To Be a Better Person, Learn from Your Pet.
I started thinking about New Year’s resolutions and why they matter after I heard the Marist Poll announce that the number one resolution for 2018 is to be a better person.
Amen, I say to that! And one of the best ways I know to make a person happier, more fulfilled, and just plain better is to find a way to help and love homeless animals.
It might seem obvious, but sometimes what’s obvious needs repeating: So, to keep that New Year’s resolution, here’s a tip: Adopt a pet!
But before you adopt, do your homework. I’ve placed more than 500 cats and kittens into responsible, loving homes during the past few years, and nothing impresses me more than a well-informed, serious applicant. If you need advice, visit your local shelter. Most rescue groups and shelters have adoption counselors to make appropriate matches, and some even have foster-to- adopt programs that can be really beneficial to both the potential adopter and the animal. Get expert information, because the decision to adopt will stay with you for the lifetime of your new pet, and adopting on impulse isn’t fair to the animal or to you.
Opal, Ruby, and Jasmin, triple adoption. Together forever!
Once you’ve transformed the life of a homeless animal, something wonderful happens. You discover that unconditional love goes both ways — you get it and you give it. In fact, I think the human-animal relationship helps a person realize that what really matters in life is life, the life you can protect and nurture, as well as the better life you’re living because you adopted a pet in need.
And the benefits continue. Research shows that pet guardians have higher self-esteem and are more outgoing and less fearful than people who don’t share their lives with pets. A pet’s resilience is so inspiring they can help us feel optimistic and give us a sense that good things can come our way. After all, you are the good thing that came your pet’s way and changed everything for the better!
(Don’t tell Leon Bear, but black cats have a harder time finding homes.)
Pets reduce loneliness, stress, and blood pressure, give us support in times of crisis, and when they go crazy in your hair to help you tease it for a New Year’s Eve Party — or use every option available at the litter box — they make you laugh out loud.
My personal stylist, a girl kitten named Jeff.
Cuddles taking no chances.
Special-needs pets, like our blind and beautiful Sophia
(shown above), bring special love into life.
I’ve had so many fosters who were blind, were missing a leg, or had neurological issues that at first seemed daunting. But after living with them for a while, I came to realize they’re incredibly resilient and adaptable and make perfect companions.
My colleagues at North Shore Animal League America offer a powerful way for all of us to help special-needs pets through their Pet Sponsor Program. Members of the program make a monthly commitment to help support the more than 36 cats and dogs who will need special medical care for the rest of their lives. Many of these pets have been adopted or live in foster homes. Nevertheless, as part of its no-kill mission, Animal League America covers their medical expenses for as long as they live. I’m so proud of this program and so touched by the lives it saves.
One feline, named Pretty Kitty, is still looking for a foster home or adopter. Animal League America rescued her from a local municipal shelter in November 2015. She has a neurological condition that affects her coordination. She also struggles with incontinence, but according to my friends at North Shore, she more than makes up for her challenges with a bright, playful, affectionate personality. Everyone loves her.
If you’re interested in beginning the year by supporting a special-needs pet in this incredible program, please visit animalleague.org/sponsor.
— BREAKING NEWS —
Pretty Kitty has been adopted! This fabulous feline wrapped her new mom and dad around here dainty little paw on January 15, 2018. Now this beautiful girl has a New Year’s resolution of her own – to live happily ever after.
Pets make us better and happier in countless ways. I’ve mentioned just a few here. Studies show that pet people laugh more, talk more, play more, move more (which helps with that fitness resolution), and perhaps most important of all, care more. I’m not so naïve as to believe that adopting a pet will bring world peace, but I know from my own experience that pets can transform your world for the better and bring a sense of peace and serenity into your life that you’ll value every day of the year.
Adopt, if you can. But if you can’t adopt right now, then foster. If fostering doesn’t work for you, then volunteer at your local shelter or support their work with a donation, large or small.
It’s the least we can do for creatures who do so much for us. After all, pets open our hearts not only to other animals, but also to ourselves and to each other. More than anything, that’s how pets make us better people.
Happy New Year,
P.S. Here’s a reminder: Our friends at Hallmark Channel will broadcast Kitten Bowl V, on Sunday, February 4, 2018, starting at 12 noon EST. This is going to be the most exciting, lifesaving gridiron battle ever. We’re featuring adoptions and player backstories, and I’m thrilled to say that all of the cat-letes have found responsible, loving homes. Animal League America rescued many of these cats and kittens during last summer’s awful hurricanes, so this is a really moving event. You do not want to miss this. Learn more about Kitten Bowl V at animalleague.org/kittenbowl.
Keeping his eye on the ball.