Rhiann sat on a maroon wing-backed chair inside Riverside Veterinary Clinic. Beside her lay Rae, the elderly beagle. In front of her, Colter’s silver-haired veterinarian, Dr. Henry Black, leaned back in a leather chair behind his walnut desk.
“I’m sorry about Rae, but with her age, diabetes, and the glaucoma’s progression, there isn’t much we can do at this stage,” he said, as he steepled his fingers.
Rhiann nodded. “I thought as much. I wish my grandmother’s friend had contacted me sooner. With her own eyesight dwindling, though, she most likely didn’t know how bad Rae’s condition had gotten.”
“That was very kind of you to take her dog.”
Rhiann smiled. “Grams wouldn’t have it any other way. Eleanor was a friend, and we felt it was the right thing to do when she had to move in with her daughter.” Rhiann stood and extended her hand. “Thank you, Dr. Black. I appreciate the opportunity to work with you, both personally and professionally.”
The veterinarian stood and shook her hand. “I look forward to our association, too. I’m sure we’ll be sending clients to one another.”
Rhiann looked at the napping beagle. “Come on, Rae. Time to pick up Jax from the groomer.”
As he walked her to the door, Dr. Black said, “I admire you for planning to establish a rescue here. With our ruralness, I often get in strays and sometimes even pets that owners cannot care for anymore. It will be nice to work with you to ensure these animals find new, loving homes.”
- Excerpt from Rescue Road - A Clean, Contemporary Romance
In my recently-released novel, Rescue Road, my primary female character, Rhiann, rescues dogs. Rae, the elderly beagle mentioned in the above book excerpt, has diabetes and glaucoma, two conditions that not only can go hand-in-hand, but are conditions that often affect aging pets. Arthritis and kidney disease are also common in elderly dogs and cats. As humans age, we also tend toward greater illnesses and afflictions. Yet, for some reason, many people dispose of their senior pets. Perhaps, as in my story, an elderly person goes to live where animals aren’t welcome or that elderly person passes away and no one in the family wants the pet that’s left behind. Whatever the reason, according to an article in Dogtime, "old dogs and cats have higher euthanasia rates or even live out their lives in a shelter kennel.”
Even though older pets aren’t adopted as quickly as younger animals, there are several good reasons to do so. Below are five:
1. Older animals are likely already housebroken and senior dogs more likely to know basic obedience than younger canines.
2. Senior pets make great companions for senior and less active people. They are content to enjoy a leisurely walk around the neighborhood or yard (yes, even some cats are leash
3. They often make great therapy animals, both for the adopter and for certification, going into senior living residences, libraries, schools, and hospitals (yes, old pets can learn new tricks!)
4. Senior animals still have lots of love to give and are devoted to the person caring for them.
5. What you see is what you get. You already know the animal’s size and temperament when you adopt a senior dog or cat.
Find additional reasons to adopt an elderly dog or cat here:
November is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month. My household currently
consists oftwo eight-year-old dogs (older, but not yet quite
senior) and two 14-year-old cats. We adopted Jeremiah, our Shih Tzu
, two years ago and Sadie, our springer spaniel, we adopted less than two months ago. The cats, however, have been with us nearly all their lives; we adopted them at 10 weeks of age just over 14 years ago (they were born in August 2005 and we adopted them in October of that year). We love and adore each pet. They bring us companionship, laughter, and love and they help us exercise, socialize, and relax. I relish cuddle times with them, reading a book, watching TV, or simply
lying in bed. They give their devotion and are always happy to be near. There’s nothing like
coming home after work or errands and having the dogs greet me at the door with happy dances and tail wags and the cats meeting me in the bedroom as I change clothes purring and wanting attention.
Scientists, including medical officials at the Centers for Disease Control, say having a pet makes a person healthier, mentally and physically. If you’re considering adopting a pet, don’t overlook the older and senior animals. They will fill you with joy and give you undivided loyalty. We can all use more of that in our lives. My character, Rhiann, would agree.
