Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The cycle continues

Submitted by EARS volunteer Margaret Blackman of Oshawa, Ontario

There is a cycle to any deployment. First there is the adrenaline rush as you deploy, then the heartache as you see the destruction, or in this case, the terrible condition of the animals. Next comes the joyous moments as each animal makes their personal breakthroughs and we get to know the individual personalities of each one.

Today's cycle was the bittersweet one, as we started to say goodbye some of our charges as they left for their individual foster homes. It is a bit like sending your children off on their first day of school. Are they prepared? Have we helped them to develop enough skills in the short time they were in our care? Does this coat fit? Is this sweater warm enough for the ride?

Have we sent enough information for the foster home (such as the ones who will not eat from bowls yet)? Volunteers would see an empty cage and say, "Oh has XXX left yet? I didn't get to say goodbye." Several volunteers dashed out without coats to say good-bye as a crate was loaded into the waiting van. We knew they were in good hands with the young man who volunteered to drive them to the first handoff point (about 400km round trip).

The afternoon was easier with fewer cages to clean, but it was also more difficult; passing by the empty cages where XXX had wagged a tail at us this morning. Someone would say "Oh, I need to check if XXX ate today," then realize that dog was miles away.

It is the natural cycle of a deployment. We know this. We understand this. That does not mean that it is easy.

Today is my birthday. I did not say anything about it all day at the shelter. My celebration was watching each crate being loaded into vehicles, giving each one a new life. That is the best celebration of my birth and life that I could think of.

Old friendships have been renewed, new friendships have been made. Tomorrow I return home -- to my life and my waiting furry companions.

And the cycle will continue ...


  1. Happy Birthday Margaret, and thanks for your help with the furbabies.

  2. Hello Janell, Margaret and all,
    Happy Birthday Margaret. Thanks to all for guiding me through my first deployment. What an experience. It's assuring to know that for every puppy mill seizure, there's a small army prepared to do the right thing.
    Thanks again,

  3. Margaret, you put it so beautifully. That is EXACTLY what a deployment feels like, and that is why we do it. I couldn't have said it better myself.

  4. Happy Birthday Margret, what a way to start a new year! You have a lot of good karma coming your way.
    Wow, you described EARS deployment so eloquently. It's a very difficult job and takes very special people to be able to do it. And to do it so incredibly well is a true example of the EARS team's spirit. Letting go of them is one of the hardest parts, that just means we did it right. Job well done.

  5. Margaret - belated happy birthday and I have tears pouring down my face after reading about the emotions felt doing this wonderful but difficult thing. Bless you and everyone who helped...

  6. Margaret Blackman12/19/08, 6:11 AM

    People have asked me how I coped with what I saw during my deployment. I will confess to trepidation about what I might see, what condition the animals might be in, as I prepared to deploy. I knew that I HAD to go, I used to live and do rescue in Montreal; I knew what was behind those barn doors. But, yes, I was afraid. I have been a foster mom for mill dogs, but by the time they reached me, they had been cleaned up and received their medical care.

    My EARS training was 1.5 years ago, but the words of our trainers came back to me as I moved through the days. Our training is not only about shelter function and management; the emotional cycle is discussed and explained. I could hear Colleen's voice talking about volunteers' reactions after their Katrina deployments. Knowing what emotions to expect and knowing the cycle is "normal" certainly helped me to cope.

    Thank you to the UAN and to all my EARS team mates; like those jugs of bleach, individually we are not much, together we are a force (and the HSUS/HSI/CSPCA teams as well. The synergy between our agencies is virtually seamless. Each has a different function to reach our common goal and the flow between agencies and functions is a joy to watch.)

    This was my first deployment, it most certainly is not my last.


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