I gave up New Year’s resolutions a while ago. Instead, I decided to incorporate some changes into my day-to-day life that made the lives of others better, which in turn, made me feel far better than all those weeks I had spent trying to meditate on the floor of a quiet room, and all I could think about was the laundry in the dryer and if I’d remembered to make an appointment to have my oil changed. (Maybe I was doing it wrong?) In any case, when I think of issues and situations that have concerned me throughout the year that I’d like to help improve, animals are always at the top of my list. And if you’re reading this, maybe they are for you too. So, I thought I’d share a handful of things I’ve introduced in the past, as well as some new activities, that are relatively small but really impactful in the animal welfare world. And maybe your resolutions will become revelations too.
1. Walk with Purpose
Perhaps getting more exercise, or spending time outdoors, is already on your list. If so, chances are those are also reoccurring resolution items and you might be wondering how to feel more motivated about it this year. And this could be just what you need. There is a great program called WoofTrax, which is a free app you can download on your phone, that uses GPS to track your walks and mileage, and each walk donates money to your favorite animal charity. It’s designed for dog owners, so you can add your pup’s photo to the profile and share your walks and how many donations they’ve earned for their shelter friends within the WoofTrax group. The donations come from corporate sponsorships and advertising, so the more people are involved and walking, the more money your charity if choice receives. To make it even more fun, you can see other dogs and walkers in your area and create a walking group or participate in a WoofTrax Challenge with other dogs and owners across the country or in your community.
2. Make a New Friend or Two
If you don’t happen to have a pet to get outside with, there are plenty at your local shelter who would love to have a little time out of the shelter. Volunteers are an essential part of a successful shelter and by taking them for runs or walks at local parks provides a lot of visibility and public interactions that could help them find their forever families. (Who hasn’t hoped to meet someone great at the park?) And, if you’ve been thinking about becoming a pet owner, but aren’t sure if you’re ready for a full-time commitment, these walks and play dates could lead to fostering opportunities. Temporarily opening your home to a pet awaiting adoption not only gives you a chance to see what pet ownership is like on a daily basis, it also frees up space for another animal who desperately needs shelter and care. Plus, if you use WoofTrax on your walks, you’re doubling the benefits for your favorite adoption center!
3. Get Crafty for a Cause
If you live in a cold weather state and spend a lot of time indoors during the winter months, many find it’s a great time to keep busy with crafting. But if your drawers are full of half-finished scarves and you have even less patience than daylight, think about making some quick and easy toys for the animals at your local shelter. What animal doesn’t like to snuggle up on a warm blanket of their own? Especially when they’re in a new place that’s strange and can be somewhat scary at first. Here are some links to easy no-sew fleece blankets and “snuffle mats”, which can both be made with some materials you probably have lying around the house.
When you’re sorting your recyclables on trash day, set aside toilet paper and paper towel tubes; they make great pet toys. If you place treats inside the tubes and close the ends, they provide lots of fun for pets to tear into to find their surprise.
And if you have kids that you’re trying to entertain on days it’s too chilly to spend outside, these projects are fun, fast, and super easy. Plus, it’s a wonderful lesson on caring for animals and gives them extra pride and purpose in creating their project.
4. We Should All Drink More Water
All animals need water, and it can sometimes be difficult, particularly for urban and suburban stray, including wildlife, to find places to quench their thirst. So, simply place a clean bowl of fresh water outside, somewhere safe, for thirsty animals passing through. For some, it could be the difference of life and death. On particularly cold nights, you might also consider creating a winter shelter for community cats. They can be made from spare Styrofoam or Rubbermaid bins, and just a bit of straw or bedding. Here’s a link for really simple shelter construction from Alley Cat Advocates.
5. Support the Supporters
Finally, do a little research and find the local businesses who support your animal welfare values and support them in return! And take the time to let them know you appreciate their contributions, it lets owners know they’re not only making a positive impact on the community, but also their business as well. It’s also a great time to scope out local politicians and lawmakers, especially those who might be new to the scene and remind them how important animal advocacy is to people in your town and that shelter support should have a place on their platform.
Well, I promised you a handful, and those are my top 5. If you have others, please send them to us! We’d love to share them, because this year, sharing, caring, and being good to each other – no matter the species – might be the only resolution we all need.