Celebrating Companion Animals In 2018

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As 2018 arrives, that inescapable question gets bandied about in stairwells and around water coolers: “What are you doing for New Years?”

It’s that rote inquiry that so many of us make with more or less genuine curiosity. For me, it has became as much a throw-away as someone asking, “So, what do you do?” at one of those cringe-worthy social mixers.

Those of us on the receiving end may feel compelled to utter a soul-stirring reply as if - like with our vocations - our very identity depended on it.

Well, I can safely say that, for this New Years at least, I will not be camped at Machu Picchu waiting for an alien landing. Nor will I be standing in a frigid Times Square for 13 hours straight (a trusty catheter strapped to my thigh) waiting for the “ball to drop.”

Nope. I will be snuggling with my wife, Susan, and our doggie daughter, Lilly, the Boston terrier. Any spectacle that we could spend a fortune on (or endure sleep deprivation for) shall be enjoyed from the warm cocoon of our couch.

For those of you who are still undecided about how to celebrate New Years, here are some ideas:

  • Volunteer at a local shelter. Because so many people are away for the holidays, shelter staff may be thin. Any time you can afford to provide companionship and basic necessities to neglected, abused or abandoned animals would be appreciated more than you know.
  • Pet sit - for free. Got friends who are going out on the town or away for a couple of days? Offer to party down with Sophie or Tank - or their whole gang. If you’re thinking about fostering or adopting, this could be an enlightening and rewarding first step.
  • Walk or play with a dog for an elderly person or for someone who is recovering from a physical injury or surgery. Rarely does one feel more vulnerable - and helpless - when they are not able to physically tend to their pet’s needs. As we say in my tribe, this is a true mitzvah.
  • Offer to be there for someone who's pet is at his or her end of life. Nothing shows you care and understand more than a pledge to be present when a loved one’s pet crosses over by natural or assisted means. 
  • Foster. Taking in an animal, even for a little while, opens up space in shelters to house a sudden influx of animals in an emergency and spares the lives of pets who would otherwise be euthanized for want of space. Fostering doesn’t have to be forever, though you may end up deciding it should be.
  • Adopt. When - and if - you’re ready, expanding your circle of love and saving a furry or feathered life is one of the most generous and rewarding things you’ll ever do.

At every turn this past year, we’ve witnessed mind-blowing acts of humanity. In the midst and the aftermath of floods and fires, first-responders, community members and strangers descended like angels to rescue and shelter affected people and animals. Even some animals took a stand against the raging elements to protect their brethren.

These are the things that people and animals chose to do - not because they had to, but because they wanted to.

It is what we choose to do that we don’t have to that could be the purest measure of who we are - on New Years Day and every day.

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How else could you imagine celebrating New Years with a companion animal? Share your thoughts below or on FB at Rescue Legacy.