Monday, October 13, 2014

Cultivating Kindness: Volunteering

Several years ago I worked and volunteered at an animal rescue, that is where I adopted our cat Ophelia.  The rescue was an off shoot of a vet clinic. The clinic, located in eastern New Mexico, was a converted trailer with an attached kennel area located a couple hundred yards from the local Walmart. I guess it was originally just a vet's office, but people kept dropping off their animals. Actually, sometimes people would bring in "problem animals" to euthanize and the vet (who has since passed) would charge the owner for euthanasia and just keep/adopt out the animal. I can't say it was a legit practice, but he had my gratitude! It's strange where life changing events can happen isn't it? While there I had the good fortune to work with an animal, Cocoa, who changed my life...but that is a sad story for another day. I will say that it was this one animal gave me a clear direction. I knew animal rescue would always be a part of my life.

Over the years I have volunteered and not volunteered. Mostly it has been really difficult for my heart. You see, it hurts to feel for these animals, to become attached. To see people pass by the sweetest souls, to be unable to take them all home. So sometimes I feel paralyzed, like my heart can't handle that weight---but it can. Then recently an event propelled me to volunteer again. The event sparked a personal commitment on my part to pick up my volunteerism, permanently.

So I went to the local Humane Society that has a no-kill policy. I went through their training program and I have been volunteering since that time. The last time I was in I asked if it would be OK to bring my oldest daughter in to volunteer with me. I was told that I could bring her to visit the cats, dogs might be a bit much for her.

Humane society

Yesterday afternoon was cold and rainy. We had no plans. I spontaneously asked Cordelia to join me for a little time at the shelter. She was excited!

Humane society

I knew that exposing her to animals, explaining the situation a bit, and just getting her into the act would be good for her. I didn't really know if she'd lose her steam after 15 minutes, but I figured that even 15 minutes would be time well spent.

Humane society

We chose one of the four big cat rooms, their policy is only one room a day to prevent the spread of any possible illness. Time flew by. My sweet girl played. She asked about the cats. She pet them. She laughed. She empathized. It was beautiful.

Humane society
This old girl has been there for 6 years. It hit Cordelia when she realized that this cat had been in that cat room for longer than she has been alive.

Humane society

When our time was up she wanted to pet just a few more. She said goodbye to her friends and had already whispered promises about her next visit.

Humane society

I have no idea what this will mean for her, but I can tell you what it means to me: My heart is heavy, but happy. Oh, does it hurt to see these animals so hungry for love and to be unable to satisfy that need, but any goodness I can bring into this world is worth that weight.

Humane society

So we will continue to volunteer and to adopt as our home and lives allow.

Humane society

In case you are interested the local Humane Society has an adoption of $10 for cats with any orange or black this month...just sayin' there is probably room in your house.

1 comment:

Suzy said...

Maria, I feel exactly the same way! You really touched my heart, and the more I get to know you, the more you amaze me! All of my family have rescued pets, and my dad and I used to plan how one day we would open an animal rescue....you have inspired me to volunteer......but I hesitate, because I know it is hard......how lucky your girls are to have you!

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