Whether your means are big or small, you CAN make a difference in the life of an animal. Won’t you consider volunteering?
Ways You Can Contribute
- Jump right in: Walking dogs, folding laundry, cleaning cages, and grooming animals are just a few of the many ways you can help our animal friends in need. Only occasionally have time to spare? Volunteer a couple of hours for an adoption event; make flyers, set up tables or get an animal to/from the shelter.
- Animal (and human) Enrichment: Getting your hands into fur is therapy for most of us, and spending a few minutes simply snuggled up to a purring kitty, or throwing a ball for a dog to chase will do wonders to relieve the boredom and anxiety all shelter animals face. Have training skills, or want to develop some? Bring a sack of treats and pick out a shelter dog or cat to work with. It’s amazing what a treat and a little patience can do to help a unmannered animal learn a trick or two.
- Going My Way? Headed to a nearby city, across the state or country? Call your local shelter with as little as a days notice and you may be able to transport an animal to a new foster/adoptive home, or meet up with another volunteer to help an animal on one leg of a longer journey.
- Exercise Partner: Do you run or walk and want a bit of companionship? Consider incorporating the shelter into part of your exercise routine. Shelter life is stressful at best for all of the animals housed there. There is always a dog there who would be suitable for teaming up with you, no matter your fitness level. Stop by, grab a leash and you will help to enrich the life of a canine in need!
- Temporary House Guest: Not ready to be a forever home, but still want an occasional animal to love? Foster a grateful dog or cat while it waits for his/her forever home.
- Break Open the Piggy Bank: If you are short on time, but have a few dollars to spare, there are always dogs and cats that require medical attention or training most animal shelters cannot afford. Improve the quality of life for a sick, injured or behavior challenged animal and increase its chances for being adopted. Donate money earmarked for vaccinations, spay/neuter or training; or donate funds to a volunteer run organization like Idaho ACTS (Idaho Animals in Crisis Transport and Support). They transport animals facing euthanasia due to overcrowded conditions to the safety of foster homes and rescues across the United States.
- Join an Organization: Besides the shelter, there are many animal rescue groups you can work with on a local and national level. Like certain breeds of dogs? Consider joining a local rescue organization. For every breed there is a rescue, and a volunteer happy to help you find just the right place for you to get involved.
Humane Society of America
Jan. 2011 Trying to use less, want less, waste less… Today I created an account with DMAchoice.org to reduce the HUGE amount of paper mail I receive.
“DMAchoice™ is an online tool developed by the Direct Marketing Association to help you manage your mail. This site is part of a larger program designed to respond to consumers’ concerns over the amount of mail they receive, and it is the evolution of the DMA’s Mail Preference Service created in 1971.
For the purposes of this site, direct mail is divided into four categories: Credit Offers, Catalogs, Magazine Offers and Other Mail Offers. You can request to start or stop receiving mail from individual companies within each category—or from an entire category at once.”
I discovered a useful blog- The Zero Waste Home This family is light years ahead of most of us on reducing waste. Bea and her family were the subject of a lovely Sunset Magazine (West Jan 2011) “The zero-waste home“
Among other feats, Bea’s closet is as close to perfect as I could dream. She keeps 7 tops, 7 pants, 2 skirts and 7 pairs of shoes. Same idea goes for her husband and two sons. Each has 7 casual tops, 1 dress shirt, 4 bottoms, 3 pairs of shoes, & 1 pair of pajamas per season). My goal this year is to develop a mindset that will allow my closet to more closely resemble hers by year end.
Thanks for the inspiration!
Great re-use/upcycle project for Valentine’s Day!
Even though I live in suburbia lot, I want to grow my own food. If I have to supplement with ‘store bought’, I buy from local, family owned, organic sources who I trust to not contaminate my food with hormones, pesticides, etc.
Recently, our city changed an ordinance allowing residents to care for up to six laying hens. Tending my own hens gives me control over a high quality source of protein for my family.
We have been too far removed from knowing about the food we eat.
To a small-scale gardener like myself, chickens are “pets with benefits”. I give them my kitchen scraps, and free range access to grass and bugs. In return, they give my family fresh eggs, weed and pest control, fertilizer for the lawn and garden, and loads of entertainment.
