On compassion and being a better human being

So fellow travelers,  this morning’s post from author and CGBF mentor Jon Katz offers  honest, raw insights on the subject of compassion.

His book Saving Simon was a moving experience.  I have seen a lot of suffering and heard worse in my years of volunteering with dog rescues;  the description of Simon’s condition was by far more terrible than anything I had heard of. I found it so soul wrenching I had to stop reading for several hours, inspite of knowing the happy ending. Perhaps it was harder because I had met the healthy, happy Simon and felt for myself the deep wisdom in his soul.


Simon, waiting patiently for me to give him an apple

In telling Simon’s story, Jon also writes about the larger question of what it means to live from compassion. It is a growing theme in his work and I believe also an essential question we all face in this era of fractured, divided conflicts.  His blog post this morning goes right to the core of critical issues facing animal rights and rescue work. He examines the effect of anger and  judgement on our ability to express compassion and asks whether they blind us to our own inhumanity.

            “When the door opened, I looked into the eyes of the farmer who treated my donkey so horribly,

               and all I saw was my own reflection.”

It is a question I am faced with often in my volunteer work.  It is not uncommon to hear an angry outburst from someone when a dog’s backstory is told. I can’t condemn those passing judgement; in my first year as a volunteer I found myself all too quickly pulled into that mindset myself. In less than two years I was burnout from the negative emotions. It took a year long hiatus and some serious soul searching to regain my balance; maintaining it is an ongoing challenge.  Still, the wagging tails, grateful kisses and playful romps are well worth the effort. The dogs are always happy to see me, grateful for whatever time I can give and I come home feeling like I have made a difference.  If there is one thing I know about myself, it is that I need to feel I can and do make a difference.  I have also learned anger and judgement are a waste of my precious energy, energy I would rather spend raising awareness of the need for spay/neuter programs, proper regulation of  breeders, responsible dog ownership or energy given to just plain loving on the dogs who so readily and unconditionally love right back.  They remind me to be a better human being.


My amazing daughter with Bruno on a summer outing.  Bruno came into the rescue a very skinny stray from the city shelter. Of course he became one of my favorites. As with most pit mixes it took a while for him to find the right family; he lives a happy life with them much loved.  He has his very own pawsome Facebook page.

If you would like to read Jon’s post, you can find it here.

Saving Simon can be ordered from Battenkill Books, a phenomenal independant bookstore our Bedlam Farm group is committed to supporting.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Deborah H Rahalski

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