In the sheer joy that comes from being a volunteer at an animal shelter it is easy to forget the harsh reality that not all animals make it. I had a reminder of that yesterday and it upset me. It made for the only day where I didn't come home with a smile, but it caused me to wake up this morning more determined to keep doing what I'm doing.
I put in an extra hour today because there are just not enough volunteers to give the cats the time, attention, and love they deserve. Every time I told myself "OK, last cat of the day" I'd spy some new little face peering hopefully through the bars of their cage and I'd take him or her out for a play. I'm going to try doing longer shifts from now on because they need it so much. And, quite frankly, so do I.
Yesterday also reinforced my respect for everyone who works or volunteers with shelter animals throughout the world. These beautiful, needy, helpless animals need our care, love, and attention. They need people with big hearts (and open checkbooks) to make sure they are healthy and happy or to decide, sadly, that they are suffering and their pain should be ended.
When I walk through the shelter and see so many beautiful, loving critters who just want someone to love, it breaks my heart. And every time I see someone walking out the door with a happy dog on a leash, or a purring kitty in a box, it unbreaks my heart a little. Through no fault of their own these animals have come to us with no other resource, and we do our best to make sure their stay with us is full of love and care until they find their forever homes. My contribution to this is but a tiny part of the whole, and I live in admiration of those who do this day in and out, for years. They are my heroes and I want to be just like them.
This is, as I have said, the best thing I've ever done.