Hens are also GREAT intruder detectors! They are notoriously territorial so strange person or animal can go skulking through our backyard undetected.
I already mentioned the entertainment factor, right? Who needs tv or even a trip to a movie theater with hens around?! Nothin’ beats watching a flock of chickens livin’ large in the backyard. There’s comedy, drama and action ‘o plenty amongst a flock hens. Just pull up a chair and don’t forget the treats!
These days, keeping chickens makes me part of the ‘in’ crowd. People no longer think I am weird for having hens. Some even keep them as inside pets! There is a multimillion dollar industry that has sprung up around urban homesteading and keeping backyard hens; and in these hard economic times, that is a blessing on many levels.
Fancy chicken coops, chicken tractors, chicken diapers… just listen to this NPR story Backyard Coops Make Chicks Chic for more! Don’t stop reading now!. Google information about your food, you may be surprised about what you learn.
I am grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with nature and provide healthier food for my family. Hope you are motivated to move in a similar direction!
when I think of you,
We met once in an airport.
I, headed home to family
were going off to war.
The pictures you showed me of your
family were beautiful.
You lingered tenderly over each dog-eared photo
as you replaced them in your wallet;
and your face
spoke of your sadness in leaving them.
about the weather and such,
and just before boarding our respective planes,
we shook hands.
You asked me to not forget you.
Your gaze caught mine for only a moment,
but in your calm steady eyes
I saw every soldier
who had gone to war before you.
I knew with certainty
that I would not
The affect our meeting has had on my life
will stay with me always.
Mere words cannot express the gratitude I feel
for your service to our country.
So every day I am mindful
of the liberties I enjoy.
I exercise my freedoms and rights
there is a young mother
forging ahead in raising a soldier’s child
while he risks life and limb for his country.
I pray often for you and yours.
Whenever I vote,
or disagree publically, whatever
the topic of discussion.
When I express my personality
by wearing some daring fashion,
or even when I get the idea
that I NEED ice cream
in the middle of the night.
I picture you, and give thanks
that I am free to be and to do-
anything my heart desires.
I think it would be nice if you were my neighbor.
We could share a scoop of rocky road
and talk about the weather, or our kids.
you are a thousand miles away
and in harm’s way.
I pray you return to your home soon,
and find satisfaction, peace and happiness
that our country is as you left it.
I want you to know
that no matter the politics,
no matter what war,
I support you soldier.
I will strive always
to show, in thought and deed
that I haven’t forgotten
what freedom means.
Before being surrendered at an Idaho shelter, this young American Bulldog lived his life confined to a crate. Urine scald and feces covered his body. He was malnourished and had not been socialized. The neglectful owner said “The dog is too stupid to learn anything.”
Although shelter staff found the young male to be friendly and playful, his breed and lack of socialization made it unlikely he would be adopted. As a longtime animal rescue volunteer and lover of the “bully breeds”, I fell for his big personality and took him home. Little did I know that this dog would be my greatest challenge.
Dogs end up in shelters for a variety of reasons. Some are sick and need medical care. Others are perfectly happy and healthy, but lose their homes due to death of an owner, or an owner may lose a job and the means to care for a beloved pet. Other dogs have behavior issues from abuse and/or neglect. Mostly, animals end up in shelters because they were poorly matched to the energy level and lifestyle of a former owner.
The majority of these animals simply crave what all living creatures need…love, a warm bed, proper nutrition, regular exercise, consistent training and discipline, and the gift of time. Some dogs take a short time to adjust. Others, need the investment of a great deal of time, love, effort and money to be able to go on to live a good life. Einstein was a dog who fit in the later category.
When Einstein began showing aggression towards other dogs while on leash, he lived with an experienced trainer learning calm submissive behavior for several weeks before finally finding his forever home.
