What shelter dogs can teach us about resilience
As a volunteer at a local animal shelter in Atlanta I am constantly amazed at the resiliency of shelter dogs. If a dog ends up at the rescue where I’ve volunteered for five and a half years, it first landed at one of the massive county shelters as a stray, owner surrender or as part of a court case—cruelty or neglect usually. Some of them come from truly terrible circumstances and have been treated terribly by someone yet you would never know it. A bigger smile or happier wag you will not find.
That resilience and the opportunity to find a true happily-ever-after for the dog is what keeps me going. Because there are definitely tough days. The days when a dog that is too damaged by his previous life or genetic makeup to be safely adopted is sent “over the rainbow bridge.” Two of my all-time favorites suffered that fate.
But that is thankfully rare where I volunteer, and the joy with which I’m greeted every time I step up to a dog’s kennel is my reward. We can learn a lot from the resilience of these dogs. They do not dwell on the past; they live in the moment of that treat or walk or pet.
Resigility—which literally has resilience as part of its name—truly strives to live up to our name and our vision to build resilience and agility for our clients and communities. Part of that is giving all employees four days a year to volunteer, helping strengthen our own communities. I, naturally, use my days for helping homeless dogs.
Specifically, I use those days to transport 10-20 dogs from overcrowded metro Atlanta shelters to rescues in the Northeast.
The trip is not for the faint of heart. We leave in the evening and drive through the night with two drivers. Our last transport a few weeks ago ended up taking 18.5 hours to upstate NY due to construction and wrecks along the way. But the joy at seeing the beautiful facilities they go to, the happiness with which they are received by staff and volunteers, and knowledge of how quickly they get adopted makes the grueling journey worthwhile.
If you’re looking for some inspiration to be more resilient in your own life, I encourage you to volunteer at a local rescue or county shelter. These sweet dogs who have experienced terrible circumstances in the past have found a way to experience joy again in the simplest thing: a walk in the park!