Facing Fatigue and Disappointment
Last Spring, I placed the rescue building for sale in hopes that I would move quickly into a new location. Several potential buyers saw the building but wanted to see it without the dogs still there. So, realizing that the building would not sell while the dogs were there, I began to look for leasing options. I spent thousands of dollars in environmental inspection fees, earnest money, and days/months of wasted time trying to move. One location had easement concerns and the other had zoning restrictions.
It has been almost one year since the rescue building has been for sale and I am still there. I am still hoping and praying for my desired location to come into fruition. All the while, the local city shelter is continually full. In years past, the shelter was usually full during the warmer months but this is no longer the case. The shelter is full year round. Always trying to find a way, a place, any place for yet another dog in need has left me feeling somewhat hopeless. Have I simply been running a rescue so long, that I am left ambivalent to the need? What Is the role of a rescue? Is it to act as a Band-aid yet serve no greater purpose toward long-term solutions of pet overpopulation?
Maybe it is the gloom and grey days of Winter that has left me feeling depleted. Maybe it is the frustration of still being stuck in a building I no longer adore; one that the rescue and sanctuary have outgrown years ago. People too have become almost unbearable in terms of their expectations and entitled dispositions toward rescues. I was almost relieved to hear the horror stories from another rescue about their experiences with the public. A rescue wants only to find a safe and committed home for their dogs, and this is an expectation assumed by the shelters in which the dogs are rescued. There is a common misbelief that everyone is entitled to adopt a dog from any rescue. "How dare a rescue deny me a dog! I am just going to go to a breeder! This rescue sucks and I am going to let everyone know!"
After eight years of negotiating the best tactic for denying an applicant, I have surrendered the idea of even trying. No matter how gingerly I approach the applicant, they will get mad and personally attack my faith, rescue, etc. The worst scenario is declining a person's offer to volunteer. I'm still perplexed by the reactions but it is indeed revealing and a confirmation most times that I am doing an excellent job protecting my rescue. Not every rescue...let me rephrase, no rescue has to have a single volunteer. It is an assumption by those who believe they are wanted. Some rescues prefer to work among a small group of volunteers and others desire a large number. Every rescue is a business and businesses operate in different manners; all designed to keep the business open.
I have several GSDs with bite histories. Some of them have stranger aggression. I don't leash my GSDs when releasing them from their kennels or outdoor runs. They go willingly back to their designated kennel. Having strangers in the kennel increases barking, creates anxiety with me and them, and slows the process of cleaning to almost a halt. No one asks me why I don't accept volunteers, only that I am a horrible person because I don't want their help. One Facebook follower likes to remind me to stop saving dogs. It is exhausting. So, where do I find relief? Do I throw my hands up in the air and admit I simply despise the human race too much to continue? Do I take the fact that I haven't moved yet, that it is indeed time I closed the rescue?
I'm not closing but I do need to find a new way. That way is finding a new home that is better designed for visitors and to keep my special needs dogs completely separate from my adoptable dogs; a place that allows regularly scheduled days of adoption events. But for now, I am stuck. I feel as if I am stuck in thick mud and a pack of angry denied adopters and volunteers are closing in on me. I wish I could just run the sanctuary. There would be less mad people. No returns. Life would be really great again.