Einstein was an extraordinary dog. For all the suffering and abuse he experienced, he remained loving, intelligent and eager to learn. He transformed from an unruly dog on the edge, to a well-mannered, disciplined family pet.
forthcoming upon final edit
I have always been an animal lover. One of my earliest memories is of laying in the grass of a neighbor’s yard, while a litter of puppies covered me with puppy breath, tiny tongues, and soft fur. I have had many pets throughout my life, but with the current state of pet overpopulation in our country, I have begun to wonder about the ethics of “owning” another living creature. Mahatma Gandhi said “The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated…I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by people from the cruelty of human kind.”
My boys, ages 9 and 11, love animals as much as I do. In order to give my children quality ‘fur time’ and experience the joys of living amongst animals, while trying to make sense of the sorrows associated with unwanted pets, we have been volunteering at our local animal shelter. My hope is that by spending time with animals in such an environment, they will learn lessons that will make them better stewards of animals than previous generations.
Like most public shelters ours is underfunded, understaffed, overcrowded and desperately in need of upgrades. Because of the conditions that persist there, despite a dedicated staff, there are days when we are so busy, the boys don’t get to sit and cuddle a puppy or kitten (the ultimate reward) before we have to leave; and though it has been a year since we started, they continue to want to go back. We clean cages, feed animals, do laundry, sterilize equipment, groom animals, walk dogs, vacuum carpets, pick up poop (yea, not my favorite task,) basically anything we see that needs to get done, we jump in and do.
I do not sugarcoat the experience. The work we do is dirty, stinky, physically demanding, and has elicited tears. Yet, the boys find reward in the adoring gaze of the animals, in the wagging of tails that beat and swish when they walk by, and in soft, warm fur they sink their hands into on occasion.
Of course, their favorite part of being at the shelter is interacting with the animals, even the ones who aren’t “pet shop pretty.” The boys have been exposed to every kind of dog imaginable while there. Some are old or sick, abandoned by their owners. There are those who have been, obviously, physically abused or have been neglected and starved; and some who may not show physical signs of abuse or trauma, but are just plain broken.
Hard truths about the failings and weaknesses of humans have become apparent to my young children in witnessing the sadness that persists at the shelter; and we have many long discussions about how and why animals end up at there. My children understand that there are legitimate circumstances such as when people lose their jobs and are no longer able to care for a pet; or when the owner of an animal dies. Harder for all of us, is to see a dog, so abused and distrusting of humans, it lashes out at us for merely appearing before it’s cage. We have seen the wounds inflicted on a “bait” dog, so they know that there are people who intentionally harm animals. Many tears were shed by all of us on that day. My children also know that people just lose interest in pets and they see the sadness and stress the animals suffer as a result.
Shelter life for animals is stressful at best. Imagine being locked in a concrete cage with 30 other stressed and barking (often nonstop) dogs. You smell the fear of all of the animals there; the sickness, and death. The animals sleep, eat and defecate in that small space. Scores of humans pass by the cages each day, poking, cooing and talking, but always leaving. And still, the animals (the majority of them) want to be close to us.
We are constantly amazed by the spirit of shelter animals. Most of them, no matter how horribly they have been abused, still trust that humans are good, and kind and caring. There are days when I wish I had that same undying faith and loyalty in mankind, but 30 minutes at the shelter on any given day reminds me that some humans are not worthy of such faith.
Fortunately, my boys are not so cynical. They simply want to spend time with animals. They find satisfaction in seeing a family consider a dog they have suggested, and joy in watching a cat, they spent time grooming, being adopted by a family. More often, they are fortified, as am I, simply by the feel of a puppy’s soft tongue on their hand, and the purr of a cat as it arches it’s back into their hand.
For my children, I hope the boys take away from their experiences at the shelter a better sense of how to care for creatures dependant on us humans. It’s a start to changing a bigger ideal, and that is enough, for now.
Animals are great teachers. Volunteering at the animal shelter helps my boys learn to balance the joy of caring for another living thing with the sorrow of life at the animal shelter. Hopefully, as they grow up, they will be kind and responsible stewards of all creatures.
As part of his summer fun, Jacob entered a pie eating contest at Shari’s restaurant.
We are so proud. Have decided to liquidate Jacob’s college fund to finance a career in competitive eating.
If you wish to see the local news story, click here.