On July 27, 2018 I said goodbye to The Harlingen Humane Society’s Spay and Neuter Clinic. I had the urge to leave for some time but could never make the leap. The loyalty in my heart said to stay and my head repeatedly told me to get out there and learn more! Donja and I where a well-oiled machine in the surgery room and we overcame so many obstacles every single day in the name of saving animals and helping many that needed help. Countless days were spent educating people for the sake of the health of their animals. Some days were rough and emotional, but others were rewarding and spectacular. Together we were making a difference no matter how much the clinic crumbled around us.
The next week I started my new job. My first week was overwhelming and an adjustment for sure but I was happy. So many new things to see, do and learn. My life continued as a general practice tech. I have endured many sad times working at shelters and had my break downs too so, would my emotional wellbeing be better off at a private veterinary practice? No… just as many bad people visit a shelter as they would a veterinarian. Just because people are willing to pay for services does not make their choices right. Working at such a busy clinic I see my fair share of neglect due to owners being uneducated before obtaining a pet. I don’t know what is worse? Seeing a shelter animal in the drop cages in pain knowing it will be sent over the bridge to feel no more pain soon? Or Diagnostically knowing that an animal is pain and having an owner take them home to suffer because they don’t think its time? Either way my heart breaks.
My heart was both on my sleeve and in my throat for a whole week and I couldn’t shake the feeling until today. Donja called me about a poor little poodle left alone and incredibly injured in a nearby shelter. There was no reason such a delicate little guy should have been neglected in that way. Donja usually calls me when she’s a little upset just to talk but this time I felt her pain through the phone. The little poodle would get better no doubt, especially since Donja and Wendy had him but still I could feel my throat get tight at just the thought of him sitting alone in the dark with no hope in sight. Just for 1 second close your eyes and imagine being hurt, caged, hungry and scared. Next up came Lucky. Lucky had just had intense surgery at my new clinic and the diagnosis revealed cancer. Lucky the 8-year-old big Pitbull full of energy, kisses, tail wags and pure love came in for bandage changes almost daily because his lovely owner needed help because he had too much energy and was too strong. The mass on him was growing and he was running out of time. Every time he came in he had the best attitude, couldn’t even notice he was a sick dog, my heart melted for him but there was nothing anybody could do. I helped euthanize Lucky later that week. Next was the struggle to euthanize one of my own. Little Tink Tink the bunny had found his way to me via my old clinic because he couldn’t use 3 of his legs (he had hip dysplasia and splay leg) I took him in and he thrived! Pain meds on board, eating like a horse, daily butt baths, anything a handicapped baby bunny could need. He was just a baby and 6 months later he was growing stronger every day! Later on, he lost the function of his one only working leg. He was unable to move around or keep him self upright. I knew Tink Tink would not have lived his full life, but I gave him my best. We spent his last night grass grazing, eating carrots and scarfing cherries with a side of kale. The next day I helped euthanize Tink Tink. The last straw that broke my back, heart, neck and spirit….
On a Saturday at an adoption event while I was petting one of the doggies in the window at Petsmart, a gentleman said, “Excuse Me?” I turned around and looked up. A middle-aged man asked if I am from The Humane Society, I said no but some of these dogs are how can I help you? He proceeded to tell me about his senior dog and that it is very sick. I asked if it had been to the vet and if he had had his dog since a puppy? He said no I don’t go to vets and yes, he had his dog since a pup. He then asks “will they automatically put my dog sleep if I leave her in the drop cages of the shelter at night time? I always donate to them at the clinic thing you guys have each month, so I should be good right?” I could feel my ears getting hot, my heart starting to pound faster and my eyes starting to fill. I had to excuse myself and cry in the bathroom for a bit. I am pretty sure this man’s dog spent its last moments scared, alone and surrounded by strangers before she met her end.
Shelter life and practice life both have their ups and downs. I’ve cried in my car in both parking lots. Love and compassion come in many forms and some of us allocate it for different things in our life. Everybody has a hell week every now and again, but do we really bounce back or do we keep chipping away at our own hearts to compensate for those who have none.
What makes me smile after a hell week? The love of a good man, the love of a rescue dog(s), the love of a cool cat(s), the love of hopeful foster(s), a roof over my head, tofu in my tummy and wine in my glass. Revel in the good thing you have tonight and in the morning drink some coffee, put on some gangsta rap (or country) and handle that sh**!