Do you know why I love writing these blogs? It’s because I know that I’m speaking, in a very personal way, to people who love dogs every bit as much as I do. I have shared stories with you about friends who have dogs, people I have met in the dog park, and dogs that have personality quirks that amaze and delight. But sometimes…
Well, sometimes I wonder, when I’m writing these blogs, about people who care so much about their canine friends, and about ways to help them give their dogs the best possible care… Sometimes I wonder about dogs who don’t have it so good.
Did you know that there are nearly 4 million dogs in shelters all across the US? I don’t know about you, but I find it almost impossible to believe that there can be that many unwanted dogs. I’d take them all if I could, and I bet you would too.
Of course that’s not possible. But I got to thinking some more, and it occurred to me that we really should do more than just give our own best friends the benefit of our loving hearts. If we can, we should all be donating money to animal shelters. And if we can’t, we should think about other things we could do.
Oh, I just knew you would ask! Well, even if you don’t have money to give, there are other things you can do to help your local animal shelter. Here are some ideas.
Use Your Social Media
“Friend” your local animal shelter. Then share adoption profiles. You might be surprised how many of your friends have been thinking for a long time about adopting a dog, but they haven’t found the one that speaks to their heart. Show them what’s out there. You could help to give a good dog a forever family.
Clean Out Your Closet
Do you really need all those old blankets and sheets that are a bit worn and battered? Treat yourself to a new set, and donate the old ones to your local shelter – they always need bedding.
Donate Your Skills
If you have a knack for graphic design, you could create ads, posters, and other materials for your local shelter. Accountants can donate bookkeeping services. Professional dog trainers can help to get dogs ready for adoption. If you know how to knit, you could make sweaters for dogs to wear in cold weather. Everyone has a skill. Just think about yours, and then consider how it could translate over into helping your local shelter.
Have a Birthday Party at a Shelter
Listen, kids love animals, right? Why not find out if your local animal shelter would let you have a birthday party there. Instead of gifts, everyone could bring a donation – a present for the dogs, like toys, collars, food… and yes, of course, money. Kids will have a blast visiting the animals, and it will mean so much more than a pile of presents and a fast food meal.
Add Your Shelter to Your Wedding Registry
Do you really need a set of spaghetti tongs, or yet another piece in a china pattern that is probably going to become obsolete in a couple of years? Sure, your wedding is about you. But if you’re reading this, I already know that you’re concerned about much more than just YOU. So in lieu of gifts, why not request donations to your local shelter?
Hit Up Your Co-Workers
Okay, we all know that businesses want to look like they’re socially responsible. Usually what they do is shill you at the checkouts for some kids’ charity. Nothing against kids, you understand, but when was the last time your local supermarket asked you for money for an animal charity? You need to fill that gap. Set up a donation jar at work. Maybe find someone who is “crafty” and have him or her make an afghan or a quilt that you can raffle off. Or sell tickets on an even split. Then, donate the proceeds of whatever fund-raising activity you have chosen to the local animal shelter.
Remember the Importance of Play
One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen in an animal shelter is dogs in cages with enough food, enough bedding, good clean water, and… nothing at all to play with. I guess this is inevitably where money is going to come in. Maybe. If you have old toys that you can donate to the shelter, please do so. Dogs need to play. And if you can afford it, why not buy some toys for shelter dogs? It doesn’t have to be all that expensive. In fact, at Amazon right now, you could buy enough toys for twelve shelter dogs when you buy the multi-pack of The Dog’s Balls. It’s twelve – count ’em – super-strong tennis balls that will last just about forever. These are not “human” tennis balls. They are specially made for dogs, out of non-toxic, non-abrasive materials, and they are suitable for dogs of any age – even puppies! The list price is $35.99. Amazon ordinarily sells them for $25.99. But now, they’re just $18.99. If you ordered 3 sets, you’d qualify for free shipping, and provide toys for 36 dogs! I don’t think it gets much better than that.
So, now you know that you don’t have to dig deep into your pockets to help shelter dogs. You can donate services. You can coerce (did I really say that?) other people into giving their money. You can buy stuff if you want, but you don’t have to do that in order to help a shelter dog.
I know that tomorrow, I’m going to head down to my local animal shelter and find out if they need someone to walk dogs or groom them. So, what are you going to do? Who’s with me? You know, if we work together at a local level, we really can make a huge difference to those four million dogs.