Animal rescue is full of joy and hope, but it is also full of sorrow and tragedy. I have no idea how rescuers do it day after day - how they face the loss and the heartbreak. There are days I can barely bring myself to write about these stories, just as I know there are times you can't bring yourself to read those articles... and yet, there are selfless people who continue to live those stories every single day.
They give all of their energy, and then some, to saving animals in need. They give everything in the hope that their efforts will help a dog have a long and happy life in a loving home.
But sometimes that isn't possible. Sometimes all they can offer a dog is love and peace for a few precious moments.
That's what happened to the rescuers at Frosted Faces Foundation
in California when they met ten year old Gracie.
The rescue shared her story on their Facebook page:
Her owners approached the FFF table at Shane's War and said they thought their dog had parasites. We recommended going to the vet, but they said she was too sick from it and they were at the shelter to put her to sleep. We asked to see their dog and coincidentally she was a senior.
We found Gracie in the backseat of the man's car and his sister accompanied him. He said that he had adopted Gracie from a neighbor a few years ago and even then he said she had the beginnings of what we witnessed today. What he was describing were mammary masses that had ruptured and become infected.
Although they knew euthanasia was the likely outcome, the humans of Frosted Faces didn't want to give up on Gracie. Neither did the people of Hope for Paws
, who offered to cover all of her medical care. But, it was too late.
... the infection was too great, too deep, and very likely cancerous. The amount of suffering Gracie had endured was absolutely not to be prolonged and it was not in Gracie's best interest to even be hopeful. We needed to accept that euthanasia was our gift to her and be satisfied that she did not pass alone.
Gracie lived in tremendous pain for years. Pain that could have been prevented. Her owners wouldn't, or didn't know how, to help her. By the time she found someone to help her, she was too far gone.
If you are like me, tears are streaming down your face right now and you are probably thinking "I hate people. People are terrible." But the lesson in Gracie's story is the exact opposite. The lesson is that people are incredibly amazing, brave, compassionate and selfless.
The heartbreak that we are feeling right now echoes the loss and devastation animal care workers experience on an almost daily basis.
At the end of the day I am just numb. So much effort, so little joy, so many more to go.
It's that last statement that makes this so profound - "So many more to go."
- It doesn't matter to these rescuers that they have been emotionally gutted by what happened to Gracie, it doesn't matter to them that they are exhausted or numb. They will keep saving lives because they are freaking heroes and we are all lucky that people like them exist.
They couldn't save Gracie's life, but they did give her something her spirit will never forget: love, kindness, and peace. They barely knew Gracie, but they instantly loved her, and I bet she knew that. And that... that is enough because to her, I am sure that love meant everything.
We are privileged to have been able to provide you comfort sweet Gracie. Rest in peace.
To everyone at Frosted Faces Foundation and to every other animal care worker out there, the rest of us humans are privileged, as well - we are privileged to live in a world where people like you exist.
You can read Gracie's full story on Frosted Faces Foundation's Facebook Page
It is incredibly important that animal care workers practice self-care. If you or someone you know is suffering from compassion fatigue, here is some information that may help.