Daniel’s Dream

” Nothing Happens Unless First a Dream. “

~ Carl Sandburg

Who is Daniel and What is His Dream?

Daniel was almost certainly a hunting dog failure as evidenced by his inability to catch a rabbit and therefore found himself a stray in Alabama.  He was brought to a shelter in Florence and only had three days to get adopted or be claimed by his owner.  Unfortunately, when the three days were up, Daniel was scheduled to be killed in a gas chamber.  The horrific gas chamber had actually been outlawed in Alabama beginning in 2012, but this was October 2011 and they had a “grace period” to still use it.  Daniel was loaded in with 17 other dogs and the gas was turned on for a full 30 minutes.  Upon completion, the door was opened.  All the other dogs had passed away but somehow Daniel was there wagging his tail!  That is the moment he received his name Daniel, for the biblical story of Daniel in the Lion’s den. He made his way to New Jersey and was adopted into our family on November 10, 2011.  Daniel loved being with us and our four other dogs, but more awaited him than just hanging out in the Dwyer household.

As Daniel’s Dad, I share his dream. Please listen in to learn why.

Daniel and I attended many rescue events to support adoptions and help them raise financial resources.  We traveled to different states to assist in their efforts to ban the use of the gas chamber.  In 2012 Daniel was nominated to the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Award.  When I received Daniel’s award at the Beverly Hills Hilton in California, I had one minute to give a speech.  I said that when Daniel emerged from the gas chamber he had a dream.  His dream was that every animal would live in a loving home and would receive the respect and compassion they deserve, hence the name “Daniel’s Dream”.

After operating as a dog rescue for six years, “Daniel’s Dream” is now a rescue resource, a place to provide support to the rescue of all animals.

How Our Journey Will Proceed

Based on your input to me, I have focused on the top needs of animal rescues. I have written some thoughts for each one of them, and have also selected a time or situation that most suits that particular need.  Accompanying this will either be a recorded video or a written reflection/prayer for you to have during these challenging situations.  My hope is that it brings you some peace and strength to continue saving these precious animals.

When we make these connections, you and your staff/volunteers will feel a little better emotionally, and more animals will be saved.

As for compensation, I am not asking for anything.   My passion is to help others by offering support which is badly needed.   However, if you would like to make a donation, I would certainly appreciate it.  Most of what I obtain will go towards animal rescue efforts.

Thank you so much for all you do every day for the animals we share the planet with!

Let's Begin

Daniel was almost certainly a hunting dog failure as evidenced by his inability to catch a rabbit and therefore found himself a stray in Alabama.  He was brought to a shelter in Florence and only had three days to get adopted or be claimed by his owner.  Unfortunately, when the three days were up, Daniel was scheduled to be killed in a gas chamber.  The horrific gas chamber had actually been outlawed in Alabama beginning in 2012, but this was October 2011 and they had a “grace period” to still use it.  Daniel was loaded in with 17 other dogs and the gas was turned on for a full 30 minutes.  Upon completion, the door was opened.  All the other dogs had passed away but somehow Daniel was there wagging his tail!  That is the moment he received his name Daniel, for the biblical story of Daniel in the Lion’s den. He made his way to New Jersey and was adopted into our family on November 10, 2011.  Daniel loved being with us and our four other dogs, but more awaited him than just hanging out in the Dwyer household.

Emotional support/Connecting head and heart. For those times when we realize we cannot save them all, yet.

We know the feeling. That one dog who looks at us with a plea for help, and the odds are clearly stacked against us.  The precious animal is very old and sick, and would be very difficult to adopt. The vets are telling us that surgery is an option but recovery is a longshot at best.

This is one of several situations we face that drains our bank account, our heart and soul, and our time.  Our head is telling us one thing, but our heart is pulling us hard in the other direction.

We would not be feeling this turmoil if we had not entered this vocation to rescue. It is who we are, and it carries us through many different scenarios.  All that said, we know that the best decision here is one we do not want to make.

We need to visualize our head connecting with our heart, and have a conversation that not only provides the best decision but also puts us at peace.

Practical thoughts:
Try and take a step back, take 3 deep breaths and really consider all that is happening with the situation.  Imagine that this dog is not before you, but a fellow rescuer, and you are the one providing insight and advice.  If after these steps you still want to move forward with the rescue, then do not second guess yourself.  Focus on the dog before you and go forward.