Rescue Road is a clean, contemporary romance set in the beautiful state of Montana and is now available, in time for Adopt-a-Senior Pet Month. The book can be purchased
on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo as an e
-book and in print from Amazon. Visit my website to learn more about the book: http://www.gaylemirwin.com/novels.html
Rescue Road purchase links:
Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2W7fpBe
Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/2W7fpBe
Barnes & Noble Nook: http://bit.ly/2BAvqWZ
If you buy the book, you’re eligible for two additional resources: A recipe e
-book of autumn dishes and the first chapter of Book 2 in the Pet Rescue Romance series I’m writing - both FREE to you when you purchase Rescue Road. Simply email
me a copy of your purchase receipt and I will email these freebies to you. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject line, please put Rescue Road Giveaways. I hope you enjoy the story and I look forward to hearing from you! Feel free to share
this information with other readers and pet lovers you know!
The man at the dog park told my husband he was traveling the country with his furry friend, an Australian shepherd mix. He also said the pair were visiting as many dog parks as they could, and that this stop, in our community in Wyoming, was just one of many. The man went on to say he’d been in a car accident a few years previous, and that his dog became a reason for him to get up, do his therapy, and improve his health. He said his dog “saved my life.”
Dogs do that. There are the K9s in the military and on police forces; there are the service dogs for blind and wheelchair-bound people; therapy animals that visit hospitals and nursing homes; and search and rescue dogs who find the lost (read a recent story from Ohio about such a canine who found a missing young child).
Next week, American Humane’s Hero Dog Awards will be shown on Hallmark Channel. This program, in its seventh year, showcases the many wonderful dogs on duty, and this year, the categories include Shelter Dogs. This is wonderfully appropriate since October is National Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month. Car company Subaru recently announced its first Make a Dog’s Day, being celebrated on Tuesday, October 22. This month is certainly “going to the dogs,” and that’s just fine!
The ASPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) estimates more than 3.3 million dogs enter America’s animal shelters every year. Some come in as strays and may be reunited with their owners; others are turned in by their people for various reasons. About half (1.6 million) are adopted and nearly 700,000 dogs are euthanized. October offers shelters, rescues, and others the opportunity to showcase the many wonderful dogs in need of homes through promotion of adoption.
My husband and I recently adopted a rescue dog named Sadie from English Springer Spaniel Rescue of America. She may not be a service dog, military K9, or therapy dog, but she has rescued us. We lost our other springer, Mary, to cancer in April. That loss, like most pet losses, left a hole in our hearts, and left our Shih Tzu, Jeremiah, without a canine friend. Sadie is filling both voids. She and Jeremiah haven’t drawn as close and he and our other springer, but when Greg and I are away from the house, she at least provides companionship for him. Sadie has bonded strongly with my husband. She stays with him in his home office, goes for walks in the dog park and around the neighborhood, and spending time on the couch watching TV as well as outdoors in our back yard. That hole left by the passing of our other springer is slowly healing, thanks to a hyper springer spaniel named Sadie.
I’ve heard others say the same. After the passing of one pet, the adoption of another helps the healing from the loss. Dogs (and cats) help us in other ways, too. They fill a gap, for loneliness, for service, for recovery, for friendship. We rescue dogs, and they rescue us in many, varied and special ways.
So, this month, consider adopting a dog in need. And, if you can’t adopt, do something else to help, like volunteer, donate supplies or money, attend events. And always remember to be the best responsible pet parent as possible! We rescue dogs and they rescue us.
NOTE: My forthcoming novel, Rescue Road, is about second chances, both for the humans and the animals in the story. Releasing next month in honor of both October’s National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month and November’s National Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month, the book highlights the importance of pet rescue and adoption and provides resources to do just that at the back of the book. Rescue Road will be available in both print and e-book format and is scheduled for release on November 9, 2019. Learn more about the novel and watch a short book trailer here: http://www.gaylemirwin.com/novels.html
Last week I wrote about timing and adoption. Well, for my husband and I, the timing was just right. Our family unit changed last weekend – we adopted another dog! Our springer/cocker mix Mary died of cancer in April, leaving our shih tzu Jeremiah without a canine companion - and my husband without one as well.
