Monday, December 28, 2015

The Spirit of Giving

It seems the holiday spirit is infectious this time of year.  It’s the time when people are nicer, more compassionate, more giving, and usually happier.  

The spirit of giving is an interesting component of the overall holiday spirit.  It can be loosely defined by the Webster dictionary as an inclination, impulse, or tendency to give.  How can you not be intrigued by an invisible force that mystically inspires people to give more than any other time of year?  Don’t believe it? This concept is reinforced with the fact that almost all non-profit organizations receive 40% of their yearly donations in the last six weeks of the year, despite the need for donations all year long. (

Instead of trying to solve the world’s great mysteries, we will embrace the spirit of giving and let ourselves be inspired to give as well.  As we consider our approach to giving we are faced with two main possibilities.  1. Give donations or 2. Give time.  

1. Give donations:

Animal shelters have always had a rough time caring for the large influx of animals that come in each year. “Approximately 3,500 animal shelters across the United States serve the estimated 6-8 million homeless animals who need refuge each year.  Many more animals find themselves in need of the services provided by local rescue groups….Shelters and rescues are always in need of towels, food, toys, and other supplies for the animals, often specified in a “wish list” on their website. Give what you can, ask family, friends and colleagues to do so as well.” – Humane Society.

Dachs 2 Danes will be accepting donations for the OC Animal Care Center at the daycare facility through the month of December.  Please drop off any unwanted towels, dog toys, blankets, food, newspaper, brushes, bedding, treats, or other item on the shelter's wish list

2. Give time:

Volunteering is a great activity for the whole family and it teaches children the true meaning of giving as well as a greater understanding and appreciation for the things they have.  Volunteering helps build character through humility, kindness, compassion, understanding, generosity, caring, and serving someone regardless their own problems or needs.  Cities are always looking for volunteers to help keep communities beautiful and community programs available. The chance to make a difference in an animal’s life is a gift in itself.  

When thinking about how your family can make the most of giving this season, consider extending your commitment to providing charitable acts throughout the year.  Many organizations have plenty of volunteers over the holidays but lack sufficient volunteer resources the remainder of the year.  

There is really no substitute for the feeling you get after giving your time to help someone else in need.  Open your heart this holiday season (and for the rest of the year) to an animal in need and watch the positive impact blossom in your life.  

Friday, December 18, 2015

Good Idea, Bad Idea

Did you ever have a stroke of genius only to discover later that it wasn’t such a good idea after all?  While we all make those bad choices at least once in our lives we should not be so careless when it comes to another living being.  Here are a couple of helpful tips to get you and your dog though this holiday season without an ‘oops’ or a visit to the vet.  
Good Idea: Hanging the stockings by the chimney with care.
Bad Idea: Hanging treats (like candy canes) within reach of the dog.
We all know dogs (and cats) can be mischievous, and like toddlers, they like to stick things in their mouths.  Any holiday can be a dangerous time for a pet but Christmas time tends to have more sharp and toxic items for them to get a hold of. 
  • Keep all candy canes and sweets out of reach from your pup. 
  • Make sure all the electrical cords are tucked away or tapped down to keep your pup from chewing on them and getting shocked (or worse). 
  • Don’t let them drink the Christmas tree water as it can contain fertilizer or even bacteria. 
  • Keep holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, and lilies out of reach as these plants can be toxic to pets. 
  • And lastly, try to buy non-toxic decorations because we know that pets can’t resist playing with them.   
Good Idea: Enjoying holiday cheer with family and friends.
Bad Idea: Over-sharing Holiday Cheer with the dog.
We all know how stressful it can be having a ton of house guests over for the holidays.  Imagine how stressful it can be for your dog.  If you plan on having  a lot of company over at your house this holiday, give your dog a quiet and safe retreat somewhere in the house (as far from the commotion as you can) and turn on soothing music (like classical).  Of course, don’t forget to give her potty breaks.  If your dog is out mingling with guests, make sure your guests know the rules you have with your dog:  
  • No feeding scraps from the table (even if you do it normally)
  • No sharing drinks (alcoholic or not)
  • No pulling tails or ears
  • Watch for the dog when the door is open
  • No jumping on people (that rule is for the dog)  
Regardless of where your dog is in your home this holiday season, keep in mind that when dogs are stressed they tend to pant more and therefore require more water.  Be sure to have plenty of fresh water available for her to drink.
Good Idea: Giving a gift card to your niece for Christmas.
Bad Idea: Giving a puppy to your niece for Christmas.
Animal shelters and rescue organizations know all too well that about half of all animals at the shelters (and nationwide) are owner surrenders.  The majority of pet owners say they got their pet from a friend or family member.  And while these pets are often acquired with the best of intentions, for one reason or another it doesn’t work out and the animal ends up in the ‘system’.  This is a big reason why organizations like ASPCA urge people not to buy pets as gifts.  
Picking out the perfect pet has to be a personal decision.  Believe it or not, every dog (and cat) has a unique personality, so it is best to find a companion that you feel a connection with and fits your lifestyle.  For example, a person who enjoys staying indoors and watching a movie rather than going on a hike would not be a good owner for a husky, as they require a lot of exercise.  Additionally, your friend or family member may say they want a pet but may not actually be ready for one.  In short, when deciding on what gift to give this year, go with the gift card and not a pet.   

Good Idea: Giving your dog a belly rub.
Bad Idea: Giving a perfect stranger a belly rub.
...For obvious reasons. ;-)