It’s No Happy New Year for Many Dogs

Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

If you drive around your neighborhood, you will see many chained up dogs shivering in the cold. Winter weather means extra hardship for ‘backyard” dogs, and, as responsible pet caregivers, we acknowledge that it is inhumane treatment, but we seem to just look the other way and are silent. These dogs suffer from frostbite, exposure, and dehydration, and often have nowhere to go to escape the cold and snow. Why do so many dogs end up at the end of a chain? There are many excuses. Animals are still considered property in the eyes of the law, and some caregivers view their dogs as “possessions” to do with as they please. Others just shrug and say that people have always kept dogs that way. Some simply don’t want the animal in the house and resort to a chain to prevent him from running away. Most have tired of the responsibility of adequately caring for a dog or are not willing to deal with a behavior problem, and have simply relegated him to the outdoors—tied or penned up. There are thousands of chained dogs in this country who exist with deprivation and loneliness. Let’s begin the New Year by breaking our silence about all the chained and penned up dogs. Lori Oswald tells this true story of a backyard dog.

Donovan was not a special dog. He never pulled a child from in front of an oncoming car; he didn’t win a ribbon in a dog show; he was quite an ordinary dog. His owners could be considered quite ordinary too…a nice family with two children, who decided fourteen years earlier to get a dog. A dog would be fun. So one day, perhaps at a shopping center giveaway, or maybe from the pet section of the local ads, they found Donovan, and brought him home. At first the kids were excited, but the newness soon wore off. Dad build a small house and they staked him outside with a chain attached to it, agreeing that he would be “just fine” outside. I never met Donovan. Although I regularly visited his house, I never even knew he existed. He lived 24/7 on a six foot chain, digging holes for entertainment, watching as life passed him by. Mom assured everyone that he was “well cared for.” For 14 years Donovan lived out back on his chain, hungering for a little attention and affection. One day he finally escaped his little world on a chain and holes and dog house—he died. Donovan, unfortunately, is not a fictional character. Neither are his owners. They have been looking around for another dog. “We sure miss Donovan,” they lament.

How many Donovans are in your neighborhood? It’s no Happy New Year for dogs on chains, and it is up to us to break our silence and say “NO! It is not okay to allow dogs to be tethered for extended periods of time.” A dog is a pack animal and needs to be treated as part of the family.

 

A New Year. A Fresh Start

Most of us have made New Year’s lists of good intentions…which we usually quickly forget.   We really do plan to eat healthier, exercise more, and clean out our closets.   Overworked, overstressed, and always in a hurry, we seem to regret the past and worry about the future, rather than savoring the moment.   There is a lesson to be learned from our four-footed friends as legendary Field And Stream writer Gene Hill says in his piece, “Just My Dog”:

He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds.  He has told me a thousand times that I am his reason for being, by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile, by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him.  (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.)  When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive.  When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile.  When I am happy, he is joy unbounded.  When I am a fool, he enjoys it; when I succeed, he brags.  Without him, I am only a man.   With him, I am all-powerful.  He has taught me so much, including the meaning of devotion.  With him, I know a secret comfort and private peace.  He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.  His head on my knee can heal my human hurts.  His presence by my side is protection against my fears.  He has promised to wait for me…whenever…wherever…just in case I need him.  And I expect I will, as I always have.

Here are a few resolutions that would benefit your dog;

*Daily walks are good for both you and your dog.  Don’t walk the same path every day; canines need to smell  new scents, mark their territory, and discover new things.  It also gives you the opportunity to clear your own head, and forget your schedule, your cell phones and all the activities of the day.   Focus on the moment.

*Many dogs need a professional groomer’s touch once in a while, but you can certainly do regular brushing and maintenance.   If your dog smells bad, it’s time for a bath.  Hopefully you have access to a deep sink, or even a tub, and a place to keep shampoos, conditioners, combs clippers, and towels.

*A scrambled egg is a healthy addition to your pet’s diet…raw carrots are always a good treat.  Forget the unhealthy, commercial treats.  Here’s an easy-to-make recipe for homemade biscuits:

Mix 1 egg,  ½ cup of water, 2 ½ cups flour, ½ cup non-fat dry milk powder, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 5 tablespoons of margarine.  Knead the mixture until the dough forms a ball.  Pinch off small pieces, and place on lightly greased cookie sheet.   Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Dogs love to be included as family, as Donna Hughes explains:

You’re going to the mailbox to drop some letters there……It won’t take long; it’s no big deal.

