Sometimes We Cry


“I have never been at a point in life doing that which has me so fulfilled, yet so shattered at the same time.” ~ A note received from a fellow volunteer upon the loss of a dog

To My Fellow Rescuers:

This week has been a tough one at the rescue, full of unexpected loss. Some were the beloved companions of our fellow volunteers. Those, we understand, grieve, and celebrate for the time we had together.

Others, sent to us too late, were with us for too short a time. We did not even have a chance to know them. We grieve their loss equally – but we cannot understand.

Because we take dogs regardless of their age or health, we are increasingly sent very sick and frail dogs pulled from shelters by rescue organizations and then transferred to us with scant – or inaccurate – information.

Armchair rescuers, whose only effort is social media, feel good that these poor pups were “freed.” The stats of the shelter and other rescue organization look better for not having euthanized an animal.

Don’t get me wrong: there should be a special place in hell for people who leave their devoted, but aged and sick companions in a shelter to die.  But a note to my fellow rescuers: putting a dog that is obviously in its final days through a one or two day journey “to safety” is not the humane thing for the dog. And it takes a human toll on the volunteers on the other end who are helpless to do anything but to let the dog go peacefully – if we even get that chance. We may only have known the dog for hours or days, but we still carry the weight of that loss.

We help hundreds of dogs on their journeys home each year. There are countless canine lives saved and human lives touched. There are miracles, and, along the way, there are inevitable losses – and yes, even rare failures. We’re strong, but we’re not Teflon. Our hearts break, too. So please, fellow rescuers, act with your heads as well as your hearts – for the dogs’ sake if not for ours.

Sometimes we lose; sometimes we fail; sometimes we cry – and that is the price of trying.

Sometimes we know, sometimes we don’t
Sometimes we give, sometimes we won’t
Sometimes we’re strong, sometimes we’re wrong
Sometimes we cry

Sometimes it’s bad when the going gets tough
When we look in the mirror and we want to give up
Sometimes we don’t even think we’ll try
Sometimes we cry

Well we’re gonna have to sit down and think it right through
If we’re only human what more can we do

Sometimes we cry. ~ Van Morrison

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I am a nascent gardener, rescuer, and photographer, chronicling the journey of the dogs at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary near Sacramento, CA - and the Memorial Garden we have devoted to them.

20 thoughts on “Sometimes We Cry”

  1. I had no idea that such a practice took place. I hope this reaches those who need to hear it. Thank you for your big, strong and vulnerable hearts.

    My own Slinky Malinki, a shiny black cat, rescued from the streets six years ago, died Monday night in our home. I’ve been grief stricken at the loss, even though we knew she was at the end of her life. I can’t begin to imagine abdicated the end of life to a shelter. Heartbreaking.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss. We all wish that they could spare us the hardest decision, but when they cannot – we owe them a kind and dignified departure surrounded by love.

  2. Thank you so much for saying what needed to be said. And so beautifully written, and ditto what Amy said. ❤ and 😥

  3. I’ve seen too many stories of aged, sick dogs being left at shelters to die lately. It breaks my heart for the poor dogs. And fills me with a terrible desire to see the owners meet a similar fate. I hope your message reaches peoples’ minds as well as their hearts. I’m sorry you and your fellow Homeward Bound rescuers have experienced so much loss lately. My heart goes out to all of you.

  4. I am so sorry for your extra burdens of suffering and for the suffering these neglected beings have suffered at the end of their lives. Peace and gentle peace. I pray for greater wisdom in the world at large and far greater compassion in the way we treat those dependent upon us.

  5. Beautifully written and hits the target. Rescue work is so hard on the heart and these incidents are an unnecessary burden to the volunteers and the poor dog that needs a peaceful parting. In the past 5 years 4 senior Goldens (3 from HBGRR) have graced our home, two are still here. We love then all. Bless HBGRR and all rescue groups. Sharing this information helps everyone.

  6. You are such a blessing not only to the precious dogs you take in and care for but a blessing to each family that has been touched by you. ❤️

  7. I cried while receiving that transport last weekend, I cried upon hearing the tolls of the week, I cried upon returning to the ranch on Saturday…missing the ones we lost but seeing the progress of those we didn’t. Despite the tears, there is no place I’d rather be and no people I’d rather cry with. So on point, and so beautiful…

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