Sometimes I feel like a bit of a sham. Like some bleeding heart softie, weak in the knees, and about ready to crumble, yet all the while waltzing around in a shiny defensive coat of imaginary thick-skinned armor; standing tall and maintaining a stiff upper lip, no matter what the circumstance.
This particular feeling is most pronounced when answering the single most common question I get asked by fellow animal lovers about our work rescuing and working with animals in need on both sides of the border over the past 15 years. It usually goes something like this:
“ I just don’t know how you do it….how do you choose who lives and who doesn’t and how can you stand to see all that the suffering?”
You’d think after all this time I’d have a solid answer, right? Nope. I usually make some oversimplified comment about how you just have to focus on those you do save, those you can help, and carry on so you can make a difference. This is true, of course, but implies an incredibly precise, narrow perspective that is much neater and simpler to express than what I actually feel.
The truth is, I think a lot about the ones we leave behind and the ones we couldn’t help. I think about their faces. I think about their lives. I think about them, every detail of them. Those sweet souls that we were not in a position to help at that moment in time.
And somehow, collectively, it is these very animals who push me forward the most. It is precisely because of them, rather than in spite of them, that I invariably have the courage to dress up again in that tentative coat of armor and head back out to the battlefield.
In fact, these are the animals who are heavy on my mind today as I pack my bags and head south to open a stationary spay/neuter and veterinary wellness clinic in a region of Mexico where we have worked for the last few years.
As I prepare for the trip, I find myself thinking of all those pups that were too ill to save the last time we were down there. The many dogs we were not able to rescue. The hollow-eyed, mangy momma dog on the side of the road scrounging for food. Her mangy pups following not far behind. These animals are here with me now.
In many ways, I suppose the real answer to the question above is that we don’t actually leave those animals behind. Each time we are not able to save an animal, to provide rescue or care, we carry back with us a piece of their story & then weave it together to provide the very armor we need to get back out there and continue to help those that we can.
And so, wrapped in their memory and inspired by each and every one of those lives, Mexico here we come… we can do this.
-Christi Camblor, DVM