                Hey, I know—I’ll come too.

                You’re filling up the feeders for the birds in the yard; you don’t need help…it isn’t hard,

                But why don’t I come too?

                You’re driving to Gramma’s house for New Year’s Day…the roads are jammed; the traffic crazy.

                Don’t worry…I’ll come too.

                Your cold is getting worse, and you are sneezing up a storm…

                That cough is bad; you need some rest….to bed now; I’ll come too.

Another quote by Gene Hill:  No one can fully understand the meaning of love unless he is owned by a dog!    A dog can show you more honest affection with a flick of his tail  than a man can gather through a lifetime of handshakes.

Let’s resolve to make this the very best year ever, filled with peace, love, and joy for both the four-footed and two-footed.

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

I’ll Always Be With You

I’LL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU.

Hopefully, all of you dog lovers are also friends with Winnie the Pooh …

not a dog but with the same endearing characteristics of dogs.

“Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too” is truly a golden oldie…

a 1991 Christmas television special based on the Disney television series,

and TV Guide ranked the special number 6 on its l0 Best Family Holiday Specials list.

Two days before Christmas, Christopher Robin writes a letter to Santa Claus

, asking for a few presents, and sends the letter off into the wind, but on Christmas Eve,

since Winnie the Pooh did not ask for anything for himself, they retrieve the letter,

and rewrite it to include Pooh’s present, a pot of honey.

They cast the letter intothe wind again, but the wind shifts,

and they are afraid that Santa will never receive the letter.

Pooh decides that they must take things into their own hands

to make sure gifts are delivered.

Pooh sneaks out and delivers Tigger, Rabbit, and Eeyore

a super-bouncer barrel, a bug sprayer, and a mobile home, respectively,

or rather handmade versions of the said items that break apart upon use.

Pooh finally decides to try to deliver the letter to Santa himself,

telling the gang that it would be worth missing Christmas

if he could “bring Christmas” to them. He does not get far, though

, as the wind suddenly takes the letter, so he gives up. At the Christmas tree,

Pooh’s friends bemoan that spending time with him at Christmas

is more important than getting any gifts, just as Pooh reunites with them.

Christopher Robin shows up on his new sled and brings them all the gifts

they had originally asked for. They celebrate together.

One of my very favorite Pooh quotes is “If there is ever a tomorrow

when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember….

you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem,

and smarter than you think….but the most important thing is,

even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.”

 

Old Jake’s Christmas Wish

With Christmas coming, it is a very common request for a child or even teen to request a “puppy” for a gift, but are you ready for life after the puppy stages? The average dog lives for a dozen years…are you ready to commit for twelve years?. Will you have a child and still have enough time to care for your dog and the baby? Will you be moving in the next 12 years. Will your next home be pet friendly?. These are just a few questions you need to consider before you decide to adopt a super sweet, totally dependent, puppy as a Christmas gift. When you get a puppy, it will pee and poop in the house. They will chew toys, carpet, anything around because they are not trained. Would you bring a newborn baby home and get angry when he has accidents? You have to expect accidents with a puppy. They cannot train themselves.. training is your responsibility. The arrival of a dog changes a household considerably…for years. Someone has to be responsible for their daily needs—feeding, exercise, health care, grooming. The decision should be thought about, talked about and negotiated, and a new dog doesn’t necessarily have to be a puppy. There are many older dogs who would make wonderful companions. Old dogs like Jake have a special sort of dignity and charm all their own, if only they are given a chance.

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the pound

Not a creature was stirring, except one lonely old hound.

His dim eyes could see the shelter was decorated in holiday trim

And poor old Jake kept waiting for a visit from Him.

All of his friends had found a new home,

Except for old Jake, all cold and alone.

But Jake knew it was Christmas, the gift-giving season;

He hoped his friends were placed for the appropriate reason.

He had seen it before, the holiday gift…

A new dog at Christmas….gave everyone a life.

But a dog isn’t a gift; it’s a lifetime commitment..

The dog that on Christmas who brought so much joy,

Ends up tossed aside, like an old worn-out toy.

