Tag Archive for Give From The Heart

Coming Soon To An Animal Shelter Near You

kitten at shelterDon’t worry, I’m not going to make you listen to Sarah McLachlan sing “In The Arms of an Angel” while you read (although you can if you feel so moved). I don’t want you to cry … I want you to think about the animals that are abandoned in shelters. Don’t feel guilty and think I’m telling you to save them all. Instead, remember that story about the boy and the starfish.

What? You haven’t heard that story? Sure you have, it’s all over the internet, but it case you have been on Mars for the last six years or so, here it is in a nutshell:

A boy and his grandfather walked along the beach, where they saw thousands of starfish that had been washed to the shore by the tide. The boy started picking up starfish, one by one, and flinging them back in the water.
His grandfather said, “Son, why are you wasting your time? There are so many that you can’t make a difference!”
The boy tossed another starfish into the water and said, “I made a difference to that one.”

Our animal shelter in Denton is at capacity right now. I imagine that shelters all over the country are full. As I understand it, the problem is worse these days because of the economy. Folks can’t afford to feed themselves, let alone a pet. So, more pets are being abandoned or taken to the animal shelters with the hopes that they will be adopted. Unless the animal winds up in a “no-kill” shelter, the chances aren’t good.

The kitten above (don’t you love those big ears?) was at our animal shelter a few months ago and probably got adopted. The kittens and the puppies are the lucky ones (if you can call beginning your life abandoned to a shelter to be “lucky”). Cute, itty-bitty animals tug at the heartstrings — therefore they get adopted more quickly. Older animals are not always so adorable or adoptable, although they still have a lot of love to give. If a caring person doesn’t recognize that and take them home … time runs out. Don’t make me tell you what happens next.

Not long ago, a stray dog and I crossed paths.the stray dog I took one look at her and called her “Frida,” because she had eyebrows like Frida Kahlo. Bless her heart, she was starving. That dog was just a bag of bones, but I could see that she was gentle and friendly. Now, I could not keep her for several reasons (even though my heart screamed to do so):

  1. I don’t have a fenced back yard.
  2. I can’t afford $10,000 to fence it … and we have coyotes!
  3. I have five indoor cats (all adopted from the streets) who howled, “No way!” when I suggested the dog move inside.
  4. My poor husband’s eyes howled the same thing. He is kind-hearted, but not that crazy about dogs.

I knew that if I called animal control it was a death sentence for the dog. Our local shelter works hard to get animals adopted (they even have a Facebook page where they show pictures), but Frida was too far from being adoptable. It would take months of care to get her back to the weight she needed to be. It would take resources that our shelter couldn’t afford to spend on just one dog.

Fortunately for me, and Frida, a neighbor was involved with Lost Paws, a no-kill group that helps strays find a home. Frida was taken to a house where she could romp with other dogs, regain her strength, and be safe. Last month I was informed that she had been adopted by a family with a young boy at home. Exactly what that big gal needed! Frida was lucky.

Other animals who are abandoned don’t fare so well.

Make a
to that one.

How can you make a difference?

  • Unless you are ready to make a lifetime commitment to the animal — don’t get it! A pet is a big responsibility. It deserves to be wanted and loved for life (which could be 12-18 years!). Before you get a pet, make darned sure you can and will care for it.
  • If you want a pet (or two … or three), consider adopting from a shelter. See if they have a Facebook page and view the animals there before you walk into the shelter. If you are like me you might walk away with a dozen critters (or cry your eyes out trying to choose). You could do what our son Ian and his wife did (I am so proud of them): they went to the local shelter intending to adopt a kitten … and came away with both a kitten and an older cat (who was a bit aloof and probably not very desirable). Now “Up-up,Down-down,” the kitten, and “Murphy” have a loving home for life.

    I won’t lie, you will have to spend money to get it. It might seem like a lot. At the Denton Animal Shelter, a dog/puppy costs $120 and a cat/kitten costs $110 … BUT, you will know it is healthy. It will have gotten all its vaccinations, be treated for all manner of vermin, be spayed/neutered, and have a microchip implanted (so the animal can be identified and returned to you if it ever gets lost).

  • If you already have pets be a responsible pet owner. Make sure that your pets are spayed or neutered. Yes, you macho men out there … that means that you must take Fido to the vet to have him “cut,” even though you are squeamish about the idea. Even though you keep your dog in a yard, he only has to get out one time to create an unwanted litter of puppies with a female dog owned by some other irresponsible pet owner. That is how animal shelters get filled!
  • If you can’t afford an animal, or your life isn’t suited for one right now, consider donating to your local Humane Society, Animal Shelter, or no-kill shelter. I like the idea of contributing locally instead of sending money to a faraway charity — which then spends your entire donation mailing you pictures of the animal you sponsored and requests for more money!
  • If money is tight, do what some friends of mine did: at their joint birthday party, they asked that, in lieu of gifts, friends bring cans of dog or cat food to donate to their local animal shelter. You will know who your true friends are when they show up with a case of animal food and a bottle of wine!

