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I’m Almost Ready To Quit

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’ve all heard it before. Poor, poor me.

Well, eventually, one gets serious. I truly don’t know how much longer Sheltie Rescue of Utah will continue under the current funding and fostering model.

Barbara and I got home late last night (about midnight) from having spent 12 days at the American Shetland Sheepdog Association’s 2011 National specialty dog show and trials. Yes, we had a lot of fun, we got to visit with old friends and make new ones, and I drank a lot of margaritas. But SRU sold about $2200 worth of product, which cost us about $1100 in raw materials and labor. We spent about $650 on our petsitter (who at least did a pretty good job), over $500 shipping material to the National and a smaller but not-yet-known amount to send leftover material back, about $900 on a hotel room, about $250 for a rental car, and at least $250 for food. We spent over $2500 to earn $1100 (and, of course, to do our jobs for ASSA). That’s not a sure-fire way to financial security, now is it?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love going to the National and consider running the Rescue Booth there to be part of my chosen avocation of Sheltie rescue. It’s very hard work (before, during, and after the National), but it’s also enjoyable in many ways. Sadly, we stay so busy that we see almost nothing of what goes on in the rings, even though this year we had absolutely idea locations at every event to see the judging. But the truth is that we paid about $1400 out of our own pockets to help other rescue groups earn a relatively small amount of money (and for the National Sheltie Rescue Network to earn about $5500 less about $1500 for raw materials and labor).

What really got me going, though, was — having spent 1½ weeks living in a hotel room with Abby (yes, she went with us) and Barbara, with it being nice and quiet much of the time — that we got home to a house filled with about 15 barking, peeing, pooping, jumping, crowding, etc. dogs. I love each and every one of them, but I just don’t want to go on living this way. We can’t keep up with cleaning up after dogs who aren’t fully house-broken, or who don’t want to get their dainty little paws wet by going outside to potty, and our petsitter — while doing a decent job — really isn’t experienced enough to do so. So our carpets and the flooring beneath them are ruined (and one of them is literally wearing so thin that I think I see flooring through it!), but we owe the vet thousands of dollars (and owe American Express many more thousands, at least half of which is rescue expenses). The house stinks, no matter what we do, and we’re too embarrassed to have anybody ever visit us.

In short, my rescue fatigue is so overwhelming right now, that I very nearly walked out of the house at midnight last night to go to a motel. But, of course, I can’t afford a motel.

If we don’t get more help — particularly with fostering — I’m pulling the plug.

I simply cannot do this any more. A number of you have generously made donations and helped us raise funds in many different ways, for which we are truly grateful. But even all of your efforts don’t cover more than 1/3 to 1/2 of the expenses, even without special situations like Jasper’s from late last year. And, if it were only the money we were talking about, we could probably manage. But the task of caring for anywhere from a dozen to two dozen rescues (plus our three personal Shelties) is so time-consuming that Barbara probably doesn’t get to spend more than 3 or 4 hours a day on everything else put together — little things like getting SRU’s financial records in order, scheduling and holding the annual meetings we’re legally required to hold, writing newsletters and fundraising grants, finding volunteers to do many of the jobs that are simply not getting done, and, yes, finding new foster homes. She’s running just as fast as she can simply to keep from falling off the back of the treadmill. And, frankly, I’m not much help because I recently got yet another major responsibility in my day job and yet another minor responsibility at ASSA.

I don’t blame anybody for the state of affairs (except myself, of course). Members of the Sheltie clubs in Utah have their own dogs, their own responsibilities, their own lives, and they make rational decisions about how they can expend their resources. Unfortunately, that usually precludes fostering Shelties for SRU. Some (Julene, you get a special shout-out!) manage to foster dogs for a relatively short while when we’re completely desperate, even though they live in tiny houses or have annoying neighbors or have health problems. But we just don’t have a “stable” of foster homes in the manner that some other Sheltie rescue groups do.

But, if we don’t get some serious, significant, committed, enduring fostering help, very soon, it’s going to be over for us. We’ve done this for a long time and I’m just tired. And broke. And living in a pig sty. And, did I mention, tired?

On this day..

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7 comments to I’m Almost Ready To Quit

  • Tami Hottes

    I was interested in becoming a sponser for Tommy.  Cant quite figure out how to do so though.  Any suggestions?

