When I was young someone gave me a book called the Night Before Dog-mas. It’s a small book that you would find in a stocking hanging over the fireplace. Copying the theme of T’was the Night Before Christmas, the poem tells the story of an animal shelter filled with dogs dreaming of a new home for the holidays, a home where they could romp and play. It ends with St. Bernard (get it?) who comes to the shelter with new leashes and toys and, ultimately, opens up the door where there are children waiting to bring all the animals home, emptying the shelter. I loved this little book then, and reading it is still a tradition in my home today.
A recent conversation with my nine-year-old about this beautiful story brought to light why I like it so much. It stimulates great dialogue about homeless animals. It starts discussions around intense topics like pet overpopulation and why animals end up at an animal shelter in the first place. The lightbulb went off when he asked, “But mom, can’t we do something to help, like St. Bernard did?” I clearly agreed with my son that something had to be done. We spent the rest of the evening brainstorming ideas to help.
My son is involved in Kids for Animals, a program at the Pasadena Humane Society that allows kids and young adults 18 and under to help the animals in our community. He recently spent some time making blankets for cats because he believes every animal deserves comfort and safety, just like our cat. Every year when we read this book, it reminds us that there are so many animals that need support and that even a blanket can go a long way to make a difference. Everyone, from young to old, can have a positive impact on the lives of animals during the holidays. I encourage you to have conversations with your classroom or family and to get creative.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Adopt a pet during the holidays – Thousands of animals find themselves homeless at animal shelters. Consider opening up your heart and home and adopting one. But remember, adopting an animal is a long term commitment and should not be impulsive. Instead of getting someone a new pet as a gift, consider offering to pay for an adoption. That way, the person can select the animal that matches them best. You can find these gift certificates at our Shelter Shop.
- Donate in lieu of a gift – Do they really need another (fill in the blank)? How about giving a donation to an animal organization in the name of a loved one instead? Supporting an animal goes a long way toward feeding the heart of the gift recipient.
- Volunteer as a family – What better way to spend time as a family than by volunteering together? This teaches your children the importance of service to the community, but also reminds you to turn off those cell-phones and spend time together. One way to volunteer is by fostering – getting an animal out of the shelter, showing him love and support, and then finding him a great new family.
- Happy Pawlidays Drive – In-kind donations are as important as financial gifts to animal organizations. You can participate in our Happy Pawlidays Drive by donating items off our wish list at pasadenahumane.org/wishlist.
- Give our Dogs a Treat – We are collecting bully sticks at our Shelter Shop until the first of January. You can buy a chew treat for as low as $2.50 to make the holiday merry and bright for our shelter dogs. They will be passed out on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, so that the dogs can have a holiday “meal” just like us.
- Spend time with YOUR fur baby during the holiday season – Never forget that your pet is an important part of your family, too. Make a resolution during the holidays to spend more time and energy on him or her. Take your dog for an extra walk. Have you remembered to take them to the veterinarian for vaccinations? Buy them a sweater to wear when it gets cold. Give your cat his or her own stocking filled with goodies. Or, just give them an extra pat on the head!
The holidays bring us jingle bells, tinsel, lights and Santa Claus, all things that represent the joy and happiness of the holiday season. You can bring joy to the lives of homeless animals by showing your support. Adopt, donate, volunteer, and be responsible! For more information on how to help our animals this holiday season, go to pasadenahumane.org.