While I worked for many, many years in veterinary practices, I always managed to maintain just a respectable number of pets…no more than two cats at any one time, in fact. Perhaps it was because I worked mostly in referral medicine, and we didn’t have near the number of orphans and boxes of kittens come around as general practices…perhaps.
But then I entered into management, and came “off the floor” where I had daily interaction with our patients, the pets who belonged to others. Funny enough, I started obtaining more and more pets. Some of it was letting my daughter experience the natural world, with an ant farm, hatching lady bugs and butterflies, and growing a frog from a tadpole. Some of it was my intense curiousity of raising other species such as hermit crabs and betta fish. Whatever the reason, the pets began accumulating.
Then we moved across country, and the frog, betta fish, and hermit crab found other homes at our old city of residence…Only the three cats and one bunny made the trip. Not long after we made our move, our pet population began expanding again…first a dog, then a hamster, then two bunnies replaced our one bunny when he succumbed to illness, and two weeks ago I added a guinea pig to our zoo of now EIGHT pets! I could blame the movie G-Force for that last acquired pet, but really I’ve come to realize it has nothing to do with anything but my torn and tussled insides…my response to compassion fatigue that has not healed.
As I look back, I now know that as I grew into a manager, I missed being around animals so much that I began surrounding myself with them at home since they were absent from my management office. Then as I transformed into a consultant working from home, the numbers started to climb. I don’t regret any one of them, I love them all immensely…but at least now I recognize that I need these pets around me just as sure as our clients need their pets…and I surprise myself at the lengths I would go to keep myself surrounded by these beautiful animals.
Compassion Fatigue followed me off the floor and into management.