On a day focused on love, I figured I would share this post I have been brewing on for a while:
The last year of caring for domestic violence survivors pets has taught me new love.
❤️A love for the pets I care for every day, for days to months of their too-short of lives. I provide basic needs, fun, and attention to pets that are only mine for a short while. I worry for them as if they were my very own because in that time, they are. I cannot control their past or future, but I can love them and care for them as much as possible in the time they are with me.
❤️A love and fear for them every time I see a symptom of the abuse they have had. The love I try to show them just by not raising my voice, or moving too quickly, or having a man take care of certain ones, because I know that those little things can bring back bad memories for these poor animals.
❤️A love that the pets provide me because at that moment I am the only mom they know. The excitement when they see me, tails wagging, jumping on me, licking me every chance they have shows me that no matter what hate they have been through, they have not lost their capacity to love humans.
❤️A love that makes it all worth while for me. A love for the volunteers when I see their mix of sadness and happiness as I tell them a pet they have been playing with is going home.
❤️A love for the survivors which is the most complicated love I can feel. From the first tear-filled phone call to the last goodbye, I am with them in sometimes the worst part of their lives. They decide to trust me, a total stranger, with their fur baby. And for that I am so thankful because it means the animal is out of harm, even if just for a little while. I feel a love for these survivors and children knowing what they are going through, hearing their story, and wishing they knew a healthy love I know they deserve. Always holding a mix of trying to understand what they are going through, but knowing I never will, and hoping that I say and do the right things to make their situation just a little bit better.
As each animal leaves, they take a little bit of my heart with them but leave a little bit with me. I think about each of them often, even as I have new ones coming in.
***This photo is of me bringing a dog back to his owner after a few months of caring for him. Even though he was not easy and loved to poop in his kennel, I really loved how sweet he was. I also unfortunately had a pretty good idea that the survivor would eventually be going back to her abuser, a pretty common thing. So as I was happy to bring him to his mom, I felt a loss and sadness as well. I cry each time I drop an animal off and I hope that never changes.***