kill shelter.
On this page, there are pleas for individual dogs where people can pledge money in hopes that a rescue organization will get the dog out of the shelter. It’s uplifting when someone posts “Rescued!” or “Adopted!” on that particular dog’s comments.
But then, sometimes, it says “RIP”. It means the dog wasn’t saved in time. It was euthanized.
It is so hard to look at a photo of a dog and know it is dead. It makes my heart hurt.
Jim says to me, “Why are you looking at this page? You just know it’s going to make you sad.” And of course, he’s right.
And I don’t really get it either. WHY do I do it? I plan on fostering another dog soon, and I love to see when dogs are saved, but why do I continue to go back to this page when I know it will make me sad because more have been killed?
Then, a few days ago….was the first one that made me cry. It was a tiny, terrified chihuahua in a cage. Normally, I’m not a big fan of chihuahuas, but the way he was imploring the camera, crouching in fear, his big black eyes so full of the desire for someone to care for him made me burst out crying and my heart ache…Because he was killed.
I just keep looking at this picture. Over and over. Looking into his eyes….like I can feel his fear. . . . .
I get angry about these high kill shelters and have fleeting, passionate thoughts about starting a rescue organization or volunteering at one, or finding a way to foster many more dogs, but none of those things are practical. I do think, “someday I am going to make a difference. I have to do something about this.”
Why do I keep visiting this page? Do I want to feel the hurt?
An anonymous commenter on this blog left some great insight that helped me understand why I do this.
Looking at photos of dogs on the dog rescue Facebook pages confirms to myself that it is an important issue to me–and the pain functions as the sign that it is important.
Regarding the chihuahua–I didn’t want his life to be invisible. I didn’t want him to die without anybody caring about his life and death. He existed. His sadness and pain didn’t disappear when he died; I felt it for him.