Mary was primarily Greg’s dog, although she greeted everyone with a wag of her stubby tail. He missed his furry friend and about a month ago, we began looking. Greg’s one stipulation: we had to adopt another springer spaniel, or springer mix. Last week, we learned of one in our region that needed a home. We filed the adoption application, spoke to the foster “dad,” and made an appointment to visit on Sunday afternoon. Sadie, an 8-year-old springer spaniel, spent Sunday night in our home, thanks to English Springer Spaniel Rescue of America.
Adopting a new pet is an exciting adventure! A new life, a new friend, a new routine, all wrapped into a bundle of joy, love, and loyalty ... and in our case, energy! Sadie may be considered “middle-age” in years, but her energy level is that of a teen-pup. We’ve nicknamed her “Rocket Dog!” First thing each morning, she jettisons from her sleeping kennel, runs through the house to the back door, and launches herself into the backyard. She runs, and runs, and runs. The spaniel smile she displays captures a person’s heart. The joy she exhibits for life inspires … and wears a person out!
We knew to expect this behavior. She lived in her foster home for nearly a month; therefore, the family experienced her energetic, OCD-like, behavior. She receives medication daily to help calm her through the day, and she responds well to the drug. Greg also takes her on two to three walks daily, and she is learning to slow her stride better each day. Fortunately, we own recreational property not far from our house, and this weekend, we plan to take Sadie there for the first time. There’s an enclosed area there that Greg built last year for Mary that will become our new dog’s “off-leash” area, and we know she will enjoy that special space, even more probably than she does our fenced backyard.
Sadie and Jeremiah get along fine … except when the bigger dog doesn’t watch for the smaller one and steps on him. However, Jeremiah stands his ground and lets out a growl to help her understand she needs to keep a better watch where she’s going! I hope they become good friends, for Jeremiah and Mary relished a special bond, and I know he misses that connection. He and Sadie may never have the same relationship as he did with Mary, but Greg and I would love to see them lay next to each other on the couch or dog bed in the near future.
Adopting a new pet is not only exciting, but it can also be challenging. Integrating an animal into the household, especially a home with already-established pets, changes dynamics. Sometimes the pets already in the house don’t readily accept a new addition, and sometimes that acceptance just takes a while. A new pet can come with physical or emotional issues, as Sadie has, but that doesn’t make the animal “less than,” any more than such challenges makes a human child “less than.” Patience, perseverance, and understanding are critical in these situations, and being willing to go the extra mile for that animal in need is vital.
Greg and I are committed to helping Sadie feel secure and loved. What we will receive through the journey is priceless – the trust and loyalty of a beautiful creature. She’s already given us kisses, and a week hasn’t even gone by yet.
Rescued pets give us what many people do not: unconditional love and devotion. A person’s life is enriched by those things that money can’t buy. We’re blessed to share our home and our lives with Sadie, and the many other animals who have graced us with their presence over the years.
What animals have you adopted over the years? How have they enriched your life? Feel free to leave a comment.
Our springer/cocker mix, Mary, died in the spring due to cancer. Our household is emptier without her. Her happy personality, enjoyment of people and the outdoors, her comforting presence is greatly missed. We needed time to grieve. Now, we feel ready to add another dog to our family.
How does a person know when the time is right to adopt a pet?
That all depends on the person. I’ve known individuals and families who have lost furry friends and never adopt another. I’ve also known people who missed their animal so much, they took hardly any time to bring home another pet. Only you know for sure when the time is right.
Whether you’re considering adding another dog or cat to your household as we are or if you’re looking for a pet for the very first time, you should do some preparation, not only mentally but physically. For example, make sure your house is ready to welcome a furry friend. If you’re looking to get a cat, make sure you have a litterbox and cat litter, some catnip mice and other toys, and a climbing/scratching post as well as food, water, and dishes. Therefore, when you bring Kitty home, she’ll have all the basic things she needs right away.
