by Andrea Chilcote
Husky rescue organization, I see pain and suffering every day. I can choose to participate in it, lamenting the shame of it all. Or, I can choose to do something about it. On most days, my passion for helping surpasses the overwhelm I sometimes feel.
As anyone reading this post likely knows, a multitude of adoptable companion animals are put to death in shelters in this country every day. Why? While people can debate the root cause, irresponsible breeders, puppy mills, are one reason. My locale, Maricopa County in Arizona, is overwhelmed with homeless Huskies. Those who buy from pet stores or online breeders contribute to the problem, albeit unknowingly in many cases.
Consider Jonas. This sweet five-year-old boy was picked up as stray on September 25. He had a neck wound so infected it contained maggots. He also had a severe case of tick fever, and nearly bled to death after neuter surgery. On October 29, Lucky Huskies, a division of Lucky Dog Rescue, a 501c3 charity, was asked to take Jonas into our care, as he was at risk of imminent euthanasia. We stepped in to save him, and we’re seeing that he gets proper follow-up and medication. Despite what he has been through, Jonas has a gentle, loving disposition and wags his tail when his eyes meet a kind human. And, he has a purpose. His foster mom needs him as much as he needs her. I believe he’s getting stronger every day, because of the love he is giving as well as getting.
We cannot think or act in love or in harm toward another without affecting, in some small way, all others including ourselves. This truth becomes more evident to me each and every day. We are all connected. What we think, say and do to members of our planet – people and animals – as well as our earth itself, has profound and far-reaching impact.
Despite a full work schedule and many demands on my time, I am consumed by passion – compassion actually – for these huskies in need. And I know that many of you are equally consumed by passions of your own. Most all of us have some cause or mission that evokes a strong desire to contribute, make something better, or right a perceived wrong. We cannot help but be affected by the circumstances that surround us, because we are in relationship to one another. We are connected.
I love words, and writing gives me an opportunity to study them. The word “passion,” describes the drive to action I feel, and the deeper feeling underneath is “compassion.” The Latin root of the word passion is “suffering.” Compassion’s root is “to suffer with.” Ah, the addition of the word “with”… connection.
When I learned of Eli’s plight, I was consumed by passion to help him. Two-year-old Eli is a healthy young dog – physically. His special needs are behavioral. I was driven to save him when I learned that the majority of his young life was spent in a kennel, and he was to be put to death because he didn’t know how to interact properly with people and other animals.
Countless families purchase Huskies because of their good looks, but don’t research or consider their needs for exercise, training and mental stimulation. Eli has needed intense training and socialization, and we’re happy to say he is finally adoptable to a family who will continue his training.
My drive to help one more dog could easily be snuffed out if I allow myself to become overwhelmed by the great need beyond the one at hand. I’m reminded of the well-known starfish story in which a young girl’s refusal to be discouraged by the limitations of her own small efforts inspired others to join in and help. This is how connection works. We inspire one another.
Last week, I felt overloaded. My emotional state was at a low point, and I was exhausted. I even used the word “despair.” Then, I received a call that Arctic was to be euthanized that very day, due to the fact he was suffering from a serious yet treatable illness. I was at a crossroads. Of course, I said “yes” and we saved another precious soul, one of 22 such angels we’ve helped since May. Moments after I agreed to take him, I received a text from a former foster mom, stating “I miss the Huskies. Need any help?” Divinely inspired? Yes, I think so.
What is your passion at this very moment? You need only to step out your own world for a mere minute and you’ll be able to feel it. Make a choice to meet suffering with love, whether through a simple kind thought or an action. You’ll inspire the same in others even if it’s invisible to you. It’s how it works. Consider the difference you can make right now.