Who Is Mistral Dawn?

Mistral Dawn is a thirty-something gal who has lived on both coasts of the US but somehow never in the middle. She currently resides in the Southeast US with her kitty cats (please spay or neuter! :-)) where she works as a hospital drudge and attends graduate school. Taken By The Huntsman is her first effort at writing fiction and if it is well received she has ideas for several more novels and short-stories in this series. Please feel free to visit her on FaceBook or drop her a line at mistralkdawn@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

#Coping #Strategies & #Survival

Hey Everyone!! :-)

Today's excerpt from An Animal Rescuer's Guide To Staying (Relatively) Sane is kind of long.  And I've already written quite a bit on this blog about how important it is to be kind to yourself and take care of your own emotional well-being, so I'm going to keep this short.  The picture above is Squeaky and he's cuddling his own security-object, a stuffed purple lamb. :-)

Some Things You Need To Come To Terms With And/Or Remember Continued:
4. While doing rescue you will see people at their best and you will see people at their worst. You will see cruelty that will break your heart and turn your stomach, and you will witness acts of self-sacrifice and love that will take your breath away. You need to learn to reign in your feelings without squashing them. The day you stop feeling for the animals that you are helping, is the day you need to give up rescue. But at the same time, you can’t take an ax to people who are dumping off their pet; even if they are the tenth person that day to do so. You need to find a way to deal with the ups and downs that are a part of rescuing. If that means crying, cry. If that means screaming, scream. If that means writing long winded manuals on how to do rescue, then do that. Whatever works for you, do it. Just try to make sure you do it at the appropriate time. Some things that I've found effective or that I've heard mentioned by other rescue workers include the following.

Take time out for yourself. Whatever it is that you like to do and that helps you relax, make sure you set time aside for it. This may be taking a bath, reading a novel, watching a movie, having coffee with friends, etc. Whatever it is, do it. Don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself, if you’re not okay, none of the animals in your custody will be okay. It is really important to try to establish some balance in your life, and that needs to include personal time and space. If you make your entire life about animal rescue, you will burn out quickly. Have a time that is set aside for just you, and don’t let anything (within reason, of course. It’s hard to ignore a tornado, etc.) interfere with your time. I’m serious, this really needs to be a part of your schedule. If you figure you will just take time when you find it, you will never find it. Also, have some space set aside in your home for just you, with no animals (or maybe just your personal pets, no rescues). This space doesn’t need to be large, a bedroom or a bathroom will do, but it does need to be inviolate. It is not space that you can use to take in another "emergency" rescue (this is where being able to say no can become a challenge, but you have to do it), it is space that is set aside for YOU. Period.

Learn to recognize a lost cause. This can very occasionally refer to an animal. Sometimes you just have to let them go because there is nothing else to be done, though I have at times seen true miracles pulled out of a hat, and everything you can do will just prolong their suffering. A good indication of when you have reached this point is when more than one vet whose opinions you trust has told you that not only is there nothing more that can be done, but that the animal is in pain. At this point, there is nothing you can do beyond extending the kindness of ending their pain. No matter how difficult and painful this may be for you, it is the best thing for the animal. However, this more often applies to people. There are some people who you are just not going to be able to convince. No matter how much you talk to them, how well-reasoned your arguments are, how much evidence you show them, they are going to continue to be irresponsible and/or cruel. Arguing with these people will accomplish nothing beyond frustrating you. Sometimes there are steps you can take within the legal system to check these people’s activities. Sometimes this is a good idea, but sometimes it just makes the situation worse. The legal system is far from perfect when it comes to exacting justice for humans. The laws pertaining to animals are often worse than a joke. It’s not fair, but it is reality. It’s one of the things we are working to change. Sometimes, as hard as it may be, as unfair and insufficient as it may seem, as much of a problem as it may cause, you just have to let it go. Letting go is one of the hardest lessons you will learn as a rescuer. But if you dwell on these situations you will drive yourself mad. Remember item number 1: You are human. You don’t control everything and you have a finite amount of energy. That doesn’t mean you give up the fight entirely; you just have to learn to pick your battles.

Unplug the phone. Your phone, whether it be a cell phone or a land line, is there for your convenience, not that of others. If you are not in the frame of mind or mood to talk to someone, don’t. It’s that simple. If it is important, they can leave a message or call back. You are under no obligation to pick up the phone if you don’t want to. The world will not end if you are out of range of communication for a while. And don’t feel as though you need to make excuses either. It’s nobody’s business why you didn’t answer. If someone is rude and obnoxious enough to ask you why you didn’t pick up, try asking, “why do you ask?” If they persist change the subject. Some of these obnoxious people will play the ‘I’m going to call you every three seconds until you pick up’ game. That is why I said unplug the phone (or turn it off). Don’t let anyone bully or guilt you into doing something you don’t want to do. You are doing this work out of the goodness of your heart, so you don’t owe anybody anything. This goes for email too.

This is not a comprehensive list of coping strategies, but it is a good place to start. If you have any things that have worked particularly well for you, please feel free to add them. This guide is meant to be a continuously evolving work, so please feel free to change it as needed.


  1. I am so glad that the animals in your area have you to advocate for them.I watch several shows on TV that are animal rescue, and I also donate money to several rescues every month to help take care of animals. I receive mail from many different animal rescues asking .e to donate, I love to help as much as I can, but I get added to many other rescue programs because the ones I do donate to sell my name and address and that really ticks me off. I have rescued soooo many animals in my life, starting from about age 6 and my mom would always say oh god not another animal Kim lol. I have rescued mice, gerbils, hampsters, cats, dogs, 2 doves, a salamander, dogs, and have had many animals die in my arms which is heart braking. The last one was my kitty Scully, but thank god she went w help from my amazing local vet, and loosing Bonnie in my arms just about killed me. She had a seizure in her cage and died of a stroke in my arms and my hubby buried her in my back yard, that was 6 years ago and my hubby refuses to let me have another one. And I agree with you 1000% about not answering your phone, I won't pick up my cell unless I know who it is; and sometimes not even then, they just leave me a message and I will call or text them back at my convenience not at theirs. Keep doing what you are doing, you are a very kind and strong women and we need more like you❤

    1. That's awesome that you're so generous! I'm sure the rescue groups you help appreciate it. But you're right, it's really annoying when people give your number out without your permission. I'm glad your babies have had you to help them through, but you're right, it's hard when they leave. I hope your hubby relents soon, because I know it's also hard when you don't have a furry baby to cuddle. :-/ *hugs!*