Not long ago, a beautiful girl was rescued by one of the shelters we partner with in Spain. She had cascading health issues and before we knew it, she was gone. Like so many before her, she touched hearts around the world. One of those she touched sent me this question:
"I kept asking myself.....why am I shedding tears (I admit it!!) for a dog in Spain when there are dogs a few miles from my own house in need? . . . I guess I feel a bit guilty for caring so much about the Spanish dogs......wonder if it's a good thing or what."
First and foremost, never, ever feel guilty or ashamed for feeling empathy for another living creature in pain. Empathy--the ability to understand and share in another's feelings--is what makes us human. I think the heart of the question, though, is about resources. Should we feel guilty for spending time, money, energy--all of which are limited resources--on helping dogs so far away when there are dogs much closer who need help?
Well, if love was easy there would be no love songs. We don't help those who are the closest or the neediest. We help those who call to our hearts. We don't rescue those that are the easiest to rescue--for the same reason teachers don't teach the smartest and doctors don't heal the healthy. We don't do it because it is our responsibility. We do it because it is our PASSION. I have volunteered to do things for dogs that there is no amount of money you could pay me to do.
At the end of the day, we rescue because we are called to by our hearts--not our heads. As a teacher I enjoyed the challenge of working with Special Needs children. As a rescue, I enjoy the challenge of working with Special Needs dogs. That is where MY heart calls me.
There are so many rescuers out there and they each have their own specialty. Some rescue little dogs, some rescue big dogs, some rescue blind dogs or black dogs or three-legged dogs. Some rescue specific breeds. There are groups specializing in rescuing retired racing Greyhounds in just about every state in the country and there are transports moving Greyhounds from tracks every weekend. People are organized and they are ON it! So no, I'm not going to feel guilty for following my passions.
The Galgos don't have a network of coordinated volunteers. Right now most of the Galgo rescuers are barely keeping their heads above water. The challenges the Spanish shelters face and the terrible abuse they see every day is beyond what most of us can imagine. Just one person can make a huge difference. WE make a huge difference. THIS is our passion. It doesn't matter to us if the dogs are in another country or on another continent. They deserve our help.
We can’t look away and we won't walk away. And yes, we hope you will join us.
6 thoughts on “Message from the SHUG Director: If Love Was Easy There Would Be No Love Songs”
This really hits home right now. Last night we found a stray pit roaming the neighborhood and we put him in an unoccupied back yard until animal control could pick him up. I couldn’t go to bed without checking on him because it was “chilly” outside. When I went to feed him in the morning and realized that it had rained, I felt pretty bad.
PS. I’m still holding out for my #2 black long haired girl. 😉
Thank you for this. You said everything I was feeling. People have made comments about me buying a dog but it’s not the same. Yes, I can adopt a greyhound for a fraction of the price but I’m not buying a galgo. If they only knew what happens to these dogs and the limited resources the groups have and the awful government that looks the other way. Yes, dogs are euthenized in the US every day but that’s not what’s happening in Spain. They are tortured and abused. I wish I could save them all and that no dog would be unwanted and have to die but at least in the US, it’s humane.
thank you for this blog entry. thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart! sometimes i feel crazy because of my passion to rescue sighthounds from abroad even though our shelters are full to the brim. but no, i am not. i simply do what do because i am being called to by my heart.
be never still, my beating heart.
Everyone has the right to spend his/her time, money and effort to save dogs wherever they want but I do want to clarify one point. Not all shelters in the US use humane means to destroy dogs. Many still use gas chambers where many dogs are killed at the same time, dying at different rates with puppies dying the slowest, with dogs sometimes attacking each other during the process. Others use heartsticks where needles are plunged into the animal’s heart to kill them. I am not saying this to change anyone’s mind but to make sure you have the facts when making your decisions.
Thank you for putting into words what I’ve been feeling but couldn’t even explain to myself. I kept telling myself that I was nuts when I adopted my galga but it was what I had to do. Now I know…