Friday, December 19, 2008

Giving to All Creatures -- Great & Small

Gift giving figures prominently this time of year. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and/or Winter Solstice, you are probably planning on buying or making a gift for someone and probably hoping that someone does the same for you.

Did you know that from Thanksgiving until December 23rd , many, many generous people bring lots of fun toys, yummy treats and healthy food to the Washington Animal Rescue League for the animals? Pet stores throughout the D.C. area have big boxes labeled Paws for Presents where shoppers can drop off something they purchased for someone else's dog or cat. The Paws for Presents gifts are sorted and distributed to folks who take good care of their animals, but may not always have the resources to buy a squeaky toy or box of biscuits. Some folks love their animals very much,; however, at times, buying pet food is tough. The League keeps lists of people who have requested help with providing comfy beds for their aging cats and food for their best 4-pawed buddies.

We are grateful to everyone who helps us help our many friends and neighbors. For people like Angela, Presents for Paws is a holiday dream come true. Angela has arthritis so badly that she can barely move her fingers. She also has a little dog, Beau, whom she adores. What she doesn’t have, especially toward the end of the month, is money. Sometimes, she tells us, she has had to go to bed hungry so that Beau can eat. It may be surprising to many of us, but people like Angela are not rare. Nearly every day, someone like her comes to our Medical Center for low-cost care for their animals. This time of year, we like to do a little extra for them.

You can do a little extra for your dogs and cats, too. There are many gifts that you can provide that are easy to give and do not cost a dime.


  • Walk your dog every day (it might be best to take your dog and mom or dad).
  • Brush or pet your dog when you are watching TV.
  • Make sure that your dog has plenty of clean water at all times.
  • When you are reading a book, read to your dog -- your dog likes the sound of your voice.
  • Give your dog something special -- a little peanut butter on a piece of banana or carrot is one of my dog's favorite treats. NO CHOCOLATE though, chocolate is deadly to dogs.
  • Keep your cat's litter box clean. Cats are fastidious animals -- they don't like to use an already soiled box.
  • Brush your cat every day with a brush made just for cats.
  • Make a toy for your cat. Put a ping pong ball or busy ball (plastic ball with a bell inside) inside an empty tissue box. Tilt the box so the ball makes a noise. You will have an instant cat game!
  • Make sure your cat has plenty of fresh water. Some cats even like to drink water from the bathroom or kitchen faucets. Milk is NOT good for cats.
There are hundreds of ways to show your dog or cat that they are special every single day. The holidays are a nice time to do something a little extra for all animals. The League is happy to provide Paws for Presents and I am looking forward to taking my dog, Nigel, for long walks in the woods during this busy holiday time.

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