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By Liz R Kover
Marleys Mutts Dog Rescue 

Gift of Presence

It's A Dog's Life


A fellow animal rescuer and friend of mine asked a poignant and thought-provoking question. His text message read, "At the end of the day with all you do and all you see and the stories you hear, how do you sleep at night?"

The short answer is that after all we do and all we see and the stories we hear in a day's work with Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue, we are utterly exhausted. The longer answer explains how I believe it is that we are able to go to bed exhausted, but not defeated. How we are able to get up the following morning and do it all over again.

In animal rescue, the work is never done and is often horrific, so – one might wonder – do we desensitize ourselves to the implicit negatives that are the inevitable side effect of caring? No, because that would mean deadening ourselves to feeling. Not just to pain but to all of it. And I am firm believer that we are here – having this sublime and surreal human experience – for the distinct purpose of feeling our emotions. Not just some of them but all of them.

Then, how do we manage the overflow of emotion we feel at seeing dogs that have been dumped and burned and hanged and beaten and injured and discarded? We use it as fuel. We use the anger and sadness that could hold us back to instead propel us forward. We take conscious action to set our spirits free when we can, in an effort to maintain balance. For it is only when we practice sustainable use of our energy that we are of any benefit to the animals.

Personally? I run. I do yoga. I listen to stand-up comedy. I make photo and video art. I walk and hike and blade and board with dogs. I laugh and love; hurt and cry. I study and learn. I create and write. I grieve and heal. I'm working on lucid dreaming.

I love every dog that comes into my care – freely and completely – regardless of how long they are with me or under what circumstance. I try to stay in the moment; the central, constant now, inside which I am able to see the beauty in every single experience life has to offer – pleasant or unpleasant. The moment is always fleeting, but it is where dogs exist. It is from this place that dogs give us the gift of presence: theirs and our own.


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