Are you sick and tired of hearing holiday music non-stop ever since Halloween? Me too. Tired of trudging for hours through the malls only to stand in line just as long, tired of haggling with relatives about who’s going to travel farther this year, of shelling out a few bucks for a photo of your dog on Santa’s lap only to have your dog pee on the jolly ol’ man? Don’t worry, there is hope for the holiday season.
Children. Two recent incidents really struck a chord with me — not only did they demonstrate just how much children can care about pets, but these stories are also eerily similar to a couple of events in my childhood.
As Itchmo reported on Thursday, nine-year-old Tommy Monahan died while trying to save his pets from a house fire. It was both heroic and tragic — heroic that he loved his pets so much that he risked his life for them and tragic that his compassion for animals would lead to his death. It must be difficult for some parents to understand why a child would risk his life over a dog, a lizard and a fish but I can tell you from first-hand experience that I would’ve done the same thing.
When I was nine years old my beloved dog Westie, Penny, bolted out the front door and ran down our driveway to the road. Fearing for her life I chased after her, almost certain that she was going to get killed by a car on the two-lane country highway that ran past our house. I caught up to her but she was too busy pursuing some unknown scent to bother listening to me (of course!) as she obliviously wandered into the roadway. I jumped out onto the centerline and held up my hands to stop traffic, by this point sobbing at the thought of losing Penny.
Imagine my mom’s shock when she saw me standing in the middle of the road alongside cars that zoom along at 55 mph! She dashed out to retrieve me and managed to grab Penny and herded us back inside the house. I was relieved that Penny was alive while my mom was likewise relieved about me. I was given a heartfelt lecture about how no child is worth a dog, yet I replied that Penny wasn’t just any dog — she was MY dog.
Luckily Penny and I were unhurt; sadly, Tommy was unable to save his pets or himself. He had started saving money to donate to non-profit animal groups - whatever amount he had saved up can hopefully be magnified by the very courage that tragically prevented him from making that donation. If Tommy inspired you, please consider making your holiday donation to an animal charity to honor Tommy. Not just Tommy, but all kids who understand the importance of pets in our lives.
Such as the 11-year-old girl I was lucky to meet last week who donated $50 of her own money to Vicky’s Pet Connection. Fifty bucks! All year long she had been allocating 10% of her allowance for charity. Finally she decided it was time to make her donation and I was there to witness Vicky’s jaw drop to the floor. This girl’s mother was deservedly quite proud.
Ironically, back when I was 11-years-old I did the same thing. After years of earmarking 10% of my allowance for charity I chose the Humane Society of Huron Valley — where my family had adopted the Sheltie-mix Gyro, our second dog — to be the recipient of my $25. (Apparently inflation is at work here; it took me several years in the 1980’s to save up half of what the young girl saved in 2007 alone!)
If young kids can see the benefit of donating significant portions of their income to pet-related charities, hopefully adults with deeper pockets can still see what these children understand. It’s probably impractical for your own household to contribute 10% of your earnings, but every dollar helps. In fact, even pennies can add up to huge donations!
Even if you can’t spare any money this year, I encourage you to take some time to think about what your pets mean to you, and more importantly, find out what those pets mean to your children. Chances are that pets are a HUGE part of their lives — so much that they would sacrifice an iPod Shuffle, a nice LEGO set, or even their own life.
If any of these stories inspired you, please share with us what impact they had. We’d also love to hear your own stories — feel free to tell a tale in the comments! Happy howlidays. :)
Photo: Flickr user bullmarketfrogs