Combatting Canine Rescue Fatigue
This week I have had three different women confide in me that they were overwhelmed and exhausted by the massive work required in their canine rescue efforts.
I see these Mother Theresas' of the dog world give of themselves day in and day out, often risking marriages, friendships, and personal finances. They do it not for personal satisfaction, but because there is a need.
The stream of dogs in dire need seems endless, and it is.
Senior dogs, dogs with medical needs, dogs abandoned for no apparent reason, dogs homeless because their owners are homeless, dogs with behavior issues...it just doesn't stop. They feel that if they don't do it, who will? And for them, the thought of a dog suffering is too much to bear.
You may be one of these self sacrificing people...
How can you cope with rescue fatigue? Having suffered from it myself, here are some tips:
Take a mental break.
My love of French history and French antiques developed as a form of escapism from the mental pain of rescue work. Find a hobby that you can escape into and make time for it. ( Make a scrapbook of the dogs you have helped save and look at it when you get depressed.)
If you have been fostering, consider something different.
Transport or fund raising perhaps.
Consider narrowing down the kinds of dogs you rescue.
Maybe you have a lot of experience with behavior modification for example, then limit yourself to dogs who need your special skill.
Or become breed specific. Whether it is Lab/Pit mixes or Maltese, becoming breed specific has its' advantages. For one, it helps you learn their breed idiosyncrasies both emotionally and medically. It is easier to network with other persons and groups who are breed specific also.
Or try this breed specific approach...for several years I was involved in Standard Poodle rescue. My own rescued Standard Poodle was a wonderful ambassador for his breed. When we were out in public, which was a lot, I often met people who confessed an admiration for the breed. It was an opportunity to educate them about the plight of so many homeless Standard Poodles. I would give them my phone number as I was a contact person for the breed with area shelters. I soon had a wait list of prospective homes. Yes, I said wait list. Because of that I was able to co-ordinate the adoption of many Standard Poodles, far more than I could ever have taken in and cared for.
Get more people involved. Spread the word among friends, family and co- workers. The beautiful tiny Imperial Shih Tzu pictured at the beginning of this post is named Alphie. This year he was dumped at the entrance to our local pound/kill shelter in the middle of the night. He was heartworm positive... I was worried for him as it didn't look like anyone was going to save his life. My friend and co-worker Keesha and her husband John stepped in. Now, thanks to their involvement, he has a loving home with everything a little dog could dream of.
Rescue fatigue is a serious condition. Don't let your family, your job and your own pets' lives suffer because you are stretched too thin.
Most importantly, realize that you can't do it all and you can't save them all,no matter how badly you want to.