If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you've probably surmised that I like books! :-) They can be a wonderful escape when they contain stories, but they are also a font of information. Of course, books aren't the only source of information, and this post in my tongue-in-cheek Animal Rescuer's Guide To Staying (Relatively) Sane is about the different types of information you might need and how to make sure you have it when you need it. :-)
Some Things You Need To Come To Terms With And/Or Remember:
Create a few different libraries. Maybe this should have been lumped in with coping strategies or resources, but it is so important that I wanted it to stand out.
First, you are going to need a reference library. This library is going to be a collection of books and websites about the animals you are caring for. These books and websites are going to contain information about the physical needs of your charges, how to train them, signs and symptoms of illness, how to deal with behavioral problems, etc. This type of library is essential, but it is probably also the easiest to obtain. One caveat: make sure your sources are reliable ones. However, as a rescuer you are going to need more than just a reference library, you are going to need at least three other kinds of libraries.
The first alternate library you are going to need is going to be written by you and it is going to be entirely practical and similar to a reference library. When people find out you have been in rescue for a while (or even if you just started) they are going to ask your advice about certain things. After a while you will start to notice patterns in that people will ask you the same kinds of questions over and over. The questions will vary depending on what type of animals you work with, but every type of animal has some issues that tend to come up over and over again. For instance, with cats you get asked about litterbox issues and declawing a lot. Rather than come up with a unique response every time someone asks you these questions, write up and save some comprehensive guides and instructions on how to deal with the issue and just email them to people. Keep a library of these guides and you will save yourself some precious time.
Another alternate library you will need is for the purposes of humor. It will not, for the most part, be written by you. Though if writing such things yourself helps you deal with your feelings, go for it. This library will include essays, poems, jokes, rants, etc. written by people who have done rescue for a while. You can find these types of things if you look for them on the internet, but you will probably find that they will come to you without searching as people find out that you are doing rescue. These writings will sometimes be funny, often sad, and usually very honest. Sometimes they are all three at the same time. The purpose of these writings is to remind yourself that you are not alone in your work or in your feelings. Other people have been where you are and have survived. These really can come in handy at times and there is some overlap between this library and the previously mentioned library.
The third alternate library you will need is rather macabre but unfortunately necessary. It will consist of pictures. These pictures are for when people ask you (or when you ask yourself) why you keep doing what you are doing. These pictures can be rather gruesome, though they do not have to be, but they do help to get the point across. Remember the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words?" These pictures will save you a lot of talking even though looking at them will probably make you cry. Just remember, these things happen, whether or not they are captured on film. And looking at these types of pictures may just convince someone when words have failed.