Hundreds of animals are coming to an animal shelter near you daily. Now it’s true that you can’t save them all. But, you can make a difference for one. Whatever you do … don’t do nothing.

Now go listen to Sarah Mclachlan and weep a little bit while you ponder what you can do.

Be The Change

When my neighbor walks her annoying, yappy little dog through the neighborhood each day, she wears work gloves and carries an enormous garbage bag. It’s not that her dog will make that big of a mess when he does his “business.” While she walks, she carries that bag because she picks up the trash that drivers have carelessly tossed on the roadside.

You must
the change
you want to
see in
the world
.” Mahatma Gandhi

You might be thinking, “That won’t change anything. Someone else is just going to throw out their litter and the road will be all trashy again.” Sadly, you are probably right about the drivers … but it’s not pointless. For a brief moment each day, our neighborhood is pristine (and I’d hate to think what it might look like if she didn’t pick up the trash for us). Each day, my neighbor makes a difference … and gets some extra exercise, too.

I once lived next door to a retired man who loved his riding lawnmower. Each week during the spring when he mowed his own lawn, he drove across the neighboring yards to mow them, too. He wasn’t making a “statement” about our yards — he was just being helpful. We appreciated it, too. It’s hard to juggle raising two kids, working full time, going to school, keeping house, and mowing the lawn. Fred made a difference.

It’s true that Fred was doing something he enjoyed anyway. In fact, if he didn’t have a lawn to mow, he would simply drive around the streets on that lawn mower giving little kids a ride. By mowing our lawns for us, Fred allowed the younger folks on the block to have more time to spend with their children. I wonder where Fred is these days? I wish he still lived next to me!

I have the great good fortune to deal with people (mostly women) who also make a difference every day. These women have combined their passion for crochet with their love of children to work for the Share A Square program. As they sit in front of their television sets (or wait in doctor’s offices), they crochet colorful six-inch squares to make blankets for little kid’s with cancer. I’m being bombarded by mail right now, as they send thousands of squares to me. Those kind-hearted women are doing something they like to do anyway, using up scrap yarn, and when they are done 150 little kids will be wrapped with the warmth of their love.

Today is “Make A Difference Day.” Perhaps you have heard about it? On one day a year, according to USA Weekend Magazine, millions of Americans go out in the wide world to do something (anything) to make the world a better place. Getting people to work for the greater good on one day each year is a powerful idea, however I can’t help but imagine:

What would this world be like if we all chose to “make a difference” one day a month … or once a week? Imagine what this world would be like if we all considered our actions every day and made the deliberate choice to “make a difference.”

Now, open your eyes wide and look around you. Put on your thinking cap and consider what tiny thing you could do (maybe something that you already like to do) each day to make the world a better place. What can you do to make a difference?

Imagine the change you want to see in the world and BE the change.

A Handful Of Helpers

I’m drowning in a sea of Share A Square afghans at my house, and I don’t get much opportunity to come up for air! I’ve got a lot of hands reaching to help, though.

children helping with Share A Square

For the last several days I have been working with the 4th and 5th grade art students at Cross Oaks Elementary in the Denton ISD. When they heard that the afghans were for kids with cancer, they enthusiastically helped join the squares (and did a darned fine job). With the help of their teacher, Stacy Sturgell (who has been one of the main volunteers in assembling the afghans), these kiddos put together three out of the 150 afghans we will deliver. Those are some kids with big hearts.

Everybody say, “Way to go, kids!”

I haven’t been posting much lately, and I’ve been avoiding the computer. I apologize for that, but I’ve been productive. My poor husband, bless his heart, is being very patient with this charity project, which has overtaken the whole house. I just have to be certain that I leave one chair cleared so that he can sit occasionally.

“How is the project going?” you might ask.

I’m thrilled to tell you. At my house this morning, I have 91 afghans completed and ready for delivery. There are 36 afghans being completed by other hands than mine. I’m betting that I have most of those by the middle of next month. Some of those are already finished, but I don’t count them as complete until they are here. I am working on 6 afghans which are in various stages of completion. I have to be working on several at a time, because I get bored with stitching with a needle and switch to crochet on another afghan.

That leaves only 17 untouched afghan kits in my bathtub! My guests might be able to take a bath before summer at this rate … except that no one will come into my house. I wonder why? Could it be because I hand them a needle and some squares to stitch?

Now, seventeen afghans might seem like a lot to do, but don’t worry — they stitch together quickly. Our first two deliveries (to Camp Quality Louisiana and Camp Quality Arkansas) are in June. We have the afghans we need for that delivery already done. Camp Quality Texas isn’t until mid-July, so we have plenty of time to get done. I almost feel like I can relax … almost.

Stay tuned, because next week I’ll tell y’all more about Share A Square for next year, because we are doing it again. I’ve learned a lot on this go-round, so there will be a few changes in deadlines. I’d like to avoid the “last minute rush.” The stress won’t make my hair go gray (because it is meticulously dyed), but I might just pull it all out, and we can’t be having that!