#GivingTuesday occurs this week, and on this day those of us who advocate for animals can make a big difference for those creatures.
#GivingTuesday allows us to partner with and thank non-profits around the world with a monetary donation. Around this time every year we are bombarded with spending money, from Black Friday deals to Cyber Monday savings. Many of us get wrapped up like a box at Christmas in the buy, buy, buy, and spend, spend, spend – and yes, #GivingTuesday is no exception. However, the big difference between Black Friday/Cyber Monday and #GivingTuesday is that our dollars can do a lot of good on this special day – helping charities continue their good works.
Whether your passions lie with pets or people, or both, you can make a difference on #GivingTuesday; contributing to causes that help others is a very positive endeavor, and oftentimes your donations can and will be matched through grants and other donors.
On this #GivingTuesday, if you’re an animal advocate like me, let’s pool our resources and help pets in need. Donate locally first if you believe in a pet rescue or animal shelter near you; oftentimes, the local organizations receive little to no national funding; our local groups need us, their community, to step up. But, if you want to split your donation between a local and a national group, as I often do, here are a few national animal rescue organizations you might consider supporting:
There are many wonderful organizations, including breed rescues, like English Springer Spaniel Rescue of America, Big Dogs Huge Paws (specializing in breeds such as Mastiffs and Great Danes), and Mid-America Boston Terrier Rescue (I have transported dogs for all three of these groups). If you like a specific breed of dog and want to assist a national rescue group for that breed, visit this American Kennel Club website: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/rescue-network/contacts/.
Another group I like to support is located in Wyoming, but its reach extends beyond state borders. Black Dog Animal Rescue, in Cheyenne, has been around for nearly 10 years, helping shelter dogs scheduled to be euthanized in shelters find new, loving adoptive homes. One of their successful programs pairs prisoners with pups; the inmates work with the dogs regarding obedience and agility training.
My plan for #GivingTuesday is to donate locally, regionally, and nationally, and though I may not have a lot of money, my contribution paired with others can, and does, make a difference.
How about you? Want to help animals in need? I hope you’ll do so on this #GivingTuesday. Animals need people and rescues and shelters need individuals and groups to help them help the animals. Show your compassion and concern today – donate and make a difference!
Thanksgiving is upon those of us living the United States, a time of family, friends, and feasting. However, there are many foods which are good for people but harmful to our pets. Additionally, the comings and goings of loved ones can cause stress in pets.
Here are four tips to help keep your pets healthy and safe during this special holiday:
Read more pet safety tips for Thanksgiving at the following websites:
I wish you and your family, including your four-footed ones, a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!
Animal shelters and rescue organizations often find difficulty in the adoption of senior pets. Our society values youth and beauty, even in animals, therefore senior pets are often overlooked when people consider adopting. However, like mature humans, senior pets offer positive life experiences and provide special companionship.
The month of November is recognized as Adopt-a-Senior Pet Month, a time that animal welfare organizations promote the benefits of adopting senior pets. There are several good reasons that people should adopt mature animals.
In 2008, my husband and I adopted a 10-year-old cocker spaniel that had been used for breeding then then tossed away. We hesitated about adopting him, but we love spaniels, and recognizing his chances of being adopted were not great due to his age, we decided to bring him home and grant him his last few years with a loving family. That dog lived to be nearly 18 years of age! I think in part because we gave him a secure, devoted home, but also because he had a buddy with whom to share life.
In 2013, we again adopted after the passing of our 12-year-old springer spaniel (the cocker, Cody, was still with us and was nearly 15). Cody needed a pal and we needed another companion, recognizing Cody’s ever-increasing age. Therefore, we adopted Mary, a springer/cocker mix; she was nearly 7 years old at the time. We wondered if the 8-year-age difference might be a detriment, but, because of Mary’s low-key, sweet demeanor, the two got along very well, and I believe she enhanced the last 2+ years of Cody’s life, even likely extending his life. Because of her older age, Mary’s personality and size were already in place – there was no guessing. She has been a wonderful addition to our family, devoted, kind, friendly, and sweet, and she helped us cope with Cody’s passing in early 2016.
