We stepped back today to appreciate our volunteers and visitors for the year; even though for most of 2020 we had our gates closed, there were brief moments of respite and we managed to introduce new volunteers to the team.
We ofcourse want to thank these volunteers who give up their time; but as volunteers ourselves we want to thank the animals who have helped us this year, because for many of us it has been our animals which have kept us getting up in the morning.
Volunteering at Crosskennan is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. It showed me the true value of horses, that extends far beyond just riding! Spending time just sitting with them and listening to them, and knowing that you're giving love to animals who may not have had it before they came to Crosskennan is such an amazing feeling! They heal us as much as we help to heal them.
Volunteering in any capacity can be rewarding, but when you are working with animals, horses in my case, some of whom have been neglected or abused before they were lucky enough to be rescued by Crosskennan.. to witness & be part of helping to rehabilitate and show these beautiful creatures that not all humans are bad, that they can be loved... when that horse starts to trust you and give you love in return, that's the most fulfilling thing ever, you couldn't put a price on it!
We don't know what this year, 2021, will bring our way but we know that each day we will work for their tomorrow and each tomorrow that comes will be in part due to them; each animal in our lives that we care for is an encouragement to go on.
Times have unquestionably been difficult, they've been strange and new and overwhelming. Some days our volunteers have questioned their daily lives; struggling to cope in some of the most basic of situations as their world closed in tighter around them.
We've been the lucky ones with animals in our lives who have shown us support, even without meaning too. If you've ever had a dog get you up when your down; just because they need to go out for a pee, you will know how persurvering they can be and you will know just what is like to want to provide them the best life.
At the present time we have 184 animals under the sanctuaries care; and although not every one of them are currently residing at the sanctuary we are providing support and the finacial aid necessary to care for them.
In all my years as a volunteer I honestly haven't quite seen a year like 2020. I took on a different role this year in addition to my normal volunteering and to be honest I nearly burnt myself out I was so desperate to ensure all the animals who needed help, recieved help. I haven't felt this way since the sanctuary was in the middle of the equine crisis and you literally couldn't take two steps without banging into a horse. Things are definately better in many ways since then, but a lot of what I help with is making sure there is food in the dinner dishes and that there is money to pay the bills. Sitting in front of a computer all day, working on rescue calls and applications for funding and recieving way too many of the first on days that the latter turned up unsuccessful.
I broke down and didn't know what to do. I honestly felt like the whole sanctuary's future was on my shoulders and was scared to reach out for help because everyone else was struggling too. Then on a day I awaited yet another refusual of funding support I got some very wise words instead; "you don't do it for yourself, you don't ask for yourself; you ask for them, because they can't. You are their voice.". That evening I traveled up to the sanctuary to assist with some maintanaince jobs and to take the dogs out for a run. I spent some time just sitting up in the top paddocks watching the dogs run around and the horses nap in their paddocks. It was well near midnight before I returned home but my soul was settled, and my heart was free and that next morning I sat down and I started to talk to everyone; not as me but as the animals; I asked people for things they needed or wanted and people responded so generously. Suddenly instead of panicking how I was going to pay for the next bag of supplements or cat food; I was able to ask.
If you've met me, you know I'm a chatter box, especially about animals. I can talk all day to be truthful. But what you may not know is that I am autistic, I have ADD and OCD and severe anxiety. When I first started attending the sanctuary I couldn't speak to anyone and even the simpilest of things could lead to a meltdown; it is one of the areas we joke about now years later. At the start of 2020 I would have done anything for anyone just to make them happy, I would have panicked on my own in the background; eating away at myself bit by bit. 2020 in many ways was a blessing for me in that it has taught me to ask for things, and to go for the things I want (or what the animals want).
The animals at the sanctuary deserve our thanks every day for just being themselves and reminding us every day to work a little harder or reach a little higher; they don't ask us for miracles but through them we get to be a part of miracles every day and personally we don't think there are words to express the graitude that is felt among us able to be a part of that.
So on the eighth day of Christmas we share our thanks to all the animals who share our lives, who teach us so much; who accept us and yet push us to be better. We thank them for trusting us to be a part of their lives, and for letting us in when instincts are shouting the opposite.
Every day they provide a reason for getting up in the morning; every day they give us unconditional support, love, teaching and forgiveness.
Animals ability to forgive knows no bounds; and we are truly lucky to be a part of their world.
Hope for the future, Help us Trust again.