  • Tami Hottes

    I hate that you are having a Sheltie breakdown Jim!  You guys are trying so hard to save all these beautiful abandoned Shelties!  ( Shame on those who abanded their dogs! )    I would gladly take Mr Tommy off your hands or at least sponsor him!  I so wish that I lived closer so that you and Barbara could get to know me and know how much I care about animals!  All animals!  But I too know my limitations as to how many I can afford plus, having to many limits the amount of attention they deserve.   Take a deep breath and try to regroup!  Hopefully, anyone else that reads your post, and lives near you will volunteer to foster some of these guys.  It would be a shame to lose all you have put into saving these wonderful dogs!
                                                                                                                       Your Friend in Illinois
                                                                                                                           Tami Hottes    

  • I’m so sorry to hear this. :( I hope you get some people to foster so your load is lighter. Sending good thoughts to you . . .

  • Kim

    I am sorry things are going the way they are right now.  I wish I could help you out more, but being so far away makes that difficult to do.  I hope you are able to expand your support base, and get a few more great foster homes for those wonderful shelties.  
    If we lived closer I would enjoy being a foster home, our three shelties get along well, very little bickering and no fighting.  
    We would not have such content, gentle, loving dogs if it weren’t for the love and care two of them received from you when they needed it the most.  Thank you Jim and Barb.  
    Being the heart and soul of a rescue group isn’t easy and if you need to stop, that’s understandable – many of us would not have lasted as long as you already have.  The good you have done will remain, I see proof of that every day.

  • I’ve often wondered how in the world you live with that many dogs in the house.  And yes you love them all…but really, you have to have a life that is yours as well.  I agree, you need more foster homes.  How to get them is the problem.  Have you talked about your problem with the media?  Done interviews to explain how much you need foster homes?  And funding?   Of course you run the risk then of getting the animals taken away if officials feel they’re not in a good environment….don’t take that wrong…I just mean having that many dogs in the house has to be an issue…This is a hard thing to figure out.  Do you have a license for being a kennel?  

  • Kathlynn

    I adore the two shelties I’m living with, which I adopted from your shelter, and would gladly foster 2 more, but the city I live in has a rule of only 2 dogs and strict code enforcement. So disappointing!  I have decided to sponsor two of your seniors for an indefinite monthly donation which will increase once I finish school and re-enter the job market. 
    Reading this makes me feel so disappointed that all those darling dogs aren’t finding homes or even foster situations. Our uncertain economy has made many people, myself included, cautious about taking on anything which will have a further expense. Having said that I also echo what others have said, “What you are doing is wonderful for these dogs, but you also need some time for a life outside of the rescue effort. I wish you the best in finding a workable balance between the two.”
    I liked Dawn’s idea about using the media to communicate the need for foster homes.  

  • Harleysmom

    Dear Jim (and Barbara)

    I have for some time been very concerned about your impending burn out.  No one should live under these conditions.  You both jumped in and did a job that virtually no one else could do and did more than even you could have imagined you could have done.  It’s the hardest thing in the world to say “no” when you do rescue, but, sometimes you have to prioritize and that means saying “no” at times.  We cannot do the job we really need to do which is pull shelties from shelters who may be facing death, if there is no room at the inn.  And we, like other rescues must face the reality that resources are limited.  Your personal generosity has worn quite thin.  Please consider putting a limit on the number of dogs you can personally foster (suggest two) and if there is no room, then you do not take any owner turnovers.  Period.  No mixed breeds/collies.  None.  Your house has indeed suffered and no one expects you to live in these conditions, nor want you to.  I had to reach this point and as my dogs have gone to rainbow bridge, I’ve let my numbers dwindle to a more manegable number.  The stress you are under is not fair to you, and we don’t expect this to be your sacrifice. 

    The other tough priority is (very hard here) prioritizing where funds are spent.  Spay’s  and neuters are first of course with vaccinations, lets prioritize and if there is no money to work with, then expensive tests and treatments may have to wait or be eliminated which may mean tough decisions with certain dogs that may be in critical situations.  If it costs 2000.00 to buy two months of life for a dog, then perhaps we should help them gently to rainbow bridge instead.  I would have to make that decision with my own dogs.  I am not asking what I wouldn’t do for my own. 

    Love you guys.  I’m sorry you are so discouraged.  I promise I do care. 

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