Our Limitations

I’m a pretty fortunate person to be in a position to foster these pups and help them grow up a little. I haven’t done it alone – the shelter staff are amazing, my neighbors and friends have come through for me in numerous ways, my boss is tolerant of my tardiness – but even so, it’s from a position of privilege that I’m able to ‘give’ for these animals.

So when people thank me for my hard work, or comment on my commitment, it feels weird. Don’t get me wrong, I love the praise (hmmm, therapy time needed to figure that one out…), but I realize that this is a mixture of selfish indulgence on my part and genuine donation of time, energy & love, no strings attached.

I keep thinking about my grandpa. He was a really smart guy who lived in the same house for his whole life in a small town in Wisconsin. He was a plumber, and local fix-it guy. He’d often forget to charge his customers, much to my grandma’s annoyance, and eventually died because of complications from inhaling something toxic while fixing someone’s old pipes for free. He set a good example for all of us – do what you love and everything will work out just fine.

My dad is cut from the same cloth. He still lives close to that little town. After every snowstorm, he’s out plowing his drive, and anyone else’s who can’t do it for themselves. And I know he does more than that, which he never tells anyone about.

This isn’t ‘community service’ for which you get credit and accolades. This is just human kindness. So I follow the tradition. I’m just doing my part.

But here’s the difference. I don’t seem to be able to help people. I didn’t open my house to a family in need. I don’t volunteer at COTS with any of their numerous successful programs. I’m not sure how I figured it out, but I discovered my limitations. I can work with animals, but not people. (It’ll take some mighty expensive therapy to figure that one out! Or maybe I’ll just spend a day petting the puppies and it will all become crystal clear.)

That’s what makes this world work. We all do what we can, when we can, for whomever we can. Karma. Give a little, get a little.

Missy (Momster) is back at the shelter tonight. She was more than interested in her new family’s cat; she wanted to eat it. They struggled with the decision. They love Missy. And they love their cat. But it’s not morally right to replace one animal with another. They are a wonderful, loving family and they’re doing the right thing. And now, we know for certain that Missy must be placed with a cat-less family.

It’s hard to face our own limitations. But we all have them.

Of course I wanted to bring her home with me tonight. But Kathy (the voice of reason) convinced me that it wasn’t fair to the puppies or Missy or myself.

As I tucked Missy into her new dorm-room at the shelter tonight, I envied her bed. She’s warm and cozy and cared for. She’s not scrounging for food from garbage cans, or sleeping under a bridge with one eye open. She’s not getting mauled by her 11 puppies. She’ll be more than just fine. She will find her forever family.

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