This name. . .
It raises all sorts of questions.
Mainly: “Are you in Arizona?”
No, in fact, we are not in Arizona. I’ve never even
been to Arizona.
Years ago, though not as many as rescue efforts makes it seem,
there was this paint mare. She was not the first I rescued. . .
but she was where the line was drawn in the sand.
You know that story.
The story you may not know is how I ended up there and what the name really means.
I did not want to start a horse rescue. As awesome as it may sound
if you’re looking on, this work is tough. And you have to be tough as nails to succeed in it.
It is sad and hard. The pay is paltry ( We all do it for Free here).
It eats up all of the spare time you could have.
People tire of hearing you ramble about hides draped over bones, as a matter of fact.
You get asked why you do not spend your time saving people instead
(I’m not even sure what that means how I would go about doing that, anyway).
Other rescues hate you, work against you and malign you. Previous owners threaten you, despise you and likely would murder you if given a get out of jail free card. Declined adopters revile you in emails and via phone.
The popular horse community looks at you as if you carry a BLACK X on your forehead because some feel you demean the prestige of equine endeavors used to carry.
People work against you while trying to work with you. Rescue is 50% about animals and 50% about the people it takes to get the animal safe. The last 50% is the hardest. There is no college degree to prepare you for this. No sociology or psychology class to give you enough insight.
You learn as you go, and if you fail, you are aware animals pay the price with their lives. You depend on people to do what is right solely because it is in their heart to do so. There is no money to be had; only money to be given away for a cause. You depend on qualified people to want to work for no pay when too often only those unable to accomplish the tasks are willing. And when you find someone willing and qualified, you will do anything but sell your first born to keep them because you KNOW the cost is too high to lose them. And you. . .you remember you cannot ever matter at all. If you begin to think matter, you fail, really.
I’m so getting off track here. But that does a fair job of telling about what Animal rescue really is.
Back to the story of the Phoenix and our name.
Normal, every day people do not end up champions of Animal rescue.
Broken people do.
Those who have gone through enough to end up in a pile somewhere, a pile of ash, a pile of clothes. They are usually Broken people wandering in a life that seems without purpose.
People who have been to the brink and
somehow haven’t gone over the edge, we are those who have lost too much and want desperately to have meaning in the blankness left behind. There are exceptions to everything, but those are few here.
And then they stumble into rescue and find this spark.
They probably didn’t know they could even see or feel that anymore.
So it is with me.
Life Longer animal lover and sometimes dabbler in helping
A person who could check “Loves Horses,” “Loves Dogs,” “Likes Cats” on a description quiz about myself. I could also have checked “Loves Fried Rice,” too. It wasn’t who I was. It was just a thing about me.
Then circumstances wrecked my entire life. Losses added up around me too high to see over. And I was lost in it. I couldn’t find a way out of the sadness. So I just stopped being anything. I did all of the things regular people do to get by. Ate when hungry or when bored or sad, drove, finished a degree, had more children, cooked and read books.
And still I was this pile of Ash. Nothing important felt there anymore. I could not remember loving things.
I sometimes felt angry and sad, but mostly, I felt nothing.
And then it began to change.
And it saved me.
There was this paint mare tied to a tree in Lincoln county, WV. And people kept saying how I loved horses and should help her over and over and over. But I did nothing at first. I was like everyone else who hears a sad story they feel powerless to change.
She wasn’t the first, but the few others had been reactions, like seeing a kitten in the middle of the road you either have to swerve to go around or get out and pick her up.
This horse was different. It was a journey. It was a thought out choice that I knew there was no going back from. It was a rescue. It was the beginning of so many things.
Hopeless and a lot like me, she was. I imagine, could she have talked to me, she’d have said she felt angry and sad for awhile and then nothing.
So in a rainstorm, with vague permission, through a flooded creek. . .I got her and loaded her on a trailer. I wasn’t particular horse savvy at the time. I just loved them, and I talked her crippled soul into the trailer in the pouring rain.
I never looked back.
We were too late for her, and only after she was buried 2 months later, could offer her a name.
So the name Phoenix was as much about what Rescue is as it was about finally finding a name for that paint mare. . .the one that somehow, in a tragic way, helped me find a spark, a something out of the nothing.
Fill a void that was ever growing until that rescue.
That spark that turns you into a rescuer. . .it grows.
It heals. It changes you, but it isn’t overnight. It was this evolution of knowing if I kept
at it long enough, in time, I wouldn’t only want to feel things, I WOULD feel something of value again.
And the name “Heart of Phoenix” seemed a simple act of naming the rescue after the courageous little mare from Lincoln county, WV, but it is so much more than that now.
It tells you about those behind rescue. Not just this rescue. All rescue. Not just me. . .it is most everyone working to save the lives of those without any power to change their existence with us.
Rescue is empowering in a way that little else can be. It allows fragmented people to go in, pick up beings that are nearly destroyed and entirely revolution their future.
In that, there is so much healing for the rescuer, I cannot relay it sufficiently.
And so it is that “Phoenix” is so very fitting to all of us in rescue, both the creatures we rescue and to us, the rescuers. . .
So they and we rise again and shine brilliantly.