Confessions of an imperfect dog mom…
Living in the land of dichotomies…my weapons of war…
I think I need to make an early new years resolution…to blog more regularly. I blog for two reasons…I want to share my passion for animals and my own need to clear my head…they are intimately connected I think.
Technology is a funny thing. There is a fine line, I believe, between staying “connected enough” with the world to be useful to the world and becoming “compassion fatigued” as a result of being “too connected”. I have had several days…a week really…where I have had to “unplug”. The steady barrage of horror stories, the unceasing amount of animals surrendered to kill shelters in Kentucky…the complete lack of will by the “elected class” to protect animals…it never stops. It is easy to fall prey to the lie that it is hopeless and just shut down emotionally.
Kentucky is a strange place…it is a place of dichotomies. A place where on the one hand…their is tremendous passion for animals…the celebration of the horse in Kentucky borders on a form of worship. But on the other hand neglect, abuse and flat out ignorance brings on the suffering of a truly staggering number of animals. On the one hand the rescue groups here are all overwhelmed and running on shoe string budgets…competing with each other for the small amount of donations available from a populace with one of the lowest wage rates in the country. But on the other hand the horse auctions just took place in Lexington where hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent by a handful of people hoping to buy that next superstar race horse. The inequity of it all is quite mind numbing. But it has been this way forever…indeed a strange place and the dichotomies don’t just apply to the way animals are treated.
On so many very serious levels Kentucky is so terribly behind the rest of the country; health, education and wages are ranked at the bottom in the country. Maybe it takes an outsider to see how grossly some of these things stand out…at least to see how Kentucky fares relative to other parts of the country. Perhaps this is the closest I have ever lived to some of these issues and the contrast bothers me. The contrast of extreme wealth (horse barns nicer than most homes) juxtaposed with extreme poverty (others live in campers…not trailers…but campers).
I walk all over this town with my dogs everyday…I see beauty and pride in the community all over the place…there is also a lot of poverty, blight and hopelessness. The signs of how so many lives are being short changed by a poor education system and the impact of addiction are everywhere. So often, I miss Apple Valley…my whistle clean, prosperous and homogenous home town. But now it almost feels that it wasn’t real…reality is here…and I am meant to see it, live it…be it. I can’t say we fully understand why yet but Bret and I both know that we were right where we are supposed to be. This town, this house and at this time…is where we are meant to be.
So much contrast…gross dichotomy all around me…and it bothers me…so much it makes my bones feel cold. There is darkness and hopelessness like I have never seen before…sometimes its downright scary…a form of spiritual poverty I have never felt before.
At the same time…there is a spirit force in some of the local Kentuckians that is remarkable. It’s a fighting spirit…its a never give up spirit. I didn’t know until I toured the Kentucky armory recently that Kentucky has sent more men to fight in every single war (relative to its population) than every other state in our country…every single one. Many people have a fierce self-understanding of who they are as Kentuckians. Whether you agree with them or not they know what they stand for and I respect that. There is also an earthiness about the people here…something I have really come to love and hope to write more about some time.
There is an unsung compassion here too. Not too long ago there was a funeral director who went public with a body he had been given custody of. A man, a vet…who had no family, no friends…not a single contact…died in a nursing home, alone, with never a visitor. The funeral director asked for people who might consider coming to his funeral…hundreds..seriously hundred of people… showed up for his funeral. Despite the warts…there is something powerfully good here too…often it feels like I have a naked view of spiritual warfare…something that was more deeply shadowed in Minnesota.
These days; I am a “girly, girl” as my husband says…I cry a lot these days…I cry when I see something sad, something happy, something compassionate…I just cry a lot…my husband thinks its cute…but I know its how I fully experience what is going on around me…really feel things deep down in my bones…the way we were made to feel things…if that makes sense. For most of my life…I did not cry…I had a very narrow range of emotions…I did not feel.
A few weeks ago…I had a conversation with a local friend who works in throes of pet rescue…he was at a point of disgust…that giving up point where anger and frustration can over take the desire to keep trying…at least for a while. I told him…”I know that spot…I know it well. But I also know that the only way out of that hole is to fight…and for me that means fighting with the only weapons God gave me…forgiveness, compassion and the will to do good.” I subsequently spent a week re-trenching from the same feelings of despair.
Then I got a call about a dog named Nickel. He needed a ride out of a kill shelter to safe place. Off I went…Nickel paid his fare in kisses and snuggles. My soul was fed for a week. I needed Nickel to remind me of my own words.
When all else fails…and darkness seems brighter than the light…grab your weapons and look for your Nickel.
If you are a lover of all things pet and pet rescue consider following my blog or my Facebook Page. I also have a Pinterest Page full of resources for pet parents. And of course if you are in need of any pet sympathy cards or pet rescue art check out my Rescue Mama Shop.