New year, new resolve


Pay off the credit card, eat more fiber or lose 15 pounds are a few resolutions we toss out before the fruitcake gets stale. I have never been particularly enthusiastic about making resolutions. Too much stress and expectation for me. But I do appreciate the concept of a fresh start. What if this year, instead of the usual self-based resolutions, we resolve to do something better for those around us? If we start small, say, with our animal companions (who give us love and joy every day of the year), maybe we’d be more likely to stick to a new year resolve.

For instance, commit to walk your dog every day, even when it’s blustery and chilly and you’d rather huddle on the couch. Few things are more important for your dog’s health and happiness than the opportunity to stretch his legs and read the daily “news” on the local fire hydrant. A daily dog walk is a win/win arrangement.

Or, set aside some “canine quality time” every day to play with, talk to, get your hands on your dog. It’s too easy to overlook our smaller friends when life gets hectic, and most dogs are too polite to complain when they’re bored or lonely.

Senior pets that have been around so long they’re considered part of the furniture particularly appreciate and benefit from personal hands-on time. They have given you their best years and their time is growing short. Commit to spending quality, hands-on time with your old friend.

Plan to have your dog spayed or neutered, if you haven’t already.  Not only will it protect your animal from potential cancers but will prevent accidental litters.

Thousands of animals are born in this county only to end up on the streets or dumped at the Beaufort County animal shelter. If your dog is already  “fixed,” why not offer to help your friends or neighbors have their animals spayed or neutered by transporting them to SNACC or the veterinarian or even giving a spay/neuter gift certificate? Or co-op the fee with a group of friends. Spaying and neutering is cheap, but saving lives is priceless.

Resolve to be an Angel for a lonely, chained backyard dog in your neighborhood. I can’t think of a more cruel punishment for these loving, social animals than to be isolated, far away from their human “pack,” with only a few feet to move around in and nothing to do but watch the pounded dirt turn to mud. Engaging the dog’s guardians in conversation about what dogs need, such as companionship, a warm and dry house filled with straw in the winter, fresh food and water every day, and regular veterinary care, is a good start. You might be told to mind your own business (or worse) but sharing your concern with the owner could also be a starting point for a better life for that animal. Offer to take the dog for walks, or offer dog treats and toys. Don’t give up: some lucky dogs have had their entire lives changed because of someone who cared enough to intervene.

Speak up when you notice neglected or abused pets in your neighborhood.  Call Animal Control if you suspect an animal is in danger or in an abusive situation. This isn’t pleasant, but if you can help even one animal escape a painful life, it is worth it. Shelter staff and rescue group volunteers will thank you for your help.

There are thousands of animals in Beaufort County in need of help each day. This concept can be overwhelming for many residents. For them, it is easier to turn a blind eye and pretend the problem doesn’t exist or leave it “those other people.” Resolve to become one of those “other people.” Every little bit helps. Financial donations, donations of supplies to the shelter or a rescue group are always appreciated. Resolve this year to volunteer some time: write a letter, make a phone call, be a foster family. Real live animals are helped by your generosity. It’s a great way to start a new year.

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