The dog becomes a problem; they don’t want it around,

And often the Christmas pup ends up back in the pound.

The night grew colder, and no one came.

Who would want an old dog, all crippled and lame?.

So Jake closed his eyes and drifted to sleep

It was a good nap, all peaceful and deep.

Jake didn’t wake up that Christmas Eve night,

But he had found his new home…everything was right.

He was in his eternal home, where he was loved, he knew.

Old Jake’s Christmas wish had finally come true.

 

IF YOU CAN’T COMMIT, PLEASE DON’T GET A DOG!

Holiday Traditions Pose Hazards for Our Dogs

Many of our holiday traditions can pose serious threats to the well-being of our pets. As you begin to prepare for the festive season, be aware of activities that can be potentially dangerous to our four-footed friends.

‘Tis definitely the season for overeating, but it is important to keep your dog on a normal diet. Don’t give your pets holiday leftovers, and keep them out of the garbage. Poultry bones can splinter and cause blockages, and greasy, spicy and fatty foods can give your dog indigestion and diarrhea.

If you serve adult holiday beverages, be sure that alcoholic drinks are always out of reach of curious paws. If ingested, your dog can suffer severe damage, and possibly go into a coma, resulting in death from respiratory failure.

Be careful with holiday floral arrangements. Lilies can cause serious digestive problems, and common Yuletide plants such as mistletoe and holly berries can be potentially toxic. Should a dog (or cat) eat mistletoe, there is a strong likelihood that he will suffer gastrointestinal upset. Holly can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy if ingested.

Traditional tree decorations such as ribbons or tinsel, if ingested, can become lodged in the intestines and cause an obstruction. Take care to prevent your pets from having access to glass ornaments, wires, and cords from holiday decorations. Keep fragile ornaments toward the top if the tree, because, If chewed, such ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth from shards of glass or plastic, while a wire can deliver a potentially fatal electrical shock.

Several popular holiday treats are toxic to dogs. Many candies and other desserts contain the sweetener xylitol which is poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause abnormal heart rate/rhythm, and even seizures. Be sure to dispose of candy wrappers carefully, because ingesting aluminum foil or cellophane can pose a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage.

Be sure to cover the Christmas tree water. Stagnant tree water can act as a breeding ground for bacteria, and if ingested, a pet could end up with abdominal discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Remember that a dog will quickly know if a gift contains something edible, even if the humans don’t. Ask your guests in advance if there is food inside the presents, and keep them out of paws’ reach.

PLEASE do not even consider giving a puppy as a holiday gift. Usually giving a puppy for emotional reasons turns out badly. Love is not the problem because everyone loves a puppy, but people need to have some basic knowledge about the commitment and responsibility of caring for a pet. Accept the same philosophy as adopting a child. You don’t just give a kid away. Everyone must understand the responsibility of caring for a child, and the same holds true with a dog. A dog is not for Christmas; it is for life, and the holiday season is a busy time. We have all seen the ads depicting adorable puppies with red bows…Adorable? Absolutely. But in real life the holidays are not a great time to introduce a new puppy into the family.

The first few days with a pup are important, and it’s difficult to give a new dog the attention she deserves when everyone’s focus is on the big holiday. Puppies need lots of help at first to understand rules, and in a busy home, visitors are coming and going and doors opened to welcome guests make it easy for a pup to slip out unnoticed.

If you decide to give your family a puppy, please don’t take her home amidst the holiday excitement. Instead, wrap up a collar, dog dish, some puppy toys, and maybe a photo of the pup, and put those under the tree. Then wait until the festivities are over to actually bring the new puppy into your home. This accomplishes the puppy surprise, but allows time to make your home puppy safe, and give your new pup the attention she’ll need to adjust. Most of all, be committed to a LIFE LONG relationship

No Holiday Puppies

Surprising your family or friend with an adorable puppy for Christmas may seem like a perfect gift, but is it really? NO. animals should never be given as impulsive gifts, and the holidays are probably the worst time to bring a dog into your home and life. New puppies and dogs require extra attention and a stable environment which the holiday season does not allow caring for a dog’s round-the -clock care.

A dog is not a toy that can be returned or discarded, and the result of making the wrong choice when selecting a living being as a gift is often tragic. No matter how much you think your loved one would enjoy this “surprise”, you should never presume to make this decision for another person.. A dog is another family member and requires a lifelong commitment, so lifestyle, time, and financial resources are important considerations.

