Friday, May 12, 2017

San Francisco Panorama

McSweeney's No 33 San Francisco Panorama
Weight: 3.4 lbs
Method of Disposal: Donated to Goodwill

I see hard things every day.  I watch baby kittens die for reasons completely unknown to us as humans, though mama cat seems to know which will live and which won't.  We fight nature.  I watch dog's hearts break into thousands of pieces while their owners drop them off and don't look back.  A mom telling her children in a chipper tone, "kiss your dog goodbye but don't touch him with your lips!"  Dogs with chemical burns all over their body.  Dogs who will live but are currently so sick that the life seems to leave their eyes, and they just lay in a heap in a cage no matter how much affection you shower on them.  I see dogs and cats being misunderstood. Every. Day.  People say, "that dog is just mean."  Really, she is just terrified and having the worst 6 months of her entire life.  I jump from one broken heart to the next to the next to the next.  This description is of just some of the animals I cared for this week.  Sometimes, the animal will be busting at the seams with gratitude and joy, which is wonderful and, yet, still so sad that they expect so little out of life that 15 minutes with me is enough to change their world.

I rarely break down.  I always power on.  After 10 years you would think I had seen it all, but I still get surprised almost weekly.  Then something not surprising at all, that I have seen many times before, will hit me with all the force of my first day all those years ago and my stomach will turn and my breath will leave me.  It catches me completely off guard.  The other day we sent a senior mastiff to be spayed.  She'd had many many litters, but we had her for awhile and she showed no signs of pregnancy.  She's old and ready to retire.  The vet tech brought her back, and the dog had the most forlorn expression.  The tech said, "She had one big baby in there.  She couldn't have passed it anyway." A solitary puppy.  But it was the word "big" wasn't it?  Or the expression on the dog's face?  Or the fact that she would have to "sleep it off" in a kennel all by herself along with all the other suffering pets.  No peace, no giant dog bed in a cozy home with doting humans.  She was truly and completely on her own.  More alone now, as her one big baby would have died or had to been euthanized after the spay.  No one expected to find that baby. She likely did not expect to lose it.  She just woke up, and it was gone.  Maybe it was painful but a relief or maybe it was devastating,  Her face seemed to tell me it was the ladder.

I wanted to bring her home but, with 5 dogs of my own and 3 foster dogs, all of which had made my stomach turn at some point, I knew I had nothing left to give her and, even if I could take her home, I would have to leave all the other broken hearts behind.  I covered her in a warm blanket from the dryer, pet her, spoke gently and then left with my partner to try to rescue two feral kittens who had been abandoned at the fire department.  No time to cry or to register what had happened to that beautiful mastiff.  It haunts me, like so many other things, though she was much happier today when I saw her just a couple days into her recovery.  I am so ready to see that dog go home and know that her new family will not have to carry the sadness of having seen her that day.  That they will be able to look at her and love her with pride and not the guilt of closing the cage and walking away from her on what may have been the worst or one of the worst days of her entire life. 

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