If you could improve the lives of animals in five minutes, would you do it?
How about the life of a person?
Today’s your lucky day. Because you can do both.
Help Animals By Helping People
If you want to piss me off fast, just ask, “Why raise money to help dogs (cats, elephants, whatever) when there are so many people who need help?”
It’s not one or the other.
We’re all connected on this planet. And helping animals, really helping them, is good for people.
I was once asked to help two dogs. Helping the dogs helped their person.
And in the end, I was helped even more. Because I’ve been blessed to know all of them.
Today, I hope you’ll experience a little of that blessing too.
Can You Foster Two Dogs
Usually, we fostered puppies who needed to be away from stray dogs while their immune system benefitted from vaccinations.
We also fostered a few dogs with special medical needs. And some who were extremely fearful or who didn’t handle the shelter environment well.
But one day I got an unusual email asking if I could foster two dogs.
They weren’t dogs in the shelter. Instead, they belonged to a woman who had left a violent partner and dogs were not allowed in the domestic violence housing she was entering.
The local animal shelter had room to house the woman’s cat, temporarily. But they had no room for the dogs.
We arranged for the woman to come to our house with her dogs to see if they got along with Honey. And if they did, the pups would stay with us until their person found permanent housing for all of them.
I didn’t know what to expect.
Would the dogs get along with Honey? Would they have issues we’d have to deal with? What was their person like? And how weird would it be to take care of dogs that you knew belonged to someone else?
Making New Friends
Luckily, the meeting went great.
Honey immediately fell for the big, happy chocolate Labrador, Cooper. She wasn’t so sure about the Boston terrier, Bailey. Who wasn’t sure about Honey either.
But both girls loved the Lab and were willing to take turns attracting his attention.
The dogs’ person, Melissa, was great too.
She was gregarious and interesting. When I heard her story, I understood how deeply she loved her animals.
And how deeply they loved her.
Cooper, normally lovable and sweet, had been protecting Melissa from her boyfriend. I suspect that Cooper’s behavior helped Melissa make the difficult break from the person who was hurting her.
After the dogs moved in, Melissa would come by most days to visit them.
I had trouble keeping track of Melissa’s schedule between the three jobs she worked. But the dogs knew the sound of her car and went racing down the steps to catch the first glimpse of her coming up the stairs.
I will never forget the sight of Cooper jumping so high in excitement that his rear paws were more than two feet off the ground.
Once all three of the dogs (yep, Honey made it clear she’d be perfectly happy to climb into Melissa’s lap and stay there) recovered from their excitement, I got to know Melissa better.
And over the months the dogs lived with us, we all became friends.
Help The Dogs; Help Their Person
Did you know that 71% of all women with pets who end up in domestic violence shelters report that their abuser threatened, injured, or killed their pet?
Up to 40% of battered women report that they stayed in an abusive home because they didn’t want to leave their animals unprotected.
Because our local shelter routinely helped domestic violence victims, Melissa didn’t have to choose between her pets and safety. Helping her dogs, helped her.
Have you ever heard someone’s story and wondered if you’d ever be able to go through what they did without falling apart?
As I got to know Melissa, I learned what a strong person she was and is.
She worked most days and evenings with her three jobs, most hours at the hospital.
You Ithaca readers may remember a kind blonde you saw through a haze of sedation while you were getting your routine colonoscopy. Yep, that was Melissa. She was a technician at the hospital who helped patients cope with some uncomfortable and invasive procedures.
Melissa’s mom suffers from dementia. Shortly after Melissa moved into her own apartment with a friend, she moved her mother in as well.
In addition to her paid work, Melissa was the primary caregiver for her mom.
While keeping up with all her responsibilities, Melissa suffered tremendous back pain with residual problems in her neck, shoulders, arms, and legs.
Melissa has had two spinal fusion surgeries, hoping they would relieve her chronic pain. Unfortunately, she still suffers a great deal.
Her animals comfort her.
Cooper stays close by her side and helps her balance as she moves around the house.
Bailey and the cat are too small to help Melissa get around. But their presence is probably the best relief she gets from constant pain.
And yes, she still cares for her mom. Unable to work her job, Melissa who could use a caregiver is a caregiver herself.
I feel helpless do anything helpful for Melissa. We’re so far away.
I’d love to walk Cooper and Bailey for her so they could have some fun time she doesn’t feel up to giving them.
I wish we could visit and keep her company, since being at home in pain is so isolating and disheartening.
I’d love to buy Melissa a bed and frame that would help her rest more comfortably and that would be easier for her to get in and out of.
I wish I could afford to hire a caregiver who would be able to give more help to Melissa and her mom.
Heck, I’d like to trade just one of the 160 million dollar fighter jets that fly overhead every day and sink the money into helping regular people with their medical bills.
But there’s one thing I can do. And I hope you’ll join me.
How To Help Melissa, Cooper, and Bailey
Got five minutes? Because here’s how you can help some lovely animals and their people make life just a little easier.
Melissa has a Go Fund Me account to raise some money to help with her bills. In five minutes, you can help someone. And the biggest help is probably the encouragement to Melissa that she’s not alone.
You want to keep dogs out of shelters? You want to encourage responsible pet ownership? You to help people who put the needs of their pets ahead of their own needs?
Here’s your chance.
In a world of problems that feel too big to solve, you can help one family in a real way.
The way most crowdsourcing sites work, the person cannot take any money until they reach their goal.
If 500 people read this and gave $10 each, about the cost of a mediocre fast food lunch, Melissa would meet her goal and be able to manage just a few of her tremendous medical expenses and make her home more comfortable while she recovers.
And if you’re a long time reader, you’ve probably been amused by my fostering stories and pictures of Cooper (Mr. Handsome) and Bailey (Lil Punkin Butt). If you enjoyed them, can you give a little back?
So please join me in helping a person and her animals. Click over and make a donation to Melissa’s Go Fund Me page. And feel free to share.
Because if you love animals and want to help them, you’ve gotta help people too. We all need each other.