Giving To Pets

Just ten more shopping days until Christmas.

No doubt you’ve read article after article about gift ideas for your pet. No doubt you’ll see more before December 25th arrives.

Beautiful lights help to bring joy at Christmastime.
Beautiful lights help to bring joy at Christmastime.

At the risk of seeming selfish, I’m going to ask you to get an appropriate gift for your pet, but also one for your veterinarian. The latter will cost you almost nothing.

The best way to get a gift your pet’s doctor will appreciate is to do something nice for pets, whether it’s yours or someone else’s. You see, veterinarians dedicate their lives to animal health and welfare. It does our hearts good when we see someone doing the same. And, can’t we all use healthier, happier hearts these days?

Here’s a suggestion that will allow you to help a lot of animals at one time: Volunteer at a local shelter. There’s cleanup to be done. There are grants to write. There are animals to be walked and bathed and petted and fed and groomed. There are phones to be answered. If the shelter has a spay/neuter facility there may be tasks ranging from medical assistance to record-keeping that you could help with.

The point is, when you volunteer at a humane shelter, you may elect to work with animals, or you may elect to help animals without ever seeing or touching one. I’ve never visited a shelter that had more money than it needed, and I’ve never seen a shelter operate well without a substantial volunteer force. Your time, no matter how much, can make a difference.

Much can be done for animal welfare outside the humane shelter setting. While we don’t like to think sad thoughts around holiday time, the fact remains that pet overpopulation in this country is at epidemic proportions. The reason is simple: More dogs and cats are born every day than there are homes to care for them. If more dogs and cats were altered, the epidemic could be stemmed.

“So,” you say, “what can I do? I’m not a veterinary surgeon.”

But the first step starts with you. Are your own pets spayed or neutered? If yes, you know why, and you can go on the “Spay/Neuter Roadshow” to tell more people why theirs should be. The venues are limitless, but places to get the word out effectively include local morning talk TV, local talk radio, civic groups such as Rotary and Civitan, as well as area schools.

My own belief is that schools are the place to best spend your time. Young minds are open to new ideas, to concepts that include caring. If parents were brought up to believe that dogs and cats should be allowed to breed “naturally”, you may have a difficult time convincing them otherwise. Children, in contrast, don’t yet have preconceived notions, and they can sometimes be potent convincers of parents.

I had a wonderful gift from a client a couple of weeks ago. I suppose you’d call it a Thanksgiving present instead of a Christmas gift. It was Wednesday evening about closing time, and as our last client was finishing up the door opened and in walked Lily. Her owner held a happy, drooling, pulling Lily in one hand and a foil-wrapped package in the other. Frankly, at the end of a long day my first thought was whether I’d be delayed getting home. But the smile on Miss Laurie’s face implied that all was well.

“We’re leaving on our trip for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I couldn’t leave without bringing you these brownies and telling you how happy we are that Lily likes you so much.” If you’d like to make your veterinarian very happy this Christmas, stop in for a visit like that.

Brownies optional.

You may be sure that I went home with a big smile on my face that night.

Ok, and a few brown crumbs, too.

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