This year has been a tough time, but lashing out, turning on our friends, hating others, or doing acts that are just plain mean are unacceptable, so let’s spread kindness….to two legged and four legged! We are blessed to live in the best country in the world! Americans will never agree on everything, or completely understand why some people have some points of view, but hateful and cruel acts are never productive, while kindness is always fashionable, and an act of kindness, no matter how small, is never wasted. From our economic crisis to our political chaos, the concept of making a difference can get lost in the enormity of it all, but the reality is that those who focus on reducing suffering and making individual communities better places to live are happier than those who spew discord and discontent. According to Steven Rowley, “Dogs can help to ground us and guide us to act in kindness rather than hatred. Dogs live in the present; dogs don’t hold grudges…. and dogs let go of all their anger daily, hourly, and never let it fester. They absolve and forgive with each passing minute. Every turn of a corner is the opportunity for a clean slate. Every bounce of a ball brings joy and the promise of a fresh chase. Perhaps if humans learned these lessons, lives would be enriched.” Dogs offer so much, asking so little in return, and by offering our time or money—or just sharing our love of animals—we can improve our world and make life better for both humans and animals. . We’ll feel better about ourselves too, and that’s a great deal.

Specific ways to get involved in the animal welfare cause include:

  • Promote spaying and neutering. Millions of adoptable dogs are euthanized every year, and by spaying and neutering your animals, you will make sure that you are not contributing to the already overpopulation problem.
  • Become involved in legislation to better the lives of our dogs. Help fight for the passage of strong anti-cruelty laws, and for the abolishment of puppy mills. Puppy mills need to be put out of business for good, and we need to complain enough and often until our message is taken seriously.
  • Schedule regular visits to your area shelter to socialize dogs to get them ready for adoption. Just by playing fetch and giving individual attention is a great way to help. Shelter dogs always appreciate a little walk!
  • If you can’t donate your time, you probably have plenty of useful supplies lying around. Contact your local shelter for specific needs. Blankets you may not need can still be used to keep pets warm and comfortable. Those squeaky toys, balls, and stuffed animals your kids no longer play with may provide entertainment for lonely dogs.
  • Volunteer your specialized skills or talents. If you have expertise in web design, grant writing, carpentry, or other areas, a shelter will certainly welcome your sharing it.
  • If you are planning a school, office or special occasion party, consider a dog drive. Each guest can bring pet food, toys, bedding, etc. to your party, all destined for the local shelter. In lieu of gift exchanges, consider donations in the name of your office or social group to your local animal welfare organization. Hold a community yard/bake sale and donate the proceeds to a shelter.
  • Companion animals play important roles in the loves of their caregivers, but sometimes the elderly or ill have trouble providing essential pet care. If you have a neighbor or friend in need, offer to assist by walking the dog, feeding him, driving him to the veterinarian, etc. These small acts of kindness will be appreciated.
  • You may not be able to end pet overpopulation or stop animal neglect, but every act of kindness will help reach those goals. Kindness always makes a difference—blessing the one who receives it, and blessing the giver. Everyone, human or canine, deserves to be treated with respect and kindness….period…no exceptions. Kindness is always fashionable and always appreciated

You can do something big or you can do something small, but whatever you do in kindness is better than doing nothing at all.