Safety net. Somebody to catch us when we fall.
The past two weeks, I learnt the importance of having a safety net to break our fall.
Our shelter is fully volunteer run. We are very dependent on boss and main caretaker of Gentle Paws Wee to oversee the shelter on weekdays.
But the man is not a robot. He falls ill, he has meetings to get to on weekdays, he needs time off.
Three weeks ago, Wee didn't feel well. I am on a training contract where the issue of leave is out of the question. Florence and Choo were on their peak period at work. Feng recently returned to work after a long MC.
Manpower wise, we were all taxed. If there were no other option, Wee would grit his teeth, bear with the pain and plough on at the shelter. Our dogs needed to eat, rain or shine, pain or not.
But we couldn't bear to see Wee carry on by himself, knowing what we knew. We felt an inexplicable heartache and worry at the thought of him going through with it.
Desperate, we messaged some members from our inner circle of regulars, telling them frankly the situation we were facing.
The notice period given was short. It scrambled their schedules. It was a jolt from the blue.
Yet every person I messaged was great about it. Even if they couldn't make it, replies were prompt which allowed us to widen our call for helpers accordingly. We didn't want to trouble more people than necessary.
Suat, Murphy and Weiyi eventually covered in Wee's absence. When I received their ready assent, it finally struck me what gratitude and kindness really meant.
It isn't something you are able to learn in the classroom. You don't know what kindness is until you are at the receiving end of it. And only in the face of such kindness do you in turn find out what gratitude truly feels like.
I've learnt that gratitude is a relief so sweet that you are spurred to pass the kindness on.
In the world of dog rescue, people often lament about the cruelty of humankind. When you see one atrocious act of cruelty after another, it is easy to be swept away by a mixture of outrage and disgust.
But kindness exists. It really does. Ironically, it is in the same world of dog rescue that we experience such simple little acts of kindness to renew our belief in the human race.
An oft played team building game called Trust Fall requires a person to fall backwards from table height into the arms of his group members waiting below.
That week, we fell into the arms of our group members. And the feeling of being caught is really something... special.
You may think I'm making a mountain out of a tiny molehill. But if you were the one calling out for help as anxiously as I was, if the people who lent a hand were as uncomplaining and easygoing as ours were, I am certain you would feel the way that I do.
So thank you Suat, Murph and Weiyi and all those regular volunteers out there who caught us when we fell.
What would we have done without you?