Today someone posted a video that I think is making the rounds again of a group of soldiers coming home from somewhere as they get off the plane. An impromptu crowd gathers along the path they take out of the airplane gate and people begin to applaud. The soldiers’ faces seem to light up and they seem as surprised as they are touched by the reception. No question, this is a moving little video. But even as it made me teary and even as I clicked Like, something bothered me.
I think it’s that we should broaden our idea of who should get that kind of encouragement. Let’s face it, no matter what you do for a living some days you really have to squint to see reasons to keep doing it and a little round of applause; literal or figurative never hurts. But literal is really freaking cool. I watch that video and think maybe we should set a day for each person in our workplace doing a great job and just greet them one morning with an applause line.
Animal sheltering is both a dream and a nightmare job. We see things that we can’t un-see sometimes. We are here for great grace and for icy cruelty. One staff member said it is the deep sadness that got to her, it was the vast and fast swing between extremes of joy and despair. Yea, that.
We talk about how to level that a bit. We focus on joys and save them up to inoculate ourselves against the inevitable outbreak of loss. We try to remember that nirvana is not the absence of pain. It is the absence of suffering amidst pain.
This is the first in a series of stories that share some of our “vaccine” against pain with you. Because the good that happens is great. The lives that are changed forever for better are many.
The choices we make each day matter. Just like all these animals.
“Brie was a little cat who was discarded and found her value here at Friends For Life. One day, a representative of the local Salvation Army came in and said he’d like to adopt a cat for the residents at the facility. They know a thing or two at the Salvation Army about beings who have been discarded. It was an unorthodox adoption as we usually place the pets with one person or one family. But in discussion, we realized we were, in fact, placing this cat with one family.
Our little Rubi, who you knew as Brie is not so little anymore. We renamed her as the dog that belongs to the facility’s name is Jade and it just seemed fitting. I still feed her kitten type food as I think it fits her age technically but I know she will so need something more substantial for an adult cat soon.
The entire facility is hers to run. Upstairs there is a private area for her in the library where her litter box, a small cat tree and a hiding out box are located. Downstairs there is a large cat tree, pictured below and numerous toys always rolling around the tile floor. At the front desk/check in area, we have kept a small basket that she first slept in when she got here. She still lays in it (really laying over the sides because she is just not that small anymore) while hanging out, helping out with breathalysers and daily intake!
She is the type of kitty I had as a child. Very loving, friendly to everyone, docile and very playful. When I came to adopt her and picked her up out of the cage you have there in the back, she licked my face as if she was happy to see me. Now, I can walk up to her and sing the Meow Mix song at her and she will still do it-like she remembers me even thought I don’t work in the building that’s she’s in.
She has done wonders for men that are in our recovery program. Hardened men with pasts that include drug addiction and manufacture, assault, homelessness and murder look like children when playing with her and it stirs an emotional response that only something pure from God can bring. It was an excellent thing to bring her here-she is incredibly loved!!
Just writing this email makes me tear up a little because she is just such a good kitty and I’m so glad that we have her here.
In the pictures she looks grumpy, but she’s not. We woke her up for this photo op but she didn’t seem to mind.
Thanks for reaching out to us to check on her. Email me for anything else that you may need.” — Jason
There is no such thing as a throwaway life. There are no irrelevant beings. That’s what I love about the No Kill model. I will never be called to make that arrogant, impossible and soul-destroying decision that a being is simply not worth my effort.
When we say Every Animal Matters that’s exactly what we mean.