I am not happy with the person I've become at work.
Don't get me wrong, the depth of my affection and love for the shelter pets has not waned and it never will.
The extent of my concern for the animals has molded me into no more than a slave to the mercy they are or are not granted.
However the degree to which my impatience, anger, frustration and, at times, complete disgust has swelled is now at a boiling point. The impatience, anger, frustration and disgust are in regards primarily to working with the public, 'my' public.
-Every place's public is different.
An example: two dogs, Gigi and Daisy were surrendered together sometime last week. These girls are spayed, docile, slightly shy, highly empathetic and in tune with their environment. They're trained dogs, the type that would never have an accident in the house. They walk well on a lead. Gigi and Daisy had 'keep together' written on each of their kennel cards. On Monday a seemingly nice young man had both dogs out and decided to adopt Daisy. He said he couldn't take both.
Wed at work I realized he had already returned Daisy, just two days after he had taken her. I was in shock... don't know why since this scenario has played out time after time over the years.
I called the young man.
"This is Jessica with Animal Services. I'm calling to try to find out why you returned Daisy after only 2 days," I said, presumptuously.
"Well we had some financial difficulties come up," the man said.
"Financial difficulties? You didn't know you were having financial difficulties just 2 days ago when you adopted? If it's about the eye infection, that could likely be cured with a basic antibiotic cream, it shouldn't be that expensive to address," I replied (in the dog's notes it clearly stated that the owner had returned the dog because of an eye problem).
"No, that's not why I returned the dog, it's because of the financial problems. You know, you think this is fun for me? You think this is something I wanted to do? Why are you even calling me?" He asked in an angry tone.
"Well, last time I checked, people are still free to do what they want to do. I don't think anyone forced you to turn your dog back in. And you know why I'm calling? -Because I care. That's why I'm calling. I'm calling because I though I might get lucky enough for you to say, 'gee, I didn't really know what to do about the eye so I brought her back. I'm glad to know it's easy to treat' but, I see that's not the case, you've made up you're mind so please just do me one favor- the next time you think about adopting a pet think about it two,three, four, five or six more times before you make a decision!" I exclaimed and, click; I hung up abruptly.
My office mate had just walked back in and giggled saying, "Are you o.k?"
"No probably not," I said, flashing a meager smile. "Do you think I should get a prescription of Valium?' I asked jokingly.
I was so angry at this guy. -So angry.
A different, more empathetic approach would have been better, more professional. I know that.
However my patience has sizzled, evaporated into nothingness, at this point in my career.
What people don't realize is that this type of situation plays out dozens of times daily for me. We receive 80-120 pets DAILY so it's so- overwhelming. There's no better word for it.
Siempre se siente como si fuera nadando en contra de la corriente en una manera and like a race against time.
My grandmother (one of them) and I spoke a couple of days ago.
"Jessie, in every job where you have to deal with the public it's hard," she said, trying to offer outside perspective.
I agreed with her and know she's right but, I explained, I'm working with living, breathing, innocent beings.
It's not the same as someone bringing back a sweater that doesn't fit for example but, sadly, many people treat their pets with the same regard as they would treat such a sweater. -It's horrendous, and heartbreaking.
Working with adopters that tell me, in the process of doing my standard adoption counseling, that their last pet was lost, the one before that 'got too big' and they had to turn it in, the one before that also got lost and on and on is equally disturbing. I'm standing there with these people, knowing they're going to bring the 2 month old puppy back, probably before it's even a year old, and that there's nothing I can do about it.
Giving them handouts on crate training, access to FREE pet training, counseling on the fact that the pup will chew, bite, bark and grow quickly, reminding them time and time again that it's a huge responsibility are tools I use with every single adopter- the sad thing is that, I can and do talk until I'm blue in the face, or have nodules on my vocal cords (which I do have), all to no avail.
I can't even count the number of times I've counseled adopters, investing my time and energy in them one after the other, only to see the pet come back within a week. It's horrendous, and heartbreaking.
I've requested that we implement an adoption survey to prevent the shelter from  acting as a revolving door for our pets, to educate our adopters and make them take pet adoption more seriously. This too has been to no avail. -I never even got a response to that request.
Animal Welfare is the only profession where, that which you most love and are working to save, is killed... on a daily basis.
Think about it... Animal Welfare is comparable to working with: orphaned children, abused and victimized women, environmental welfare, terminally-ill patients perhaps. All of these professions have to be just as challenging as Animal Welfare, this I do not doubt. But... the workers in these professions are not facing the reality that their patients, clients, subjects are subject to euthanasia should they get 'too sick,' 'take up too much space,' or 'extend their stay too long.' And this my friend, puts a whole new spin on things- believe me. It's horrendous, and heartbreaking.
I've tried to console myself, comparing my burnout to the burnout other professionals experience.
Say, a math teacher that loves math, math is his passion in life but, he's disgusted with the school system that wants him to teach kids how to pass tests, and not really learn math, or he's had it with the students that simply don't care about math in the first place.
Or the banker on Wall Street that lives, breathes and sweats stocks but eventually gets played by the game that he has played so well, for so long.
Or the ER nurse that loves medicine, feels she was born to help others in this capacity, but eventually, after giving and doing for so many, she succumbs to deep depression, feeling that through so much giving and doing for others she has lost herself.
Thinking of my burnout in this relative fashion does help a bit, but, ultimately I still feel shame, a sense of failure, knowing that I've finally just about burnt out myself. In a way I can't help feeling like a failure.
 It's sad. It's so sad to me.
Every time I think about it I want to cry.
I never thought this would happen to me, I always thought my passion for saving lives was stronger, stronger than: the pain, the system, the lies, the drama, the sorrow, the death, the blaming, the senselessness, but, coming to find it's not strong enough is just sad. The human spirit is breakable.
That's why, cliche, it's crucial to invite God, the supreme being of light and love, into our lives.
We cannot make it alone.

Related writings from my notebook:

Why, why, why?
I thought I was too good for this-
I thought it couldn't happen to me.
I'm too happy, too silly, too spiritual, too educated, too smart, too sincere, too caring- for this to happen.
Succumbed to being completely frazzled, engulfed by, eaten alive and spit back out by- my job.
-That which you were made to do has made you into a pawn in a board game.
-Give me your soul, I'll give you the brief sensation that you have some kind of control...
It feels as if that's the contract I have signed, with the devil himself. 
I am sad. I am surprised. 
I never thought this could happen to me.
I was too good, too sincere, too smart to become- burnt out. 

A happier one:

Every day is a new day, with each passing day we have a chance to at least try to start over.
Old habits die hard.
We live by the pattern we've been living by because it worked, it served it's purpose for a while.
Our usual way of dealing with life allowed us to get through the day, 
to numb ourselves some so it wouldn't be too hard,
kept a wall built so we'd feel safe,
made us seem happy, always smiling and complacent
For a while, maybe years, maybe months, maybe just weeks or days this old way worked for us.
Now, it's not working.
It may be as sudden as a fuse blowing or as slow and steady as a candle burning down but we know- something's gotta give.
One choice that we often overlook is- trying a new way; deciding to try a different way of  dealing with things, people, life. 
This is where I am now- trying to figure out my new way of coping and finding out if I can do it.
I could be Ms. Smiley/Happy and act like everything's great... why not? What the hell?
Or I could become dry, monotone, completely disconnected... my sanity would be better preserved.
Or I could try to take a drug, an anti-anxiety pill every single lovely day... I know that would work, as least until I become an addict.