Most professional organizations recommend you give a “puppy gift package” instead of a live pup with a gift certificate entitling the recipient to a “dog of your choice”, a crate, gift certificates for a vet check up or dog toys, bowls, leash, books about dog care, or puppy socialization classes—be creative and have fun. Then if you discover on Christmas morning that the idea of the responsibility for a dog is definitely not wanted, all the items can be returned or donated to a local shelter or rescue group.

The new caregiver must be ready to make a commitment for the animal’s entire lifetime, and be prepared to accept the responsibilities that come with their new family member. Pets are forever and it is important to understand that dogs take time and commitment as shown in this Pet Promise:

  • I will never overlook my responsibilities for this living being and recognize that my dog’s well-being is totally dependent on me.
  • I will ensure that my dog has current identification, including collar tags, and tattoo or microchip ID.
  • I will always provide fresh water and good quality food for him.
  • I will socialize my dog by exposing her to new people, places, and other dogs.
  • I will be responsible to keep him clean and well groomed.
  • I will teach him basic training rules, including sit, stay, and come when called.
  • I will take her to the vet for all needed vaccinations, and regular dental checks. I will regularly do home all-body checks, looking for any bumps or lumps, or changes in either physical appearance or behavior.
  • I will provide both adequate physical exercise and mental stimulation.
  • In good times and bad, in sickness and health, I accept the responsibility and privilege to care for him, and spend time with him.

A dog is a “forever” dog, not an “until you get bored with me” not until circumstances change, you have a baby, you have to move, or you have no time, A dog is forever….if you can’t promise forever, don’t get a dog.

 

The Season for Caring and Sharing

‘Tis the season for caring and sharing, with the holiday season definitely in full swing, which means an over abundance of rich foods, many of which are not healthy for our four-legged friends …..actually many of them are not healthy for two-legs either, but we won’t dwell on that (or the fact that we stuffed ourselves at Thanksgiving)!

Holiday staples that are hazardous to pets include your turkey, which is usually basted in tasty herbs and spices that would likely upset her stomach. The fatty skin, and added salty brine isn’t good for her. Resist her begging looks and don’t share more than a small, (very small), bit of turkey breast, or you risk causing a life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas which requires immediate medical attention. .

When the turkey is gone, the bones that remain are NOT good chew toys ….they are brittle choking hazards that usually splinter if chewed. Be mindful of any bones on the table, kitchen counter, or trash, so your inquisitive pooch doesn’t make himself a bone buffet.

What do you put in your stuffing? This is a dish that usually includes some onions, mushrooms, garlic, and butter, none of which your dog should have. And then there’s the gravy, often loaded with garlic, onions, spices and herbs that are not safe for dogs. Since garlic is a member of the onion family (as far as dogs are concerned), garlic bread is also a no-no for them Sausage also contains onions, garlic, and other spices harmful to a dog’s health.

Raisins should never be given as a treat, and fruit with seeds or pits should be avoided, because they inflame the intestines. No plums, peaches, or grapes either!

If you bake for the holidays, it is important to NOT leave yeast dough on the counter unattended. Dogs will eat anything, and if yeast dough sits in his stomach, it can expand due to the warm, moist environment which can cause stomach upset, bloat, and twisting of the stomach. Yeast dough which ferments in the stomach can morph into alcohol and carbon dioxide which can become toxic very quickly as it is rapidly absorbed into the dog’s G.I. tract.

Most cooks know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but dogs are curious creatures, and can often snag a chuck of chocolate off the table or counter. Theobromine and caffeine are two components in chocolate that stimulate the nervous system and cause severe symptoms.

Xylitol is a popular sugar substitute used in a ton of products, including baked goods, some peanut butters, gums, mints, chewable vitamins Life threatening conditions can result when ingested by dogs,

Both pumpkin and sweet potatoes are good for dogs, but at the holiday season, many people add cinnamon and nutmeg to their pumpkin or sweet potato dishes. Not good for the dogs!

