I’ve been told that when you’re vegan, you save approximately a hundred lives a year. I don’t doubt that statistic, but I’m having trouble feeling like I’ve actually made an impact. Yes, I am no longer directly impacting the lives of farmed animals by buying products manufactured using them. But I do not feel that the market has changed since I did. I do not feel like lives are actually being spared because I am no longer making those purchases. I feel like there’s just going to be more meat eggs and milk going on rapid-sale to get it sold before the expiry date because I didn’t buy them. I know the market will eventually change, as more people make ethical decisions. My previous purchasing/consumption habits are haunting me; I just don’t feel like I can take any solace in the fact that I’ve impacted some animal’s lives for the better.
In order to feel useful, I agreed to take in a foster dog a few weeks ago, even though I knew that my dogs probably weren’t going to be thrilled with the idea of it. But this dog had a tough time keeping a foster home, and his previous “parents” were on the brink of euthanizing before a friend of mine took him into her small rescue agency, saving him. Initially I thought I’d be able to manage and help him, but his issues were much more intense that I initially thought, and I had a rude awakening to the fact that I really know nothing about dog behaviour (something I’m looking to change over time). He had aggression behaviours that were more widespread and intense than I was able to handle. I was a little afraid of him at times, even had nights where my dogs and I slept on my couch and left this dog alone in my room simply so that I could visit the bathroom and kitchen without having to get past him while he was growling. I didn’t want to give up on him though. I was mortified about what might happen if I couldn’t handle him, given that I was the fourth foster home that he had been placed in since his removal. I struggled for a long time with what I should do. I have the resources to help these kinds of behaviours in people, so I thought I’d be able to help him. But a trainer convinced me that I was not a failure because I could not help him, that I wouldn’t beat myself up if I couldn’t rehabilitate an elephant or bear; I don’t know their language so I don’t know how to read them. So I conceded and we began looking for somewhere else for him to go. He was able to go back to the second woman who fostered him temporarily (he was amazing with her, she just didn’t have room for him initially) and we actually found an amazing young woman who has a history of helping aggressive dogs looking to adopt him. So, thankfully he gets a happy ending and a chance to keep living his adorable life. I played a part in that, so I need to be proud. But I still have trouble shaking the feeling of failure.
After it was back to just me and my critters at home, I was coming home from a walk with my dogs, and I saw a dead mouse on the road. I went to move it to the grass so it wouldn’t get squished, and discovered that it wasn’t actually dead. It was incredibly muddy, fur was all separated, feet were so encrusted that they looked infected; barely moving. So I scooped the poor thing up in my dog’s ball launcher, and carried it home in that. That’s how little it was moving… it let me do that. I brought it home, and gave it a bath. It perked right up and I had a hard time getting it out of my sink. The little bugger eventually got out of the little habitat I had set up, so I guess that means they were feeling better. I had intended to release him/her back to the spot where I had picked them up after they were looking better, but they beat me to it. No sign of them since, so I assume they didn’t run into my cat. So I’m hoping that turned out for the best.
The main thing is, I need to focus on the differences I’ve made in the lives of my fur babies. I may not be changing the world, but I’ve changed their worlds. My cat no longer sits in an empty room at the OSPCA. My first dog no longer lives in a kennel only getting outside twice a day if he’s lucky, and doesn’t run the risk of being put back into a semester or year of testing/experiments. My second dog no longer is starving on the streets. But I keep forgetting that I’ve helped them, cuz they’re just here with me and I love them and this is our life now.