Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Greyhounds & Grey Hairs

Greyhounds add fun to lots of activities.  I have walked in the woods with my greyhounds, taken them camping, run in dog jogs with them, and marched in parades with them.  The most fulfilling thing that I have done with my greyhounds, however, is pet therapy.  Once a month I take them to our local nursing home, The Retreat.  I affectionately call our outings Greyhounds & Grey Hairs.

Pet therapy in general is a wonderful thing; I have seen firsthand that residents who otherwise are not very engaged can come to life when they see a four-legged visitor.  Greyhounds in particular can be great pet therapy dogs.  First, their calm demeanor makes them well suited to be around elderly or sick people.  Also, someone in a hospital bed or wheelchair can more easily pet such a tall dog.

I was a little nervous when I first started Greyhounds & Grey Hairs.  I was going to visit people I didn’t know, and I wasn’t sure exactly what to say or do.  My fears soon disappeared.  A number of residents have had dogs earlier in their lives, and so they love getting to see any kind of dog now.  Also, because many people have never seen a greyhound before, that can be a great conversation starter.  It got easier and easier as the greyhounds and I started visiting with a lot of the same people each time.  It’s gotten to the point with many residents that they briefly say hello to the hounds, and then we launch into a conversation about what all has been going on with each other since our last visit.  It’s funny how the human-hound connection has fostered some pretty special human-human connections, too.

Over the years I have jotted down stories of some of my Greyhounds & Grey Hairs encounters.  During the next week I’ll share some of them.  Here’s one from the early days of Greyhounds & Grey Hairs:

Trooper was my first pet therapy dog as well as my first greyhound.  One day we entered the common room at The Retreat.  As usual, a number of residents were gathered, and Trooper and I started walking around.  We approached a man who had a rather mischievous grin.  He teased, “Is that a drug dog?”  Without missing a beat, I smiled and replied, “Why?  Are you worried?”

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