Some people think if an older dog or cat is in the shelter there must be something wrong with it – not so! Many senior pets are relinquished because the owner can no longer care for them due to the person’s health or even death of the owner. Some of the most wonderful companion animals in need of new homes await another chance to shower a family or individual with devotion and affection, just as they did with their previous owner.
Consider adopting an older pet next time you’re looking for another furry companion. You may ultimately be saving a life – and enriching your own!
Recently, PetSmart came to my community of Casper, Wyoming, the first in the state. I have shopped this big box store for pet supplies in many other towns, enjoying the vast array of food, toy, and treat selections for my animals. Therefore, I was happy to see PetSmart open in my community.
I attended the grand opening, as did many others. How wonderful to see the long lines of pet owners and their beloved animals and to visit with the local rescue groups with which the Casper PetSmart is partnering: cats on one side of the building brought in by Temporary Home Animal Rescue (they rescue cats from Metro, our town’s kill-shelter) and dogs from Black Dog Animal Rescue on the other side of the new store. Our town already had a PetCo, which has been part of the community for several years. I have shopped there also. One of the reasons I shop these stores is not just because of the great varieties of food, toys, and treats, but also because each store has a foundation that supports pet rescue and adoption. Unlike other big-box pet stores, PetCo and PetSmart do not sell dogs, cats, puppies or kittens – they promote adoption and partner with local groups that rescue, spay/neuter, and adopt. This helps in many ways: (1) helps decrease the number of puppy/kitten mills; (2) keeps pet overpopulation/breeding at bay; (3) promotes pet adoption.
The foundations of each of these stores assists rescues and shelters in many ways. PetSmart Charities, for example, promotes pet adoptions and spay/neuter, to save lives. Nearly three million dogs and cats are killed in shelters every year. Through PetSmart stores and the Charities program, adoption events are held several weekends every year; in fact, one is planned for this weekend (check the closest PetSmart store near you). The PetCo Foundation also supports and promotes pet adoption events; the organization also raises awareness about and contributes to finding a cure for cancer in pets. And, both organizations/businesses support disaster relief regarding displaced pets. These are reasons I am happy PetSmart and PetCo are in my community. I like supporting small businesses also; however, the impact of these larger stores not only helps the homeless animals in my town, but also reaches beyond my community, helping animals in need across the country.
Another wonderful organization is Petfinder.com – not only can a person find a new furry friend via the group’s online search of shelters and rescues, but they provide wonderful resources on pet care. Petfinder also has a foundation, the mission of which is to “help ensure that no adoptable pet is euthanized for lack of a good home.” The group also helps in times of natural disaster, including the recent raving wildfires that took place in California.
As I wrote in a blog post last year about “it takes a digital village” to reunite pets, it takes a village to help pets in general. People who work in animal shelters, volunteer or staff rescues, individuals who adopt and donate, and businesses and organizations who partner with those shelters and rescues, and those who donate and/or purchase through those organizations and businesses (like PetCo/Foundation, PetSmart/Charities, and Petfinder/Foundation) – we all work together to help pets in need. Whether they are in need of new homes, of shelter from storms, or medical attention from abuse or disaster, we, as individuals, groups, organizations, and businesses, work together for the betterment of animals.
Animals are heroes; they impact people’s lives. Last week the Hero Dog Awards were presented by the American Humane Association and broadcast on the Hallmark Channel. These seven dogs all impact people, whether through their law enforcement or military service, bringing smiles to people in hospitals and nursing homes, or simply through their tenacious spirit after a time of abuse – dogs inspire us, if we let them.
I recently wrote post about Animal Heroes. This week, I’m pleased to present a guest blogger who will showcase some types of hero dogs, particularly service dogs who help people with various afflictions. For years, I’ve admired organizations who help people in need of service dogs, groups like Canine Companions for Independence, located in Santa Rosa, California, a community devastated by recent wildfires (thankfully, CCI’s facilities and dogs survived that inferno). I hope you enjoy Paige’s article regarding service dogs and the assistance they provide people – these types of dogs are truly heroes!
