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As an advocate for a cause, one navigates many challenging obstacles; either in order to achieve the initiative or in trying to overcome the road-less horizon that is your path. You are a volunteer. I am a volunteer.

My cause is an animal rescue, advocacy and campaigning for the voiceless which is often no benign affair. In this journey, I have encountered those who exemplify the same strength, by going the extra mile, working in the trenches.

My latest project was the three-month search for Prince, a Wheaten Terrier, not built to survive the wild of the Rocky Mountains on his own. After seeing a post of his plight, I reached out and got involved because I believe it is when a community comes together to be kind and caring, results happen. My motto: “Do not withhold good when it is in your power to act.”

Faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, in the worst of winter and a situation that required much in terms of having the slightest chance at success, I tried to recruit allies. You know… the “carry each other’s burden” type of mentality. Two are better than one….“Love thy neighbor” spirit.

Ultimately, it was a dire attempt. The dog that was lost belonged to a woman whose situation was even more dire. Touched by her heartening circumstances, I committed. Not knowing the lengthy and lonely journey I was about to embark upon, I pondered and organized. Time was of the essence.

The case drew little attention beyond the original post online. The chances of any lost dog’s recovery increase with the vigorous pursuit of a public awareness strategy. After all, one person only has two eyes. Posters and fliers were made, posts put out on social media platforms with pleas for help. The deafening silence was as crushing as the work itself – in a vacuum so isolated, you wonder if people can read. It signified indifference.

I learned that in my work not everyone can get involved; people have lives and are busy, or don’t possess the same deep passion I do. I have also learned that many deliberately ignore such efforts. Practicing hospitality to strangers is a foreign attitude. Far worse, the person in need was held in low esteem by several encountered in this dreadful search. We persevered and learned firsthand in this experience the lack of concerned citizens, emboldened further by judgment.

During the course of the search, I constantly reached out and asked for help. Despite the frustrating non-participation of many in the community (well aware of local incidents due to resident-based online groups), a few kind souls responded. They put forth their virtue by taking action; kind gestures, small donations, a willingness to ask… how can I help?

It is this selfless service, to show esteem to another, to carry out and live the values of respect, no matter how small the contribution that makes any such mission more apt to overcome. We carried on. Weeks went by. I posted and pleaded. Chances of finding him became slimmer, and hope dimmer.

I found myself wondering … where is everyone; my friends who love dogs? People who claim to have faith but have no deed? Such faith, if not accompanied by action, is wasted. Trying to focus on the positive, while holding down my own farm and sustaining a mission few showed interest in, I learned once again the alienating social fabric that pervades the culture here. Many times I heard “it’s cliquey” …. “people don’t like newcomers” …. ”you just have to find your own clique of newcomers” ….etc.

My experience here was people who barely batted an eye in observing to moral codes, until all of a sudden they did pay attention when we succeeded in recovering Prince.

I thought – they can read after all! The excitement of a successful outcome always entices storytelling. Reputations are on the line. The story told was great. Yet, it lacked some pertinent details that needed mentioning.

In my work, fraudulent attempts at soliciting funds by rescues who claim the donations serve their tasks have been known to occur and ruined the good name of others. When a fundraiser was kindly started by a local woman to offset costs in this mission to recover Prince, quick-tempered voices in pugnacious fashion questioned the set goal of this fundraiser the same day it was established. Their quarreling and sudden involvement echoed over the potential manna Kari and I were to receive. Since I run a rescue on my own, I took it upon myself to clarify my contributions and detailed involvement that sadly went way beyond a conventional dog search. I thanked the reporter for his contributions but explained the reason for my comments. He understood. Yet … not only did ungracious collaborators fail to grasp the scope of the mission, their obstinate, inciting insults brought up the very Christian values of which they seemed devoid. Where were their deeds when we needed them so badly?
I know I made a difference. I don’t need to pursue these successes as self-assurance, nor do I seek recognition. Some sudden internet meddlers, pridefully typing, banking on the comforts of hiding behind a computer screen, even suggested to “throw me a parade” in their universally critical and insinuative reports. If anyone deserves a parade, it would be Prince. But the real question is, would they even come? This would require vacating the warmth of home, bracing the winters chill and the apparent frigid community that is BV, just as Prince did on his own for three months until the parade-worthy recovery was made.

You get to know the chameleons and Yentas in animal advocacy and in the circle of “your friends.” Some people went so far as to vilify the effort on a public platform with false claims. Can you imagine if Facebook and the movie Mean Girls merged? Oh wait, I can; it’s called Buena Vista.

During the course of these past three months, I got to know who means business. Those who contributed in any shape or form, no matter how big or small were acknowledged and appreciated, each time. Those who adhered to a moral code and showed it, know who you are. When one’s efforts are valued, it fosters motivation. Respect goes a long way. All those who accused me, go check my posts before you speak. It is my right to express my part in any mission where I carried the burdens of all those who were lacking.

So we pay homage to Prince the dog who is found in a happy ending. Hard work paid off.

To all those who helped, and in the end understood the full implications with kind words and support – thank you. Your cards, your donations, your gratitude is appreciated. It is you who will help save the next dog who suffers when he is lost, wandering, with no destination to go but waiting for those who truly never give up hope.

Monika Courtney
Rural Buena Vista
Editor’s note: Courtney, who emigrated here from Switzerland, runs an animal rescue known as @Thunderbird Spirit Ranch.