Happy Earth Day! What are your plans for tomorrow? I would like to remember the animals this Earth Day, so that inspired me to put together this list of 10 simple things we can do tomorrow (and year-round!) to help our planet’s animals. Read on for my ideas, in addition to a special Earth Day Meditation:
1. Volunteer at your favorite animal shelter. Spending an afternoon with animals in need is a wonderful way to give back and boost your spirits at the same time.
2. Take your horse on a trail ride through the forest. Your horse will love the extra attention, and meanwhile you can take this quiet time to enjoy the beauty of the trees and nature around you.
I don’t go anywhere without my smartphone. Life’s a juggling act, whether I’m taking calls, working or even snapping pics of my dog Mystic. How awesome that I can also use my mobile to keep Mystic on point in her training, get animal first aid tips and find dog-friendly hiking trails in Marin? I can do all this, and more, with apps—and here are eight of the best for animal lovers:
1. Puppy Coach 101: Coaching your new puppy isn’t easy, so why go it alone? This video-based app guides you in crate training, potty training, teaching sit, teaching them to learn their name, nipping and biting, and more. Learn tactics instantly with videos featuring professional dog trainer Joanne Lekas. $2.99 (iPhone)
2. Dog Clicker Training: To go with the training app mentioned above, this easy-to-use app gives you professional HD clicker sounds to assist in those training sessions with your dog or cat. Free (iPhone)
3. Pet First Aid: This app from the American Red Cross offers up all you need to know to help your cat or dog in an emergency. Includes how-to videos (such as animal CPR), an early warning signs checklist, the location of your nearest emergency hospital, common first aid tips and more. $0.99 (Android, iPhone, Amazon)
4. BarkBuddy: Thinking about adding a new member to the family? BarkBuddy, which links to 2,500 rescues nationwide, connects animal lovers with “the perfect match” at their local shelter. Simply swipe to see photos, bios and distance from you. An Android version is in the works. Free (iPhone)
5. Pose A Pet: With 20 sound effects including “meow,” “zing” and “squeaky,” this app ensures your cat or dog looks at the camera every single time, ensuring a perfect photo. The app was created by Jennifer Whaley, an animal photographer who used similar sounds to take pictures of 2,500 rescue dogs. Free (iPhone); $3 (Android)
6. BringFido: Traveling with your dog just got easier. With BringFido, just swipe to find pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, parks, beaches and other places that are happy to see you bring your four-legged friends, too. Free (iPhone)
7. ASPCA: Keep your pet as safe as possible in a natural disaster with this app. Not only can you store medical records, but you can also access important information during an emergency, learn how to search for your animal (if he becomes lost in a major storm, for example), create a “lost pet” digital flyer to share on social media, and more. Free (iPhone and Android)
8. Cute or Not: Do you have the cutest dog on the block? Upload a pic to Cute or Not and see if others agree. The app also lets you rate other people’s pets (for cute, the app says “swipe right!”) and see trending photos. (But wait—who’s swiping left? Aren’t all animals cute??!) Free (iPhone)
What are your favorite apps for animal lovers? Share here!
We see so much in the news about our brave men and women in uniform who are deployed overseas. But what about the animals by their side, either at home or abroad? The following nonprofit organizations are doing amazing work to support our servicemen and women, veterans and even active duty dogs:
Mission K9 Rescue: This wonderful organization is dedicated to ensuring military and active duty dogs find a loving home and lifelong care following their retirement. It also funds missions to bring combat working dogs home from Afghanistan and other war-torn countries and reunite them with their handler for a special adoption. It costs around $3,000 to bring a military dog home. Click here for info on the dogs they’re working to bring home today.
Pets for Vets: This amazing organization pairs U.S. military veterans suffering from PTSD with rescued shelter dogs. Pets for Vets matches vets up with great dogs to fit their personality, then brings in dog trainers to get the dog ready for his or her new life and home. Check out these heartwarming photos and adoption stories (note: you may want to keep a tissue handy).
Fostering military pets: When our active duty members get called to serve, sometimes they need a loving home to place their pet until their return. If you are interested in fostering or making a donation to support these animals in need, the following three organizations can help you get started: Dogs on Deployment, Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet and PACT for Animals.
Do you know of any other ways we can help military dogs?
I’ve spent a lot of time over the years in animal shelters, so I know all about the misconceptions surrounding shelter animals. For instance: Many people think shelter animals are put there because of aggression or behavior problems. Wrong! According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, the top two reasons for an animal to end up in a shelter are (1) moving/financial and (2) landlord issues. Here, I’d like to clear up some of the myths and point to my top five reasons why adopting from a shelter is the absolute best decision you can make:
1. You’re saving TWO lives: You save the life of the animal you bring home, plus you make room in the shelter for another animal to take their place. This is true even if you’re adopting from a no-kill shelter. The no-kill shelters save animals from the kill shelters whenever they can.
2. You have a better chance of knowing the animal’s personality: Animals in shelters sometimes live there for months or even years. That time gives the caregivers a good handle on the dog or cat’s personality: if they’re sociable, loving, shy and so on. When you buy a puppy at a breeder or a pet store, you truly don’t know what you’re getting until they grow up and their adult personality emerges. Shelters are also invested in helping the animals find forever homes, so there will be many opportunities for you to spend time with the animal before bringing them home for good. (I encourage my readers to please not support pet stores. You can read about puppy mills here.)
3. Shelters offer more options: What do you want, a puppy or a kitten? A calm dog that has outgrown the tiring puppy stage? A cat in her senior years? A purebred golden retriever? Whatever kind of furry family member you’re looking for, you can likely find the perfect fit at one of your local shelters. You’re not limited to just puppies or kittens. And, yes, plenty of purebreds end up in shelters, too. Next time you go for an adoption, keep this startling fact in mind: Black cats and dogs are most often overlooked in shelters, so give special consideration to these little cuties, which are more difficult to rehome.
4. Shelters save other animals, too: Maybe you’re not a dog or cat person; you’d rather save a rabbit, hamster, ferret or bird. Yes, cats and dogs make up the majority of available animals at the rescue—but don’t forget there are other critters, too!
5. It’s less expensive and a good value: Breeders charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a single animal. When you adopt from a shelter, they’ve had a health checkup, their shots, may be spayed or neutered (or even microchipped!), come with a collar and ID tag, and sometimes they’re even potty trained.
I hear all the time that rescued pets make the best animal companions. Did you adopt from a shelter? I’d love to hear your story!