Compassion Fatigue

Dear Wombat and Dingbat,

Do you two ever experience compassion fatigue? The children being separated from their parents at our border make me incredibly mad, but at the same time, I’m feeling a cold, stunned disbelief kicking in. This can’t possibly be happening, can it? I want to stay present, but I don’t want the constant anger in my life….

Sincerely, WTAF

Wombat?

Yeah?

What is “fatigue”? I don’t think I know that one.

Well, it’s like being tired.

Tired like feeling sleepy and ready for a nice nap, or tired like panting hard from playing chase in a big field?

Well, the way WTAF is talking about, I don’t think it’s either. It more of a sad tired, like you’re tired in your soul instead of your body.

Huh. Really. Yeah, no, I don’t experience that. My brain gets tired, and sometimes my body gets tired. I don’t know what my soul is or where I keep it, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get tired. Or sad. OK, I’m a little vague on the “sad” concept in general.

Yeah, I’m not sure that this is the best question for dogs. It turns out that humans worry about a bunch of things that they can’t see or hear or smell. Which is weird. But then, it turns out that humans DO a lot of things that affect things that they can’t see or hear or smell. Which is confusing, I know.

So compassion fatigue is when you get sad and tired from worrying about things that you can’t see or hear or smell.

I think so. More or less.

Is WTAF worrying about things he can change?

Well, that’s where it gets really tricky. He can’t fix it like when your ball gets stuck under the couch and the Human reaches under and gets it, then it’s fixed.

Until it gets lost again.

But maybe if enough people did enough things to say that they are unhappy, then maybe someone with the power to fix it would come do that.

So like if a whole bunch of people were to stand by the couch and keep barking, maybe someone would come and get the ball.

Yeah, like that. Only it isn’t clear if the humans who are able to fix things really care that other humans are unhappy about what they are doing. So humans like WTAF are barking and barking, but no one in charge seems to want to fix anything.

That’s pretty frustrating. And I guess they have children stuck under the couch instead of balls, which is even sadder. They should give the children kisses. That is what I would do.

But remember the children aren’t even anywhere close by. And they are stuck where you can’t get to them.

Wow. This is super complicated.

It is.

Here is my best idea. You never know when barking might get someone’s attention. Never give up on barking, I say.

So I’ve noticed.

But, also, the Human says that there needs to be time for no barking. Which apparently is why I am sleeping in a box at night instead of on the bed.

I can’t say that I’m following.

Well, what I am saying is that WTAF should keep barking about the children stuck under the couch, because that is important, but that he should only do it for part of the day, and then let it go when it is not barking time. Like maybe WTAF could decide that they are going to spend two hours a week making noise about problems and seeing if they can get someone to fix things. They could put in the calendar what they are going to do and when they are going to do it. And, you know, do it. And then they would know when they were done, and that it wouldn’t help anything to just worry and feel sad all the time.

That is surprisingly logical.

Thank you. But Wombat?

Yes, Dingbat?

Are there really humans that don’t care if the ball is stuck under the couch or the water bowl is empty or even that it’s dinner time? Even if there are children stuck under the couch? How does that even happen?

This is going to be hard to believe, but that is a question that is too hard even for me.

My jaw is hanging open.

I can tell. You’re drooling.

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4 thoughts on “Compassion Fatigue

  1. Children stuck under the couch! …I’ve long believed that laughter is the sound of sanity returning. Thanks W&D for an image that brings a chuckle to an awful situation.

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