A new year is here.  It is like a book… its pages are blank, and we are given the privilege of filling the pages. The book is called Opportunity, and its first chapter is BEGINNING.  Oprah Winfrey explains it this way: “We bid a fond farewell to the old, cherishing the memories that we hold, and anticipating the things that are yet to come. Cheers to the New Year and another chance for us to get it right,” Her words ring true in 2014. This year gives us 12 months…52 weeks…365 days…8760 hours…52600 minutes to open our arms and hearts to the possibilities of new beginnings. Many of us involved in the welfare of companion animals feel frustrated at the inadequate attention given to the problems of overpopulation, neglect and abuse, and are resolved to step out of our comfort zones, and commit to doing more!

We can make a difference, but only if we seriously determine to follow through with our intentions.  Yes, I know that most New Year’s resolutions are broken within a few months, but I challenge you to keep this commitment for the entire year.  Make your own OPPORTUNITY book…doesn’t have to be fancy…an inexpensive notebook will be great…Put your journal-book in a spot where you will see it often, and make it a fun project for the entire family.  Each time a family member does something for the animals, jot it down in your BEGINNING chapter!   The truth is that no matter how little time, money or experience you have, it is possible to create a brighter future for needy animals. MAKE A DIFFERENCE!  Aren’t sure where to begin? Here are two specific suggestions:

Local shelters rarely have enough volunteers for walking, socializing and providing basic training for shelter dogs. Don’t use the excuse that your life is too hectic to dedicate time regularly, there are many other ways to help dogs. Monetary donations are always needed, but donations of  dog beds, towels, cleaning supplies, and toys are welcome…just call your local shelter and find out what is needed, and throw a party, requesting your guests bring those items in lieu of gifts. Or place a container in the entry or closet, and when you buy groceries, include a couple items for the dogs…when the container is full, give it to a needy neighborhood dog, or the local shelter.  (Invite your friends to add to the box!)

Familiarize yourself with local and state ordinances or legislation pertaining to companion animal welfare.  Our state now has an active organization of Iowans from every walk of life that is concerned about the care of companion animals. Iowa Voters for Companion Animals’ mission is to ensure the humane and responsible treatment of companion animals through education and grassroots advocacy.  This group informs the public as to what is going on…and not going on… in the Iowa Legislature, and to the plight of many of Iowa’s companion animals. To get information about this group, go to www.iowaVCA.org. Hopefully you will add your name to their membership!

 I looked at all the needy animals, the cast offs of human society.

I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal.

And I was angry.

“God,” I said, “This is terrible. Why don’t you do something?”

God was silent for a moment, and then He spoke softly.

“I have done something,” He replied.

I created you.”

Jim Willis