CHRISTmas is a  time of friends and family…a time of festivity, and also a holy time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  However, for homeless dogs it can be a time of loneliness and fear.  There are needy dogs everywhere, and there are many ways in which you can show kindness to them: 

Your local rescue group or shelter always appreciates volunteers.   Most of them are underfunded and understaffed, and appreciate volunteers.  There are dozens of things you can do, from dog walking to kennel cleaning.   Some shelters have foster programs that encourage volunteers to take a dog into their home for a little special attention.  If you are having a quiet holiday at home, this might be an opportunity to share your love with a dog. Since most groups are limited in the number of dogs they can save because of space limitations, by temporarily offering to care for an animal in your home, you are giving a rescue dog valuable time to find a permanent home.   If you aren’t ready for such a step, contact your local organization to get specific suggestions as to how you can brighten a lonely dog’s life.   Donations are always needed.  Be it money, towels, food, blankets, or equipment, all shelters have needs. Call to see what’s on the group’s wish list.

There are dogs right in your own neighborhood who are not enjoying a good life.  Without being judgmental, perhaps you could suggest ways to make life better.  Some caregivers are simply unaware that their dog needs more attention and care, and sadly some people still believe that dogs should live outside, and they keep their pets tied up so they can’t escape the yard or dig up the lawn.  Chaining is a major problem because the practice is inhumane to the animals, and also creates a safety risk to the community  because the isolation endured by a chained dog can turn an otherwise friendly and happy dog into a neurotic, anxious, aggressive animal.    Perhaps you could volunteer to take the dog to obedience classes if his behavior is the main reason they keep their dog outside.  Make every effort to have a positive impact on your neighborhood by educating people about the dangers of chaining a dog, and if you can’t convince them to find a place indoors, you can at least offer to walk her, or simply spend some time with her.

Companion animals play significant roles in the lives of the people who love them, but sometimes the elderly or ill have trouble providing essential pet care.  If you see a neighbor in need, offer to assist—walk the dog, help with feeding, or grooming , pick up supplies or pet food,  or drive her to the veterinarian.

If you see a dog that is neglected or abused, it is your responsibility to report it to the authorities.  Don’t expect “someone else” to get involved.  YOU need to report it, and then follow up to be sure that appropriate action is taken.  Your action may make the difference between life and death for the dog!

At this wonderful  time of caring and sharing, don’t be too busy to include something for unwanted, unloved animals.  Please do something to make this holiday a little more special for a few lonely, forgotten animals.