Dogs shouldn’t be eating desert anyway, but some are worse than others. Pecan pie contains nuts which can cause muscle spasms and weakness of the legs, and is also loaded with sugar, nutmeg, and other not-so-dog friendly ingredients. (Nutmeg is added to many holiday desserts and is toxic to our canine companions.) Walnuts and macadamia nuts should be kept out of paw’s reach..

You certainly don’t intend to feed your dog rotted, moldy food, but trashcans are treasure cans for canines. Your overflowing trashcan can contain moldy foods that produce harmful mycotoxins, which can do serious damage to your dog’s health.

If you serve alcoholic beverages, keep them away from your dog. Accidental ingestion can cause severe coma, slowed respiration, and a life-threateningly low blood sugar in your dog.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested something poisonous, contact your veterinarian right away, but prevention is a better solution. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!!!

Thanksgiving 2018 – Give Thanks!

Time speeds by at an alarming pace, and it is easy to focus on what we don’t have, rather than what we do have, leaving us wishing for what is not in our lives instead of valuing what is. Back in the ‘old days’, a popular song put it this way: “accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative; latch on to the affirmative; don’t mess with Mr. In-between.” Good advice then. Good advice now. Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for our faith, our family, and our friends, both two-legged and four legged. We are truly blessed and are reminded that, although most of us have much, there are those who have little, and it is our responsibility to help, by both word and deed, those who lack many things which we take for granted. It is also a good time to pause and reflect on the role that companion animals play in our lives…their total loyalty, their cheerful spirits, and their unconditional love are priceless gifts.

Pastor Mark Wessels offers this special Thanksgiving prayer:

Lord, don’t let me ever forget how much I need my trusty dog…Help me to disregard the canine craters in my yard. Show me how to be cheerful even when the place is muddy. Don’t allow my dog to munch delivery men for lunch. Help me not to scowl or shout when my pup decides to howl. Grant me peace, not fear, when I feel a cold nose in my ear. Give me patience without end and help me be my dog’s best friend. Remind me that I am blessed to have her to cuddle and enjoy…..keep me thankful both today and all year long. 

Rescued dogs everywhere celebrate, knowing that they will never experience the loneliness that they hear in the barks of dogs still “out there” shivering in the cold and afraid. They know that whatever happens, they have humans who will be there for them. They will be taught the things they need to know to be loved by others. They will never be cast out because they are too old, too ill, too rowdy, or just not cute enough. If ill, they will receive medical treatment; if scared, they will be comforted; if sad, they will be cheered. They know that they have loving, forever homes. They are thankful! There are many, many needy dogs who still need forever homes, and they too would be filled with gratitude if you opened your heart and home for one!

“The year has turned full circle; the seasons come and go. The harvest is gathered in, and the north winds will blow. As we pause to count our blessings we realize that we are blessed. We count our gains, instead of losses; our joys instead of woes. We count our friends instead of foes; count our smiles instead of tears. We hug our family friends, both human and canine, and know that we are truly blessed”

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. If we find a way to be thankful for our troubles, they can often become our blessings. An old saying admonishes us to “rise up and be thankful…if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little; and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick; and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so let us all be thankful!” Rather than complain, let’s be thankful!

Summer Has Collapsed Into Fall

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” This quote by Oscar Wilde has certainly proven true out here on the Iowa prairie, and we are all suddenly thinking about winterizing our homes and cars, and making cold-weather-plans for our four-footed friends. It may be true that some breeds tolerate the cold better than others, but few dogs do well left outside for extended periods of time in cold, damp weather.

We discourage caregivers from keeping dogs outside all of the time in any weather, but the risk is certainly worse when the temperatures drop below the freezing mark. And remember that temperature is not the only factor to consider; wind chill makes conditions even more dangerous for animals.

If, for some reason, you do not want your dog in the main part of your home, surely there is a heated porch, an entryway, or even a corner in the garage that could be made into a cozy spot for her. If you accepted the responsibility of caring for an animal, you must also recognize the importance of finding a warm, comfortable place for her to stay. If she has behavioral issues, the solution is not to banish her to the back yard, but to spend the necessary time to train her. Dogs are smart and eager to comply to human rules, but they must be taught what the rules are.

Perhaps one of the most important considerations to prepare your pet for winter is nutrition. A high quality nutritionally balanced diet is essential. To find out how different foods rate, you can go to www.dogfoodadvisor.com which rates all of the major dog foods. Check out the food you are currently using—you may be surprised at what you find. All dog foods are not created equal and with all the clever marketing techniques used, it is difficult to sort out what is good and what is simply advertising hype.

