Things to be Grateful For – By an Animal Rescuer

We are grateful for:

Our Animal Friends, who give us more than we could ever give in return. Many of them have seen a hell that we pray we never experience, and yet they still find room in their hearts to live, love and forgive. Every day they remind us of why we’ve chosen to do this job.

Our Patient Families, who still love us in spite of ourselves. We know we suck. We know we are always feeding, cleaning, feeding, mucking, feeding, dumping grain bags, etc. etc. until we pass out at night before we get around to answering that last text. We mean well, but . . . we are asleep, often before our youngest grandchildren. Thank you for understanding when we miss important events because there is nobody else to feed and muck. Our hearts are there, and we love you always.

Our Patient Friends, who, like our family, know the best way to have any quality time with us, is to show up, pick up a muck rake, and follow us around. Again, we know we suck. We wish we could do the social scene the way normal people can, but . . . we can’t. I haven’t sat in a Starbucks for at least three years . . . maybe four . . . who knows, it’s a blur. Those who stick it out with us, thank you. Those who continue to invite us to social events despite knowing we will have to decline, thank you. It makes us feel “normal,” and that maybe one day . . . we might just be able to say yes . . . we are grateful that you still hope we might . . .

Our Volunteers, who come out and help us to do a really hard, crappy job, for the sheer joy of being near the animals. You rejoice with us with every new rescue, you cry with us when we lose a dear friend. You make us feel we are not in this alone, and for that, well, there are no words to describe our gratitude.

Our Donors . . . we know there are so many other things you could opt to do with your money, and we know how hard you work to earn it. That you choose to help us feed and care for nearly 150 rescued animals is humbling; we never feel we are worthy enough, doing enough, rescuing enough . . . the fact that you believe in what we do inspires us to keep slogging through the mud, both metaphorical and physical, every single day. We are grateful that you love our animals . . . and all animals . . . and we stand in awe of your generosity and kindness.

Our Veterinarians, who probably think we are crazy, but are kind enough not to mention it, at least not in front of us. You are patient when we are panicked, you risk your lives and possible speeding tickets to get to us in emergencies, you are gentle when we have to say goodbye to our dear animal friends, and sometimes even cry alongside us. You are patient when we struggle to pay our bills, and grateful that you know we always will, no matter how long it takes or how much harder we have to work. How you put up with this crazy animal rescue farm, we will never know, but . . . for you, we are deeply grateful.

Our Strong Bodies, which, by all rights, should have given up on us a long time ago. They go above and beyond, shoveling miles of knee-deep (and sometimes hip-deep) snow so we can get to the paddocks with heavy feed buckets and water. They lift dozens of 50-pound bags of grain, push a thousand pounds of manure to the pile every day, carry 150 pound ailing goats and sheep into the barns, carry and hammer fence boards, and so much more. Every single day, despite their age and wear and tear. My quads should just say no when I ask them to help me trim a herd of goat hooves in an afternoon, and yet they hang in there with me until I’m done . . . doing their best to stay as willing as my heart.

Our Battered, Shattered Hearts, which should have run screaming into the night years ago. We ask them to fall in love over, and over, and over again, knowing we are only setting them up for a fall, as we will almost always outlive our rescued babies. The pain never lessens . . . in fact, it get more intense with time and loss. As we age, we only better learn the value of each perfect life that we have pulled from kill auctions, high-kill shelters, abuse, neglect, abandonment . . . every single one of them is precious to us and saying goodbye is always a knife to our hearts. Promising them as they leave us that we won’t give up, that we will stick it out and continue to save and care for as many as we can, is the next knife to the heart. And worst of all, the pain our hearts endure when we have to say “no,” fully aware that we have doomed a perfectly perfect and deserving living being to a terrifying and painful fate. Holy crap, the biggest dagger to the heart is when our trailer is full and we see the eyes of those we have to leave behind. And for them, we steel our hearts and keep going forward. What we ask of our hearts is impossible, and yet they valiantly keep beating.

Open-Minded People, who are brave enough to allow the animals to affect them, change them, and maybe even alter the way they move through this world, choosing to be more humane, caring and compassionate to our fellow Earthlings (because every living being is an Earthling, not just humans . . . we share this planet!) We know you are setting your hearts up for a lifetime of injury when you allow yourselves to feel how humans treat animals in this world. We also, however, know the joy you experience when you make a meaningful and deep connection. YOU are the hope for the future of our planet, one in which all of us, human and animal, live in harmony, caring for each other and our Mother Earth. And you are the ones who might someday make our jobs obsolete, so that my husband and I can maybe . . . just maybe . . . accept those social invitations that still trickle in on occasion from those who haven’t given up on us.

For you, and for all of the above, we are deeply and sincerely grateful, and we wish you joy, love and peace, on this holiday of gratitude, and always.

Kathleen Schurman and her poor, long-suffering husband, David, are owned by the animals of Locket’s Meadow in Bethany, Connecticut. They will be very grateful for a vegan Thanksgiving dinner with their family later today (yes, there will be roast tofu!) Of course, only after the animals are fed and watered . . .



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