The Theory of Relativity -Christi Camblor, DVM

It is 122 degrees outside. That’s hot. Really hot. I’m in the middle of the Mojave desert headed dead east, then due south to Mexico for a dog rescue.


I had thought it was hot in Sonoma County, where I live, for the past few days leading up to this trip. Temperatures hit triple digits during a scorching heat wave that broke North Coast records. I, along with everyone around me, found it unbearably hot, retreating to insulated, air-conditioned spaces and seeking out shade.

It was less than 48 hours ago that my family and I, sweaty and red faced, loaded up the rescue van and headed out, wondering how we were going to handle the desert heat.


I had thought I was hot in Santa Rosa. And, indeed I was. But not hot like this. Not burn your hand on the surface of the door handle hot. Not singe your eyelashes if you take your sunglasses off hot.

Even the cacti seem to be wilting.

It got me to thinking about the relative nature of experiences, perceptions, and mental frameworks. The theory of relativity, if you will; not in it’s traditional sense as it applies to the laws of physics, but in terms of the relative lens through which we form our moral constructs, experience our realities and determine the outer limits of what that reality actually even is.

This question, about the relative nature of reality, has been swirling around my mind a lot lately. Even before this mind-bending heat. Not so much because of the extreme weather, but because of the extreme suffering I have come to understand through our recent China dog rescue.

yulin.jpgCompassion Without Borders just took in 10 dogs from China. These beautiful animals were rescued from a slaughterhouse, part of the atrocious dog meat industry in China.

The “China 10” were rescued by CWOB supporter Odessa Gunn and the Animal Hope and Wellness foundation.

These 10 dogs are now ambassadors for the meat dogs of China. They also are helping bring awareness to the vile Yulin dog meat festival, which is held on the summer solstice each year in China. This morally bankrupt and utterly deplorable festival celebrates the ritualistic torture and killing of dogs under the misguided belief that if the dogs are tortured prior to slaughter they have added health benefits and increase male virility.

Accepting the China 10 into Compassion Without Borders rescue program meant educating myself about these issues, so that I could help to educate others.   For me, this meant finding reliable sources online and informing myself about what goes on, what can be done, and who is actively involved in the issue.


While reading the online articles, I would literally have to use my left hand to block out graphic online images of the dogs, crammed into rusty squeeze cages, being tortured…I could not take the photos.  I would keep my left hand up over the pictures, squint my eyes to blur the image, and try to focus on the text, the information I was seeking.

But their faces peeked out between my fingers and cracked my heart wide open.What I’ve learned about not only the China dog meat industry, but the global market, has left me with a burning in my heart and mind that is much, much hotter than the 122 degree desert air outside.


I have seen so much incredible joy in my 20 year career working in animal welfare, but I have also seen so very much suffering. And, like the heat, there exists a spectrum. A magnitude of severity that is, in some ways, relative.

An understanding that even when it seems as bad as it can get, it can actually somehow, someway get worse.

I have lived with this understanding for a long time. Whether it is the relative struggle of someone living below the poverty line in the US versus the harsh poverty that exists in the majority of the world, where 80 percent of humanity lives on $10 or less a day.

Or the suffering of a homeless dog in a US animal shelter versus one on the streets of Mexico, or in a dilapidated pen in a Mexican animal control center.

There is a spectrum of suffering, injustice, and tragedy and they do all exist in relation to one another.

But what I have come to realize is that the experience that someone has, that an animal has, that experience itself it is not relative to someone else’s, somewhere else’s, something else’s. It is their experience in that moment in time and space and it is what defines their entire reality.



scaredUSshelerSo that scared dog sitting in a climate-controlled shelter in the states, he is really, truly terrified. That may be the most frightened he’s ever been. He may be on the padded, air-conditioned side of the animal suffering spectrum, but he’s still suffering.

And that hungry dog roaming the streets of Mexico, struggling to make it through even just one more day, his struggle is real and it consumes his every moment.



And that poor sweet dog in that squeeze cage in Yulin, his terror is as real as it gets.

So, while suffering is relative in some ways, in other ways it isn’t.

Suffering is suffering. Whether here or there or anywhere. When you are in the middle of it your experience is in no way lessened or heightened by what may be going on somewhere else.

The spectrum of suffering does exist, but the experiences along that spectrum are not weighted against one another. They exist in a reality all their own.

And what I have also come to realize, time and time again, is that that spectrum of suffering is always matched with an equally expansive array of compassion.

Just when you thought your compassion couldn’t deepen any further; your all consuming love for the animals couldn’t burn any brighter; your commitment to creating a kinder world couldn’t be any firmer; somehow your heart cracks open just a bit wider and just like that you find yourself holding even more space for it all to fit inside.

Compassion Without Borders is built upon the very premise that suffering knows no geographic borders nor does its weight fall into relative categories and strata of severity.

Suffering is suffering. Just as compassion is compassion.

And with that said, now we must do all we can, {no matter how hot it is outside}, to face that suffering head on. Wherever we may find it.

Let’s stand up against it with the bravery it requires.

Let’s tackle it with the open heart it fears.

Let’s destroy and dismantle it with the burning love it cannot withstand .



Compassion knows NO Borders.

5 thoughts on “The Theory of Relativity -Christi Camblor, DVM

    1. I’m speechless 😶 CWOB is incredible. The work they do and the suffering they see, and keep going, is just amazing. They are saints and angels. I will continue to support them financially and in my prayers. God bless them all. ❤️🐶

  1. Christi I have loved and respected the work you both do..for many years, so glad you have shown a lens and light on this issue in China and other countries with the dog meat trade…

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