Every year dogs die from ingesting traditional ethylene glycol-based antifreeze. It smells and tastes good to them, but it is very toxic. Never keep antifreeze where curious dogs (or children) can reach it, and remember that antifreeze sometimes collects on driveways and roadways. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, at least 10,000 dogs drink antifreeze every year because of the pleasant sweet taste. It takes only a small amount of traditional antifreeze to cause serious problems to the dog’s kidneys, and most dogs who drink it will die.

With winter just around the corner, don’t think that the fleas have all gone south. Most of us don’t associate fleas with dropping temperatures, but the fact is that fleas are more prevalent now than at any other time of the year. Throughout the summer, flea populations have increased and are peaking in the fall. They are also seeking out warm bodies and other warm places to feed and exist, so it is important to continue using flea preventatives well into the winter. A little extra prevention is better than having to deal with a flea infestation.

The use of rodenticides increases in the fall as rodents seek shelter from the cooler outdoor temperatures by attempting to move indoors. Rodenticides are highly toxic to pets, so if you use these products, be careful to put them in places inaccessible to your pets.

Don’t use cooler weather as an excuse to skip walking the dog…an exercise-deprived can get a serious case of cabin fever, which often leads to frustration-induced behaviors such as destructiveness and hyperactivity.

We are surrounded by potential dangers for our four-footed friends, but with a few extra precautions, you can keep your pet safe and healthy during these crisp, cool autumn months.

Needy Dogs are All Around Us

I seldom repeat a column, but this is such a current problem, by request, I am sharing it again (originally published in 2012).

 

NEEDY DOGS ARE ALL AROUND US

As Iowa weather grows colder, I would like to share an observation by Cherine Bissinger:

“As the weather turns nasty, I cannot suppress my deep feelings of desperation for the countless animals forced to endure a torturous existence with owners who willfully neglect or casually ignore the basic needs of their four-footed companions. Every day I am surrounded by humans who never extend an act of kindness toward voiceless, living creatures. Driving to work, I am horrified by the sight of helpless animals without any visible shelter. ‘What is the matter with us?’ I think to myself. ‘How can we allow such suffering?’ As I drive into town I see total disregard for decency and blatant lack of compassion for animal welfare, and as I park my car at work, my attention is drawn to the sight of a dog wagging his tail. The sun has barely risen, and the home where the dog is tied is dark. Apparently this innocent dog has spent the night outside in the blustery wind and cold, while his humans slept contentedly indoors, apparently oblivious of the painful effects of such inhumanity. I walk toward the dog, and he jumps up as much as the length of his chain will permit. He is shivering wildly, and I whisper words of comfort to the dog. I tell him how sorry I am for his predicament, and regretfully turn to walk into my workplace. Each step I take away from the dog, I imagine his desolate look of devastation for having been forgotten and ignored. I think of the thousands of animals suffering in silence. Life is unjust, and like the neglected animals, I feel helpless. When will things change? Feeble anti-cruelty laws, little enforcement of existing laws, and most of all public apathy are overwhelming. What has happened to us as human beings that we can ignore the plight of so many animals?”

We are all aware of dogs in our own neighborhoods who are not enjoying a good life. Maybe their caregivers don’t even realize that their dog is suffering. Without being judgmental, perhaps you could suggest ways to make life better. If you feel the dog is in danger, report it to the authorities, and follow up to be sure that appropriate action is taken. Each of us has a circle of compassion: the people and animals and things that we care about, that emotionally affect us. It may be our own family, our own friends, and our own pets, but not the family, friends, or pets belonging to others. It may be those just in our own comfort zone. Essentially, we all need the same things as the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion: compassion, intelligence, and the courage to make the world a better place for both humans and animals. May we all strive to expand our circle of compassion.

 

 A PRAYER FOR THE ANIMALS

by Albert Schweitzer

 Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends, the animals,

 Especially for those who are suffering;

For any that are lost or deserted, or frightened, or hungry.

We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity,

And for those who deal with them, we ask hearts of compassion,

And gentle hands and kindly words.

Help us to be true friends to the animals,

And so to share the blessings of the merciful.