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, August 1, 2013

Animal Shelters - The Number One Choice for Companion Animals

Are you looking to adopt a pet?  Please visit your local animal shelter.   Shelter pets are the best!  Most are house trained, have basic obedience skills, are spayed or neutered, have received the necessary veterinary care, and are eager for someone to love them.  Sadly, however, up to 50% of dogs and up to 70% of cats who enter shelters will never make it out simply because no one comes to adopt them.

My parents introduced me to the joy of shelter animals.  They adopted Daffy, our first family dog, before I was born.  Daffy, a Labrador mix, was a much loved member of our family for the first decade of my life.  Typical of mixed breeds, she was hearty and healthy, and she lived to be 15.

Daffy and me

We adopted our next family dog from our local animal shelter, too.  Button was a small mixed breed, probably mostly Shih Tzu or Maltese.  He had a good, long life, too.


When I was in college, an old boyfriend surprised me with a cocker spaniel puppy that he got from a classified ad.  I really shouldn’t have adopted a dog at that point in my life, particularly one that didn’t come from a shelter, but you don’t always do the smart thing when you’re only 20.  I named my puppy Garth, as in Brooks.  Garth was a very sweet dog that I had for nearly 15 years.  (He lasted a lot longer than the boyfriend – ha!)  However, Garth had epilepsy, which I first discovered when he was about a year old.  For the rest of his life, I gave him Phenobarbital twice a day.  I always suspected that because Garth was a purebred from an unknown “backyard” breeder, he wasn’t as strong genetically as the other dogs I’ve had.  Even so, I loved him dearly, just like all my other dogs.


I don’t mean to knock purebreds.  All types of dogs and cats – purebred or mixed breed – can make wonderful pets.  Just remember that if you are looking for a purebred, an animal shelter is a great place to look.  Another good option is a breed rescue group, like Southeastern Greyhound Adoption.  It’s even possible that a purebred pet will find you.

Robert and I went running the day after Christmas in 2005.  Our route took us on a dirt road near our house.  Over to the side we noticed a small, nearly starved beagle.  She was skin and bones.  She was probably a hunting dog that got lost, and she wouldn’t have lasted much longer out there.  We took her home and began nursing her back to health.  Because we had found her on the second day of Christmas, we thought about calling her Turtle, as in turtledove.  Then, a friend suggested Shelly, as in turtle shell.  Perfect!

We started asking around to see if anyone wanted a beagle.  Robert and I really weren’t looking to adopt another dog because we already had two greyhounds.  However, when our (halfhearted?) efforts to find her a home didn’t pan out, we decided to keep Shelly.  Maybe it was meant to be; she came into our lives just a couple of weeks after Garth died.

When we found Shelly, she weighed about 14 pounds.  Soon she regained her strength and vigor, rebounding to a healthy 20 pounds.  She has been a terrific dog!

Shelly when we found her

Happy, healthy Shelly!

Shelly probably would have gone to our local animal shelter if someone else had found her – in time.  Even if she had gone to the shelter, she may not have been adopted.  Give orphaned and abandoned animals like Shelly a new lease on life.  Let’s make animal shelters the number one choice for companion animals.

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