I sometimes call my home a small, highly unprofitable rest home for unwanted pets. I take in the ones that have languished - in some cases for years, who are old and sick, young but dying. Many of them at first are not happy pets to be around. They are defensive and hostile, grumpy-miserable-"leave me alone!". I understand.

I've been called crazy and "really stupid" for taking these animals home. People I would date would say, "If we get serious you'll stop doing all this right?" Wrong! It certainly hasn't been a sound financial decision, leaving me with no savings and no retirement. And I do get very physically tired sometimes, between the care they require and the harassment I get from bullies who when I push back (figuratively not literally), narcissistically play the victim.

So why do I keep doing it? Because I can't imagine life otherwise. I get to see these cats and dogs blossom in a home with care and love - even the ones that only have a few weeks left. I understand them, and they understand me. I was also unwanted. Mum was really my Great Aunt who took me in and raised me. I call her Mum because parent is a verb, not just a noun. These cats and dogs quickly come to realize that here they are totally and completely safe - some for the first time. They are wanted, they are completely and unconditionally loved. If I had the room I would include farm animals and horses! That's a dream for another day, for when I win the lotto or discover I was secretly born to immense wealth and am about to inherit it all (OK now I'm just hallucinating).

Even the hospice cases. Who leaves a dog in final stages of cancer or kidney failure or cascading organ failure due to old age at a shelter? But they do! It happens every day around the world. The hospice cases are the hardest but in a way the most rewarding. I can ensure their last memories are of love and comfort. It's worth the pain (for me when they pass). 
And cases like my Silver cat, an injured street cat I found under a car. It took him 6 months to decided to venture out of the kitty condo and explore the house. It took 2 years before I could pick him up. It took another 3 years before he became a complete lap cat, demanding treats and generally being an attention hog if I try to pet any of the other cats.

I could use a vacation and some help, but maybe someday I'll get both. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy living in the light of all these special creatures!

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