Spiritual Strength

Before you take any actions, please read this reflection in these situations:

Loving God,
I make still my mind and heart
And I relax and surrender myself to You.
I send my peace and strength to all creation
And I listen to you in the silence.

What’s love got to do with it?

The need for some love increases when we feel drained from saving the animals we care so much about.  The love we feel when we save an animal is like a delicious (vegan) meal in your refrigerator.  You have to experience it, and really taste it to enjoy it.  The celebration of a saved animal needs to be like this; a priority for you, for those you work with, and most important the world.

Practical thoughts:
This is a good time to use social media. In doing this, I strongly suggest you promote what emotions the saved animal has triggered in humans more so than what you have done for that animal. This will spread the love more than anything.

Spiritual strength:
When an animal is saved, spend time meditating over this reflection:

Loving soul
Remember me as loving you
All life is sacred
Allow my heart to continue to be filled with love for all life.
I will strive to be infinite love
My true self is God within me, the source of all love
Let my love shine forth every day, inspired by the animals in my life.

Patience is Truly a Virtue

Patience does not seem to be prevalent in a world where we are saving animals that continue to flow towards us like a raging river, and the many people who frustrate us by not acting as responsible owners.  I realize that previous statement was tempered down, but why would I want to test your patience even more?  That said, patience is important for our own emotional health and our ability to help more animals in need.

Working on our levels of patience during the “down times” of life will go a long way to assisting us when we are in the height of a rescue situation. For instance, remaining calm while we drive behind a slow driver on the highway or taking in a few deep loving breaths as we wait in line at the food store, can be our training ground for patience.

Practical thoughts:
In martial arts, we work on repetition of techniques at a slow and deliberate pace. This helps to make the technique that much more effective if we were to ever have to really use it. Visualize each of these situations as a success and training for the patience you need in the rescue scenario.

Spiritual Strength:
When you are faced with a rescue situation that tests your patience, meditate on this reflection:

Loving Creator
Your souls suffer everywhere at the hands of humans
May your blessing be upon these animals and may your spirit soften the hearts of humans.
May they repent and embrace peace and compassion.

Fundraising With a Twist

Some call fundraising fun, but many call it a necessary evil. I tend to believe the latter.  However, I do have 10 years of experience in fundraising for a nonprofit, and it can be fun at times.  It is often the case that rescues raise financial resources when the need arises. For instance, an animal is sick and you need to raise the money to pay vet bills. Let’s pause a moment for a few important terms.

            Financial resources, NOT money

            Gifts from generous donors, NOT money from people

            These terms are more acceptable and tend to bring more donors to your rescue.

Here is my recommendation for fundraising:

Attempt to run a once a year annual campaign for all of your needs. Statistics show that when organizations do this, they raise more resources than when they ask for help multiple times a year. The early November time frame is also good. It works well with the season of Thanksgiving, it helps donors with tax write offs, and it is early enough that people have not spent their entire Christmas club money!

In the campaign, have suggested levels of giving with “titles’, such as a $1,000 gift is a gold club member, etc. However, make sure you say that every gift is appreciated!

Hopefully you have a mailing list to use. The best way to find new donors is to get references from your current or prior donors, so ask them.

I have always believed that a thank you is better.  If you send a plaque to a donor, they will wonder why you spent your money on that. In the thank you, a picture from a rescued animal, with a written thank you from the animal is a nice touch.

After about 2-3 years of successful annual campaigns, you may consider a reception for your donors. Local restaurants will work with you and possibly even donate the food. Make sure it is not a 5-star dinner, or they will again wonder why you spent the money on that. Simple food is fine. This provides an opportunity for donors to “bring a friend” and for you to highlight all of the good you did with their generous gifts.

I am happy to work with you on details for this plan. Please contact me.

A refection for your fundraising efforts:

Most loving Creator,
We thank you for all of the gifts you bestow upon us, especially from the people who assist us with their generosity.
Please keep this life-giving river flowing so we can act as responsible stewards, and help the many animals in need placed in our midst.

 

Compassion & How it Affects You

Compassion fatigue is the “cost of caring for others” in emotional and physical pain. It is characterized by deep physical and emotional exhaustion and a pronounced change in the helper’s ability to feel empathy for their patients, their loved ones and their co-workers.

