As we rapidly (and eagerly) enter the fourth quarter of 2020, many of us will give thought to our accomplishments in light of all the unique challenges and new stressors we faced in our work, personal as well as our volunteer work lives this year. Dog Star leadership will reflect by reviewing the annual financial targets, volunteer goals, the number of dog lives we have already saved and will save by year end.
The dogs we help are on an incredible journey to their final home which starts with selection of dogs from front line partners. This work, in and of itself, can be a gut wrenching process because selection inevitably results in a decline to help many dogs on a weekly basis without ever knowing the end result of the “no” answer. Lets not forget about fostering, screening, transport, IT, accounting, fundraising, events, medical, marketing, behavior and all of the other many functions that tie together for one dog adoption.Rescue is not easy!
Most of us are preconditioned to strive to achieve the goal we set, or, if possible, exceed it. Not reaching that goal feels like a failure, or a deficiency in some way – even though we may have made tremendous progress from where we began. Due to the pandemic, we have seen an increase in demand for rescue dogs as well as an increase in volunteer interest which turned our business plan upside down. COVID-19 very quickly caused us to modify most of our operational processes and also operate over-capacity in some areas, stretching our strong volunteers beyond their limits to keep the rescue open, saving dogs. Every hour volunteered, dollar donated, or kind act completed is in and of itself a valuable and a significant success.
With our hard earned successes, came many more bumps, twists and turns (sometimes daily) than expected which had a multitude of impacts on us as we pushed through this time period unlike any of us has experienced – pandemic, social unrest, political divide, economic hardships and more. The change in our everyday life activities has impacted our priorities and the ability to volunteer maybe even resulting in having to take a break from volunteering. If you feel that “all” you have done was to help at an event, transport or take a dog to a vet appointment……… remember that every small task is a huge help for that particular dog. I say “all” in quotations, because to that one dog the effort was everything. It may not have fixed all the problems, but it mattered, a lot.
Personally, I have been fortunate to be able to witness firsthand the big picture positive impact our volunteer group had on the many dogs we saved and the community. It has been heartwarming to see how the team has really come together. Even when we couldn’t fix a negative situation, or solve every problem, we have not been discouraged and have done everything possible with the resources and time available. This is reflected in weekly compliments we receive from adopters, partners and every organization we make contact with.
This year we coined the term “Perfectly Imperfect” for our dogs with challenges. That term applies to this year and in many ways, all of us (at least me). Our diverse group somehow came together, under the hardest circumstances, to attain what looks to be a record dog saving year. Perfection is not realistic but as a team supporting each other for our common mission, we have been able to achieve outstanding results. We are not perfect!
I appreciate each and every volunteer hour donated, I am inspired by the work we’ve done, and the work yet to come this year to guide our dogs to the brighter lives they deserve.
President, Dog Star Rescue