When it all gets too much
We are constantly receiving rescue requests and it gets overwhelming sometimes. We can't help all the animals in need. Space, manpower and resources are always limited and we can only do what we can with what we have. Our days and nights are also filled with running the rescue and time is also a scarcity so it's impossible to get back to every e-mail and message that comes our way and we apologize for that.
One such e-mail sat in our inbox in mid-August about a dog hanging around an abandoned mountain building. I glanced at the photos but left it as is as we are full to the brim with dogs waiting for homes. Over one hundred, actually. I passed it off as another feral dog able to survive on it's own. A nagging feeling kept me returning to the photos. Where were the other dogs? Isn't is strange that a feral would stick around a building alone?
Soon enough, she was captured by animal control so we went to meet her there. She was obviously not feral.
So she came to HEART. I named her Juno. She is the sweetest of sweetest dogs. People friendly, dog friendly, just an all around wonderful dog. She likes her sleep though, and that's the only time I've seen her get a bit pissed off but I totally get that.
So the moral of the story is that there are too, too many people that just want to get their animal problem off their hands and guilty conscious. And put it unto the ones doing rescue work. I've learned how to say no in a lot of cases but it doesn't make my guilt for not saving that one or two or sometimes 20.
I think what put me off from the start was the initial e-mail. The gist being "I have two dogs and I can't possibly do more. There must be someone that can give this dog a home. Why can't HEART do something to get this dog into a home".
I wanted to respond with "I am responsible for over 100 dogs at the moment and 70 cats. I can't possibly do more. There must be homes for the friendly and vetted animals in our care. Why are people so selfish and can't do more for the animals in front of their eyes."
Since Juno came to HEART, we haven't heard from the e-mailer. I'm assuming there wasn't donation of any kind, either. This is from experience, but I apologize if the e-mailer did contribute to Juno's fees for pulling her from the Kanri center, her spay surgery, microchip, vaccinations, heart-worm blood test, flea/tick treatment, de-worming, food for the past three months, electric bills to keep her cool during the hot months and now warm during the cool ones, rent to pay for the roof over her head, etc. etc. etc.
Juno due to fly out to her new home on the 23rd. She is one of the lucky mid-sized adult dogs that could find a home. It's not so easy. Just ask the other 100 of our mid-sized adult dogs. Some of them pure-bred. Some of them with so much love to give. We all wonder why they haven't found a home yet. My only answer is that it must be destiny.
I believe in miracles
I considered not sharing this because there are so many critics out there waiting to jump on us for any slight but it's too good of a story not to share. My stories are always long and complicated, certainly, as that is my life in animal rescue.
Remus and Pan Pan were brothers that were abandoned over 3 years ago at a park that we have been doing TNR and rescue at for the past 5 years. They were about 4 months old at the time and two roommates from Sweden fostered them until they left Tokushima to return home. Remus and Pan Pan then moved to our volunteer house where they lived with our long-term volunteers. Remus was the outgoing one, Pan Pan the shy one. Both too smart for their own good and with one outside escape and capture, they got a taste for the great outdoors and learned to open doors and windows. Learned to check all the doors and windows to find one to open, and then because we were extra careful to make sure the windows were hatched closed, learned to pull the hatch to open the windows. At first, we always panicked when they got out but we'd leave the window open and they would return and all was well again.
When COVID began, our long-term volunteer pool dried up and Remus and Pan Pan spent a lot of time alone in the volunteer house besides daily visits to care for them. I would also go to stay with them overnight a couple of days a week but they were lonely. The outside was enticing and their escape artist activity intensified. And then we were blessed with a long-term volunteer from Germany during the pandemic that jumped through hoops to get here. All was well in Remus and Pan Pan's world again for 9 months and then they were alone with daily visits and a couple nights of human companionship again. You can guess what happened. The window was always left opened for their return. They did, but it was always just one of them and never both of them at the same time so the window had to be left open. And then there was only Remus returning and no sightings of Pan Pan for months and months. We set traps, searched the neighborhood, checked with police and animal control. Half a year later and I accepted that he was dead.
There was no way a shy cat with no experience living outdoors could survive.
Remus was a constant during that time and was usually inside inviting all the other stray cats in through the open window. Or if he wasn't inside, I'd call out to him and he'd do his loud meowing and come running. Then this past summer, Remus's fur started thinning and he'd lost some weight. I thought it may have been an allergic reaction to the new flea/tick preventive but a vet visit and echo showed a mass in his stomach. It was a tumor and he was sent home with meds. He wasn't feeling well and spent his time resting and sleeping and had no interest in finding a way outside. About ten days later, he made a prison break, stayed out overnight, returned home and then passed away. My human brain told me that he must have had one last fruitless look for his brother, Pan Pan, and then gave up on life.
Fast forward to today. Almost a year since Pan Pan disappeared. A client brings a rescue they want to keep as their own to a local vet clinic and the vet suggests to check for a microchip. He has one. It's Pan Pan. We are contacted. He's healthy and doing well.
I was in disbelief and once I got my bearings have to reconsider some things I thought to be true. One being that a cat raised strictly indoors can't survive on their own outside. For almost a year. Owners should never give up on a lost cat.
Other of my beliefs are reinforced. Microchipping is so so important. Not for just the animals but for the people. I am so, so relieved that he is alive and well. Ear-tipping should only be reserved for feral or street cats. I wonder if Pan Pan would have been rescued or checked if he had one.
And the story I I told myself when Remus went out that last time. Now I wonder if he was saying good-bye to his brother for the last time. Another made up human brain story.
We do not give animals they credit they deserve. They are not little humans. And I so respect that. They far surpass our resilience to life's difficulties. They don't live in the past. They don't dream about the future. They live in the now. We, humans, have a lot to learn. (and I'm soooo grateful for that microchip and call to let me know PanPan is ok after all this time❤️)