I am sure this sounds familiar, if not the term, certainly the description. I believe that if you are not feeling some of this, you are not really rescuing animals. Having some experience of my own, I feel pretty strongly about this. However, we need to be very careful, as compassion fatigue can lead to burnout and then you are of no value to the animals or yourself. There is good news though!

I have presented on compassion fatigue to rescues and veterinary groups, and there is hope to fight off this foe.

While studying martial arts, I developed The Three A’s of Self-Defense; awareness, attitude and action. I have modified my three A’s of self-defense to fit rescues. This is appropriate since compassion fatigue can be a dangerous opponent to us, like a mugger on the street.

Awareness is our first A. It is very important to be aware of your emotional and physical health, and the key here is to see if there is a change in the way we are feeling. For instance, if you are a bad sleeper, but now it becomes worse for a few days in a row, that is a warning signal to be aware of.

Attitude is the next A. We should always try to keep an even keel attitude, with no huge highs or lows in daily life events.

Action is the third A, and it leads into our practical thoughts for compassion fatigue.

Please make it a priority to develop a self-care plan that works for you. Focus on simple things and break them down into morning, afternoon, and evening. As an example, morning is for a brisk 20-minute walk, afternoon is for 10 minutes of meditation, and evening is to read for 30 minutes. In that example, we are looking at an hour’s investment of time. However, that should be the minimum amount.

Next, we are going to change this self-care plan every two months so that the options we select remain fresh and helpful to us. It would be great if you can connect with an accountability partner for this.

Make self-care your top priority.

A reflection for compassion fatigue:

Loving Creator,
Help us to always seek You, Your comfort and strength
Help us to keep our vision close, but realistic
In our heart, mind, and soul.
We live in joyous harmony and mutual respect with all creation.
Let us proclaim kindness and compassion to all, starting with our self
As we continue to stand in awe at the holy wonder of a loving universe.

Energy Levels / Rest

Vince Lombardi said, “The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win”.

We talked about self-care and its importance battling compassion fatigue, but self-care must be weaved into your daily life to gain the energy you need to perform the beautiful acts of saving animals.

A prize fighter prepares 100 hours or more for each minute of a fight. Their “fight” is not nearly as important as the fight you perform each day to save animals in need. Therefore, we need to have a preparation plan each day to get ourselves in shape for what we face.

There is also the analogy of the person on an airplane sitting next to someone in need. The flight attendant says to put on your own oxygen mask first so you can then help the person next to you.

Enough analogies and quotes. Please take the time to build your own strength each day before you go out into the rescue jungle. One thing you know for sure, the jungle will always be there, and there will be plenty of animals to save.

Practical thoughts:

     Try and get seven hours of good sleep each night. Turn off you cell phone and do what works for you to get to a sound sleep.

     Upon waking up, DO NOT turn on your phone until you do five minutes of deep breathing and meditation or prayer.

     Strive towards a healthy diet.

     Have someone you can “go to” to vent and talk when stress hits.

     Celebrate your successes. They matter!

Spiritual strength:

Dearest God and Creator
I see You and I see me in You
My heart is strengthened by Your creation and wonder
Touch me each day and awaken me with wisdom
Teach me to balance and to do Your will

Wisdom & Further Thoughts (Communication, leadership, conflict resolution)

We just enjoyed some appetizers on what could be a seven-course meal! I did this on purpose, not as much to wet your appetite, but I wanted you to have some content to read over as you face challenging situations, and reflections to go with it.

This is just a sampling of what I can offer and am happy to deliver it to you. Also included in what I offer is a presentation on leadership, conflict resolution, and communication to name a few.

We can also expand on the information presented here, and apply some strategies to your specific situations. All you need to do is call me.

Albert Schweitzer’s prayer for animals who are suffering

Hear our prayer
For the animals that are overworked,
Underfed, and cruelly treated;
For all wistful creatures in captivity
That beat their wings against bars;
For any that are hunted or lost
Deserted, frightened, hungry;
For all that are put to death…
And for those who deal with them
We ask a heart of compassion
And gentle hands and kindly words

I conclude this part of Daniel’s Dream Rescue Resource by saying, thank you so much for what you do, and continue to do to make this a nicer world for animals and people.

Peace, Joe Dwyer

Would You Like to Help?

If you would like to help with Daniel’s Dream of finding a home for every animal, please visit the donation link below.  Every little bit helps!

Get in touch

Leave your name and email below along with any questions you may have in the message box.

Scroll to Top