My favorite job in the world is working full-time rehabilitating shelter dogs. The thought of it still fills my heart to the brim with every feeling imaginable. To build relationships, learn how to communicate, foster trust, and teach compassion has changed who I am as a person. Shelter work is physically demanding, emotionally draining, and rewarding and fulfilling. There are challenges you would never imagine, and situations that test your ability to stay calm while feeling like you are in an episode of the Twilight Zone.
A hard reality of shelter work is returned adoptions. Every employee and volunteer dies a little inside when one of their beloved animals, one that they put work, training, hopes and time into and celebrated their release from the shelter, is returned. Some reasons are valid; others, not so much. We have heard it all. Some stories tear us apart, and others just add to a quiet uncomfortable belief that people are awful, and that's all there is to it.
For us at Have Mercy, we needed compassion to be at the forefront. We needed to feel like we were still making a difference. We needed to offer families more resources to help their rescue dogs learn the manners necessary to keep them in the homes.
This is now our mission.