Posts Tagged ‘animal shelter’

Comfort and Joy for the Fourth of July

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If you have pets or have ever lived with household animals, you already know the terror that neighborhood fireworks instill in the hearts of dogs and cats. With no way for us to explain our pyrotechnic traditions, and their heightened, excellent hearing, how could they imagine anything other than the end of the world? It is the number one day for runaways, and breaking down fences and leaping over gates that the rest of the year prove secure borders is not uncommon.

Think, now, of the huge numbers of dogs and cats in animal shelters around the country. Most don’t have overnight staff. Come the night of July Fourth, explosions rock the neighborhoods where they are kenneled, already stressed out by the living conditions, and you’ve got a recipe for true misery.

If you’ve got the night off and don’t have plans to be at someone’s barbecue, or spreading your picnic blanket on the golf course to watch fireworks…if you are more likely to be home…AND you don’t have your own animals that you have to comfort as they quake, consider volunteering at your local animal shelter to comfort some pups. Several facilities have programs for this particular night, “Calm the Canines” initiatives just for the peak hours of most municipal fireworks shows (dusk until 10:00pm or so). Check with your local shelter. (Try an internet search for “Fourth of July Animal Shelter Volunteer” or “Volunteer with dogs July 4” or similar–loads of results will pop up)

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They might be playing soft music, volunteers may be talking and cooing, sitting on the floor, reading softly, distracting animals with special treats, and giving tons fo pets and cuddles. Some shelters will even have programs set up for one-night fostering of a dog, taking it asa guest pet to your own home to calm and comfort it during this night of decibels and terror.

Of course, if you fall in love with the adoptable pet you’ve been petting through its panic–all the better–adopting a rescue is a brilliant outcome! Another win/win situation is if you come away from your one-night volunteer gig impressed enough to offer volunteer help other times throughout the year. The animals need you.

Project Unleashed—Saving Lives Two at a Time

I get so giddy and excited as I learn more and more about friends and friends-of-friends who are working with and initiating amaaaaaazing projects and volunteer opportunities. One of these, which makes me smile down to my toes, is Project Unleashed, an organization that pairs at-risk youth with rescued dogs from shelters (most are pit bulls since their adoption probability is so miniscule…in Los Angeles shelters, 838 pit bulls are brought into shelters every week, and for 836 of them, that is the last stop–they do not get adopted and are euthanized. Staggering!) . The results are shifted perspectives, empowerment, a new choice of non-violence, self discovery and respect, and greater sense of responsibility toward society. When you take on the commitment to heal and love another being, you discover the capacity for love in yourself. Any of you that have dogs in your family know the wisdom in their souls when you look into their eyes. Inherent wisdom like that is contagious–and we are susceptible. I hope you’ll watch this video and think about supporting Project Unleashed–it truly is making a difference and saving lives, both canine and human.

Shelter Dogs

This video is certainly manipulative and tugs at the heartstrings, but twanging heartstrings is my theme these days. Yesterday marked the six month mark since we adopted our shelter dog, Cooper. I can’t imagine a time when he wasn’t in our lives, and want to again, at the risk of boring everyone, encourage those looking for a pet to go to a shelter and NOT a store. Pet shops are never a good bet for finding family members. Food, yes. Collars and bowls and Kong balls and shampoo, sure, but rescue rescue rescue. You won’t regret it.

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It wasn’t too long ago that I blogged about Black Dogs and how difficult they are to place for adoption from shelters. Without 100% clarity, theories tend to suggest it is because some people have a sense of distrust that they can not be seen at night (a weird thought, but OK) and more plausible, perhaps, is that they don’t photograph well on animal adoption websites. A big dark blob won’t make you pack up the kids to go look at a potential new family member the same way an adorable beagle or golden lab might.

This weekend, we went and adopted our own magnificent Black Dog from the amazing volunteers at the Danbury Animal Welfare Society. DAWS is a non-profit (they could sure use your support/donations–easy to do at the link here), no kill shelter, and is truly run by the most loving, caring volunteers. They made every individual and family member who came over the weekend (and it was super busy–the first spring-like weekend of the year with warm weather and sunshine) feel that among the busy buzz, they were important and maybe the perfect home for one of their adult dogs or puppies.

Our boy, Cooper, is a 2-year-old lab/shepherd…and Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Scooby Doo, and Snoopy combined ain’t got nothing on him. He is brilliant, and has found his last, forever home…and has truly honored us by being part of our pack.

I promise you there is a shelter near you that needs volunteer help. It is unheard of to have too many volunteers and regulars tend to be spread awfully thin. Wouldn’t it be a brilliant way to spend a morning or afternoon, bringing families together?