The same goes for a dog. Do you have toys, food, pans for the food and water, a dog bed, collar and leash? Do you have a yard and plans for exercising your pup? Are you mentally prepared for the responsibility of caring for a dog?
September is considered Dog Ownership Responsibility Month, a time to remember that pet owners are responsible for the life and care of their animal. Ownership responsibility is EVERY DAY of EVERY MONTH. Therefore, the very first thing you need to recognize before adopting a pet is to accept that responsibility for the animal’s life. blDo you have time to properly care for a pet? Are you willing to spend time, not just feeding and watering your dog or cat (or whatever type of pet you have), but engaging with the animal, exercising, exploring, playing, even sitting on the couch and watching TV. Know the activity level of the pet you’re considering; if it’s a herding or hunting breed, like a border collie or springer spaniel, that dog will need lots of exercise and engagement. If you’re considering adopting a cat, you don’t have to walk it or go to the dog park, but you should still plan playtime, especially for a kitten or young adult.
If you have other pets in the house and are looking to add another, as we are, make sure the animal can accept coming into a household with other animals. And, have a plan of introducing, say your new dog to the cats in your household. Our home includes two elderly cats and a middle-aged shih tzu. We have experience introducing a new dog into the household; we adopted Mary in 2013 and had the cats then as well as an aging cocker spaniel. Mary’s laid-back personality and the fact we brought the elderly cocker with us to meet her helped make the transition easy, even with the cats. When we adopted Jeremiah, the shih tzu, he and Mary spent time in the car and in a hotel room together, helping to seal their bond immediately. We introduced Jeremiah to the cats slowly, intentionally, and within a few short months, the household was peaceful, although anxiety reigned for the first few months. That’s to be expected as everyone gets used to each other.
There’s a lot to think about when considering bringing a pet home, whether it’s your first adoption or your tenth. There are many resources, including pet adoption checklists, that you can review and may find helpful; find a few below:
When should you adopt a pet? Whenever you are ready!
Schools are dismissing, temperatures are rising, and the sun is shining, combining to chorus that summer is here! If you’re looking for a companion to share the longer days, warm nights, and great adventures that come with this season, look no further than your local animal shelter or rescue.
Adopting a four-legged friend can add fun to your summer! Hiking, camping, basking in the warm of your patio or deck, relaxing with an engaging book, beach combing, traveling to a state or national park or seashore, visiting family and friends – all of these adventures can be even more enjoyable with a dog or cat at your side (or on your lap!). The soft purrings from a feline friend; the excited woofs from a new canine companion, the joys of running, playing fetch, wading in water, or simply relishing the quiet of your own back yard, all with a new-found buddy, adds flavor of contentment and joy to summer season.
June is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month. Cat or dog, rabbit, hamster, horse, whatever animal delights you and adds joy, love, and friendship to your life, take to the internet and find that perfect companion for yourself and/or your family. Millions of dogs and cats are housed in animal shelters every year in America, and thousands more are cared for by volunteer foster families helping animal rescue groups. Horses, birds, rabbits, and other creatures also go into rescue; therefore, a person has a plethora of animals from which to choose.
Before adopting any animal, however, keep these tips in mind:
For resources and further information about adopting a pet, visit these websites:
Even if adoption of a pet is not an option for you at this time, there are many ways you can help homeless animals – find a valuable resource with a list of ideas here:
Enjoy your summer with your furry friend or by helping animals in need at your local rescue or shelter!
I vividly remember the first day I saw him – tawny brown eyes staring at me through the kennel fence. He’d been brought in by someone who thought she’d rescue him from a backyard breeder, but her two already-adopted dogs wouldn’t accept a still-intact male. So, the woman brought the 10-year-old cocker spaniel into the local animal shelter, hoping he’d find a new home quickly. However, the shelter manager told me, despite his pedigree as a purebred cocker spaniel, his age might keep him from being adopted very quickly. It didn’t. Cody came home with me three days later, after a neutering, bath, and groom. We traveled together, shared time on the couch together, and enjoyed walks and dog park adventures together. He lived more than seven more years after I adopted him; Cody was nearly 18 years old before he passed away in my home. He was a wonderful companion for me and for the blind dog also living in my home at that time.
Some animal welfare groups estimate nearly 25 percent of dogs that enter animal shelters and humane societies are purebred. Several groups also estimate that only 2 percent of stray cats brought in to such facilities are reclaimed by their owners. I’ve adopted both dogs and cats from animal shelters and pet rescue organizations since I became an adult. Adoption saves lives and provides individuals and families with a wonderful furry friend. Adoption is kindness in action.
This week is known as Be Kind to Animals Week, a time set aside by animal welfare organizations to remind us all that just as people need kindness in their lives, so do animals. Every year, nearly 1.5 million dogs and cats die in shelters across the United States because not enough people adopt; that number translates to nearly 2,000 EVERY SINGLE DAY. Kindness + compassion = adoption.
Pets and People Help Each Other
Pets not only bring joy to the lives of their human caregivers, but they also benefit people in many other ways: they help reduce blood pressure and weight, they help keep our cholesterol low, and they provide us with love and devotion like no other. Pets help us be more social – ever gone to a dog park where no one talks to each other? We laugh more, we exercise more, and we dote on our “fur-kids” with toys, treats, and costumes, bringing more smiles to our faces when they pose for us, lick our faces, and beg for belly rubs. In short, animals our good for our minds, bodies, and spirits. How can we NOT be kind to them?
Yet, every day, dogs and cats (as well as rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, horses, and others) await loving, kind people to give them a forever home. Could that person be you?
Kindness = Adoption
It’s been about a month since our 13-year-old springer/cocker mix, Mary, passed; my husband and I are considering adopting another dog not only as an extra companion for us, but also for our beloved Shih Tzu, Jeremiah. Pets grieve the passing of other household members, and I’m sure Jeremiah would enjoy once again having a four-footed companion as much as we would. This week is an ideal time to get more serious about adopting another pet.
I hope you’ll also take time this week to consider adding a new pet to your household. By being kind to a pet in need you could be saving not just one life, but two: the animal you adopt and the one waiting to take its place at the shelter or rescue. You can find your next furry friend at your local animal shelter, humane society, or pet rescue organization, through Best Friends Animal Society or the ASPCA, through a breed rescue group, or at Petfinder.com, ShelterPetProject.org, and AdoptaPet.com.
Resources for Adopters
There are many wonderful resources for people who adopt animals. Below you’ll find three, two for being better prepared to add that four-footed companion to your household, and the other listing several great reasons to adopt a pet:
There’s a funny song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” – did you get one of those? Sometimes families or individuals bring home a new pet as a Christmas gift, maybe not a hippo but a dog, cat, or guinea pig. Is that you this year? No matter what time of year you bring a new pet into your household, your life is going to be different – just as it is when a new human baby arrives. Here are a few tips to help you, your family, and your new pet friend adjust to the “new normal:”
These are just five tips to consider before and after you bring home a new pet. There are many other ideas offered by the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and Petfinder, two sites which provide pet adoption opportunities and pet care tips:
Pets bring people deep joy through their antics and their devotion. Studies show pets benefit people emotionally and physically, helping with depression, cholesterol, and blood pressure, among other things. A pet is a special gift, and it’s a gift for life. Take care of your new pet and it will take care of you!
“So far, we’ve done 72 cats and kittens and we still have 20 to 30 more to go,” explained the woman who sat across the table from me.
We shared coffee and conversation during my recent visit to Oregon for a family reunion. I learned about the all-volunteer pet rescue organization Hope 4 Paws – Grant County from two different people while visiting relatives in Prairie City, Oregon, and after garnering a contact phone number, I was now learning more about the group. With so many feral, unaltered cats in the community of John Day, this group had secured a grant as well as local donations and was working with an area veterinarian to spay and neuter cats in a mobile home park. Most of the felines were being fixed under a Trap-Neuter-Return program, while many kittens were being vaccinated and altered then adopted to loving families. This small group of people (less than 12 volunteers) made a commitment to their community and to the animals of that community to help animals in need. I left a small donation to help toward the next round of vaccinations and spay/neuter as well as two of my books to use as part of a future fundraising endeavor.
Commitment is critical to pet rescue. For the past 10 years in my state of residence, Wyoming, a pet rescue organization has committed to not just helping pets in need, but to saving lives of animals in the state’s kill-shelters. Black Dog Animal Rescue (BDAR) began saving dogs’ lives throughout the state, fostering them in volunteers’ homes, and adopting them to new loving families. During the past decade, the organization has grown, now also taking in cats, and instituting a partnership with a medium correctional facility to implement a program preparing dogs for adoption behavior and training program called P.A.C.K. – inmates work with the dogs on obedience and some agility training. A recent program graduate named Niffy, now christened Tiffy, was adopted by one of my friends.
Barb began looking for a dog a few months ago and asked me for advice on where to adopt. I gave her several suggestions, including BDAR. She was familiar with the organization from a family member living in Cheyenne, the community where BDAR is located, about a 3-hour drive from our town of Casper. Barb and her husband took a day to drive down after putting in an adoption application for this 2-year-old border collie cross they had seen on BDAR’s website. Barb was looking for a dog which would hike, run, and bike with her, and Niffy appealed to her due to the border collie’s nature of being energetic. She also considered putting the dog into an agility program, another activity for which border collies are skilled. Barb was impressed with both the dog and the organization.
“They were very knowledgeable and answered all of my questions,” she told me after adopting from BDAR. “It’s been a long time since I’ve adopted a dog. It was a pleasant and positive experience, and I’d recommend BDAR and do it again. And Tiffy – I just love her! She was shy the first few days but now she has learned the routine of the house. She is smart, she is affectionate, and she learns quickly. I’m excited to see how she does with agility.”
Why do I support animal rescue? For several reasons, including the fact pet rescue is necessary. With nearly seven million animals going into shelters across the country every year, and the many strays and community cat colonies with little to no medical needs met, rescues are critical to the health and welfare of both community animals and humans. All this takes commitment. Many times, as in the case of Oregon’s Hope 4 Paws, it’s a group of volunteers who make that commitment. BDAR began as an all-volunteer organization, but saving the lives of dogs and cats across an entire state is a huge, fulltime job. Therefore, the group now provides a small staff; but, they continue to rely upon volunteers to help, as most non-profit organizations do. The commitment of people to help animals in need inspires and awes me; therefore, I suppport these organizations who do this work.
Without commitment from staff members and volunteers, where would the animals, and the communities, be? I’m so grateful to these and all the animal rescue organizations for what they do, and I will continue supporting pet rescue groups in various ways as long as I live.
How about you? What can you do to help pet rescue groups in your area? For ideas, visit these websites:
Earlier this month, a day was dedicated to pets with special needs, also known as “specially-abled” pets. Once termed “disabled,” that label infused “not able,” and though pets that are blind, deaf, three-legged, diabetic, etc. may require additional care and patience, these animals are first and foremost dogs and cats, just like any other.
I lived with a blind dog for more than a decade. Her name was Sage, and she taught me many valuable life lessons. In fact, my authorship sprouted because of her. We visited schools, libraries, and bookstores, and she inspired many others with her abilities despite her disability. Other specially-abled pets do the same – they are amazing in how they adapt to their limitations. For example, given the opportunity to have a K-9 cart, pets with immobile back legs race around in play and fun just like an animal with all four functioning legs. I’ve even seen dogs with short front legs adapt to using their hind legs for propulsion, much like a kangaroo.
Their courage, perseverance, joy, and adaptability are inspiring. Sadly, many blind, deaf, two-legged and other specially-abled pets are euthanized because they are perceived as less adoptable; many consider it “more humane” to kill them. Do we perceive the same of people who are blind, deaf, or in wheelchairs?
A wonderful blog post at Pets for Patriots discusses the beauty and joy, as well as some of the challenges, of having a special needs pet. Here’s a link to the post – I hope you’ll take time to read the encouraging words and view photos of some veterans who have specially-abled pets sharing their lives. https://petsforpatriots.org/understanding-the-special-in-special-needs-pets/
Don’t be afraid to adopt a dog or cat with special needs. Not only will you likely be saving a life, but your own life will be enriched by the presence of these loving, fun animals who know no difference between themselves and other pets. Watch this delightful video of a blind and deaf puppy named Piglet, who has learned commands through touch and plays energetically with his canine siblings:
Below is a photo of Sage, my blind dog, navigating stairs. Blind, yes, capable, yes, inspiring, yes!
February is known for two main things: Valentine’s Day and Hallmark Movie love-stories.
Love is a Hallmark movie… well, not for everyone, and certainly not for every companion animal. Pets are called companion animals for a reason – to provide companionship to people, to be devoted, loving, faithful… and they would be, if only we let them. Instead, many cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, even turtles and lizards are mistreated, neglected, and abused. Where is their Hallmark Valentine hero/heroine?
In truth, humans and animals share this one thing in common: rejection. The person you love and trusted abandons you, mistreats you, breaks your heart and spirit. Yet, many people and pets have another thing in common: resiliency. We pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, as they say, and carry on. That perseverance may take months, even years, but when we dig deep inside ourselves and we let others help and encourage us, we discover that fortitude and we move ahead to a brighter future.
For animals as well as us, that brighter future involves compassionate, kind people. When you watch a Hallmark movie, friends surround the broken-hearted, hurt individual, encouraging them to be open to love again. And, surprise, surprise, s/he comes along! That can be true for pets as well. Rescues, SPCAs, Humane Societies, and others step forward to lift pets’ spirits, saving their lives from abuse and neglect, and then prepare them for adoption. But, there needs to be more adopters, more heroes and heroines to help the light shine more deeply into the spirits of those animals cast-away, those treated not just poorly, but many times cruelly.
Can you be an animal’s Hallmark Valentine this year?
Five years ago, my husband and I adopted a springer/cocker mix named Mary. She wasn’t abused or neglected; in fact, she was deeply cared for by her previous owner. Sadly, that person died, and Mary needed a new loving family. Greg and I answered the call, and we have been her Valentine ever since! She is devoted to us and she has also impacted others, serving sometimes as a library read-to-the-dog companion, nestled among a group of children and giving them affection as well as courage. Her stories which I’ve written take kids on adventures and teach them lessons like kindness, friendship, and joy. I love sharing Mary with others and teaching them the value of adoption.
Then, there’s Jeremiah, whom we adopted last fall. He came from a puppy mill, serving as a stud for three years. He lost 28 teeth due to poor nutrition and came to us from a rescue still timid and uncertain about living in a house. Now, five months later, he realizes kindness and compassion can come from human beings, and he’s settled in well, with Mary as his best friend. He walks proudly on a leash, dashes through our fenced-in backyard with joy, and cuddles next to me on the couch with thankfulness on his face. His Valentine’s Day gift this year is a warm home and caring people (plus a canine BFF!)
Even if we, as a man or woman, have been rejected by human love, there’s a way to share our love. Numerous animals – dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, and others – are waiting for their special Valentine. Nearly 1.5 million dogs and cats die in kill-shelters every year, and more than 10,000 animal mill facilities confine creatures (especially dogs and cats) simply for the act of breeding. They lack socialization and medical care. Several rescues, such as National Mill Dog Rescue and Hearts United for Animals, take in these animals and care for them while searching for loving, permanent homes for them to call their own, i.e., for their special Valentine.
Find your four-footed Valentine this month, knowing that creature will be devoted to you for its life, and then make some popcorn and sit on the couch together while enjoying some Hallmark movies!
NOTE: The Hallmark Channel features several films in which animals play important roles. Check out titles such as Like Cats and Dogs; Love at First Bark; Walking the Dog; and Eat, Play, Love -- some of these are scheduled this month and others in March. Enjoy, and especially enjoy your furry Valentine!