Guest Post by Paige Johnson
There are vast types of service dogs, including severe allergy alert dogs, autism assistance dogs, mobility support dogs, diabetic alert dogs, medical assistance dogs, emotional support dogs, psychiatric service dogs, and more. These distinctions can be broken down into three major categories: mental illnesses, permanent mental disabilities, and physical conditions that require assistance. The Great Danes from Service Dog Project, Inc., for example, are for mobility. You would be amazed by what this can do for someone who might become stuck behind a 6-inch curb.
This article will touch on each of the above-mentioned major categories, and how having a service dog can significantly improve day-to-day life for people with such conditions.
Perhaps the most complex of the three categories are service dogs that aid physical conditions such as mobility support, allergy alert, medical assistance, and seizure response. These dogs require a substantial amount of training, as outlined by Paws Training Centers. It can take years to fully prepare a dog for the complexities of physical support. Each situation is different. For this reason, training regimens vary greatly.
Common skills include the ability to notice people approaching, to respond to a name, recognize specific sounds or smells (such as detecting low blood sugar levels), seek help from others, press a medical button, wake up an owner or retrieve personal items. Physical support dogs should be able to apply pressure, cuddle on cue, respond to anxiety or panic attacks, and interrupt nightmares or night terrors caused by PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). As you can probably tell, physical support dogs accept a great deal of responsibility for the health and well-being of their owners. They are, quite literally, life-saving animals. Therefore, when you notice a support dog in public, you should never approach without asking first. These dogs are trained to detect danger and could perceive you as a threat, and they are working, caring for their special person. Physical support dogs are far from pets. They are considered companions and dogs with a job.
People with issues such as panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, and depression are aided by emotional support dogs. These dogs require little or no training. They can live in all rented spaces, much like other support dogs. However, they are not always allowed in public places. This is because any pet can be considered an emotional support animal. You can register guinea pigs, cats, dogs, rabbits, or ferrets. If you feel comforted in the presence of your pet, you can register him or her as a support animal. Most non-pet apartment complexes will ask for a record of your counseling or mental diagnosis to ensure that you aren’t taking advantage of the system.
If you choose to get a service dog for your mental illness, understand the difference between a physical and emotional support dog. Should you decide to bring your dog to public spaces as though he or she is a physical support animal, it is your responsibility to provide training. Learn more about access and legal issues through Nolo.
It’s also worth noting that many people who are in recovery from substance abuse addiction find that companion animals are great options for support when managing sobriety and navigating through the difficult aspects of recovery. Animals used in this aspect, while offering emotional support, are not eligible for registration as a support animal, but they still provide ample comfort at home.
Not sure if you need an emotional support dog for your anxiety or mental illness? Anxiety Guru can help you make an informed decision.
Permanent Mental Disabilities
Our final category involves permanent mental disabilities such as autism. Called Autism Support Dogs, these animals are somewhere between physical and emotional service dogs. They do, in fact, require training. They are also respected in public areas as a physical support dog. Their job is to calm and ground an individual through deep pressure or tactile stimulation. They may also help teach important life skills. There is special bond between children and dogs, and those youngsters (as well as teens and adults) paired with such service dogs can see improvements in their lives and therefore, also in their loved ones.
All three categories of service dogs can improve your daily life by making you smile, helping you accomplish otherwise impossible physical feats, or comforting you when you need it most. Remember though there are laws against “faking” a service dog, and those people who really need a service animal can be affected by others who decide to try to by-pass the rules about housing or traveling with a dog. True service dogs are vital companions and often life-saving ones for people with various mental and physical issues.
Whether in need of a service dog or not, consider adopting from breed-specific rescues or animal welfare shelters and getting involved in the Canine Good Citizen Program, which is considered the “gold standard” for dog behavior.
Paige Johnson is a fitness nerd and animal lover. She shares her insights on LearnFit. She loves offering advice on a variety of topics. As a personal trainer, she has a passion for fitness training and enjoys sharing her knowledge with those seeking to live a healthier lifestyle. She's also mom to three dogs, all rescues, and volunteers at her local animal shelter. Through her time with her own pups and working at the shelter, she's picked up some great tips on pet care and training.
Photos from Pixabay.com
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.