Holidays are expendable when you work in animal rescue. The calls and texts and emails requesting help for needy animals don't slow down because there's a turkey in the oven or Santa is coming down the chimney.
Today was no exception.
The buzzing of my phone alerting me to a text or an email or a voicemail went on steadily all day. It was all in a days' work - all needed to be dealt with but nothing was an emergency. That is until 2:45pm when I received a call about Jelly, one of our puppies who had become ill and needed to be transferred to get emergency medical care as soon as possible.
I sprang into action - first thing was to pull the roast out of the oven and shove it in the refrigerator to be cooked later. I quickly got dressed in my outdoor gear, grabbed the necessary supplies and started up the van. Current weather was 22 degrees, snowing and windy. The newscaster reported that the roads were bad and if we didn't need to go out, we should stay home.
My driveway is on a major highway and in order to get over the cliff of ice that has built up at the end of the driveway, I need to get a running start. I prepared myself for the ride, checked that the road was clear and gunned it, and just as quickly, hit the brakes as a car without its lights on came up over the hill. When the coast was clear and I attempted to move, I quickly realized that I was hung up on the ice and was going nowhere.
I felt the panic start to set in as the wheels of the van spun and spun - Jelly needed to be picked up by 4:00pm and here I was, stuck in my driveway. I took a deep breath and trudged to the garage to get out the shovel and the cat litter. Twenty minutes and many cuss words later, I was more stuck than ever. My heart was in my throat with worry about Jelly. I took another deep breath and started making calls.
And then it was over. Fifteen minutes after I started making calls, everything was OK. A volunteer was happy to make the trip to pick up Jelly and get her to the foster where she would get the medical help she needed. My neighbor came over with his 4-wheel drive truck and pushed me out of the ice.
I came back inside and was overwhelmed with gratitude for the people in my life. The tears started flowing as I thought about all the wonderful, generous, selfless people I have met since I began this crazy animal rescue life more than 10 years ago.
From today - Terri, who dropped everything on New Year's Eve to make the drive in crappy weather to get Jelly to safety. Jean, the rescuer who did not hesitate for one second when I asked her if she could take a sick puppy on New Year's Eve. Philip, who listened to my panicked voice and offered his always calm and soothing suggestions. And Ed, my neighbor, who left his warm house on a very cold afternoon without a second's thought to help me get the van unstuck.
And beyond today, I am so very grateful for the wonderful people and partnerships that make Leech Lake Legacy the wonderful, caring organization it has become. In no particular order,
- Our Board - Arlys, Craig, Dani, Philip and Terri - who work tirelessly on behalf of the needy animals on Leech Lake Reservation. I am proud to call you my friends.
- Our Volunteers - There are many and they are fantastic, loyal, passionate, generous, kind and give of themselves every day to make better lives for Reservation animals. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am grateful to you every single day.
- A special Shout Out to Tom and Nancy O'Sullivan. They live near Leech Lake Reservation and are always available on a moment's notice to pick up an injured or sick animal, to deliver food to hungry animals, to drop off a house to keep a dog from freezing, or one of the thousand other requests we make of them. They are incredible humans and love all animals with an amazing passion.
- Karen Good who has been an incredible mentor and friend since my life in animal rescue began more than 10 years ago. Karen is a passionate, tireless voice for needy animals on Red Lake Reservation.
- My Friends and Family - thank you for always being there to support me during the hard times and tough decisions, and to laugh and cheer with me on our successes. You keep me going on those difficult animal rescue days when I want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.
- Our Donors and Supporters who make sure we have the resources and tools to help as many animals as possible. Thank you for your generosity and your trust.
- Our Supporters and Friends on Leech Lake Reservation who welcomed us almost eight years ago and who continue to provide us with necessary resources to help needy dogs and cats on Leech Lake Reservation.
- A special Shout Out to Rory Haaland - he has been our contact and friend since we started working with the Tribal Police almost eight years ago. He is the tireless caretaker and voice for our four-legged friends on Leech Lake Reservation.
- Our Rescue Partners - Leech Lake Legacy does not adopt out animals. We do not have a facility to house animals. But our Rescue Partners do. Thank you to our Rescue Partners for rising to the occasion when we have animals that need a place to call home. We could not help as many animals as we do without all of you.
And I want to save my last thank you for the Animal Humane Society. They have been a generous, stable, loyal, wonderful partner since Leech Lake Legacy came into being almost eight years ago. We could not ask for a better partner.
In 2018 alone, AHS took in more than 1,200 dogs and cats from Leech Lake and Red Lake Reservations. We work closely with AHS to make sure that all of the animals we send them are able to be placed up for adoption. In the cases where our animals are not placeable, AHS works with us to help us find a suitable partner to take the dog or cat.
AHS worked with us on all of these animals to make sure they were loved and cared for and brought back to health. Thank you, Animal Humane Society for helping us provide healthier, happier lives for needy Rez animals and for helping them to find their forever homes. You are an amazing partner and we are grateful to you each and every day.
Together this year, our village provided resources to thousands of animals, which allowed them to live happier and healthier lives. Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen.