It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. There’s a lot to love about this time of year — Santa, shopping, wrapping presents, music and lights. But have we become too focused on the ‘gimme’ elements of the holiday? Maybe it’s time to rethink the point of Christmas.
Thomas Monson said that, “Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in others. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing true values.”
In this spirit, I hope that the holiday season will inspire us to reflect on how full and rich our lives are, how many of our needs are met, and how much love and happiness our family and friends bring to our lives. I hope that those of us who have pets will reflect on the joy they give us and include them in this portrait of thanks.
As we consider how truly lucky we are this Christmas, I also hope that we can think about opening our hearts to those who are less fortunate, including the thousands of wonderful animals that have no home or loving family to call their own. They wait patiently in shelters and rescues hoping for that moment when someone will look into their eyes and see how special they are. They are there through no fault of their own. Some were abandoned, left out in the cold or lived life at the end of a chain.
Some were neglected, not wanted enough or surrendered for just getting old. Some did have loving guardians, but their guardians were no longer able to care for them, having moved to a nursing home or passing away. All need our help.
I recently met 10-year-old Lucas at the Nova Scotia SPCA Dartmouth Shelter. He and his brother brought in a huge basket of food and toys for the animals. Lucas told me that since he turned seven, he has asked Santa and his family to make donations to the SPCA instead of giving him gifts.
“I just love animals a lot,” Lucas said. “People need stuff but animals need help too.”
Lucas’ kind giving spirit and selflessness set an example for all of us. He knows that Christmas is less about getting gifts and more about giving back. If you want to give back this Christmas, please consider helping homeless pets. Here are some ideas.
• Ask friends and family to make donations to the NS SPCA or favourite rescue instead of presents.
• Honour a loved one or beloved pet that has passed away with a donation to homeless animals in their memory.
• Donate much-needed items for the animals. The SPCA’s wish list can be found at http://spcans.ca/how-to-help/make-a-donation/wishlist/.
• Give the gift of your time — volunteer at your local shelter or rescue. The support and dedication of volunteers are the lifeblood of animal rescue.
• Foster a homeless pet. You’ll be helping two animals — the one you foster and another who will get a place in the shelter.
As a responsible pet parent:
• Help dissuade others from spontaneously getting a pet as a Christmas gift without fully considering the lifelong commitment they need to make to that pet.
• Lead by example making sure your pets are spayed/neutered, to help reduce the number of homeless animals.
Please share your holiday spirit with homeless pets. They will be forever grateful.