Friday, May 18, 2012

For The Love Of Pete...

I must confess, I have been suffering from rescue burnout for a while now. It's so exhausting to see so many lovely GSPs in need of assistance. No matter how hard we try, or how many volunteer hours we invest, it's just never enough. And, when you are the one who has to reply to the shelter e-mail with the words, "I'm sorry, we're full" knowing all too well that you are likely signing the euthanization orders for that dog, well, the weight of that is nearly unbearable. Honestly, sometimes I just want to throw in the towel for a while...the burden is just too heavy.

I took a walk, and ended up down by our pond. I was thinking about Pete, my first rescue boy. He came to me as a senior in Dec. 2002, after his owner had passed away suddenly. He was a 90lb lug of a dog, half of his ear missing, long tail that knocked everything off every table and shelf, calm by GSP standards (except at meal time). He stayed with us because of his age, and, well, because we fell madly in love with him. Everyone did. He was an amazing therapy dog for the elderly, and there were patients battered by Alzheimer's, who had lost the ability to communicate, but when they petted Pete, they would speak. Their faces would come alive, just with a mere touch to his silky ears. He was a magical force, there was something special about him that everyone could see and feel. He moved you.

Pete passed away two months before our house was completed. By the pond, I planted a weeping willow tree, and placed some of Pete's ashes at the roots. We planted three other weeping willows that day. Pete's tree is the only one still standing. And, it's thriving. It made me think about the thousands of other "seeds" that have been planted through the last 10 years in rescue. How many families' lives have been touched by their own "Pete" and how they made beautiful memories with their adopted dog. I also thought about all of the volunteers whom I have "met" and those who have joined rescue in my time. They are all such amazing, strong, dedicated people. I have never met most of them in person, but I consider them my friends. I am grateful to have them in my life.

Although it can be difficult, exhausting, and heartbreaking at times, rescue is what I know. It's why I'm here. Of that, I am certain. How boring my "spare time" would be if not for rescue. When I put my head on my pillow each night, I know I have done something right. This amazing rescue team of ours is an amazing force. WE move mountains. WE change lives. I wish for others, who have never fostered, to know the JOY that comes from saving a life. We truly have control of a living being's destiny, simply by opening our hearts and our homes. It is an amazing gift for which I will be forever grateful.

So, in a few weeks, it will be four years since I lost Pete. I decided to take a tearful look at his 'tribute' video. It was long overdue. I needed this today. I needed HIM to remind me WHY I do this. Why I must move past this feeling of throwing in the towel, and keep going.

Since Pete's death, I have also lost my "original" GSPs, Heidi and Rudy (they are pictured in Pete's video as well). My household has come full circle, and there's a new generation of rescues here with us. I suspect when they are gone, a new generation will replace them. After all, it's what I know. It's why I'm here. It's what I do. Watch: Pete's Video Tribute