This holiday season, homeless pets across the nation are receiving much-needed holiday meals thanks to to Freekibble.com and Ellen DeGeneres’ natural pet food company, Halo, Purely for Pets. DeGeneres, who co-owns Halo, Purely for Pets, has teamed up with 17-year-old Freekibble.com founder Mimi Ausland to launch the third annual Holiday Kibble Drop.
During the Holiday Kibble Drop, 500,000 meals of all-natural Halo Spot’s Stew will be delivered to pets at 65 shelters across the country.
Founded by Ausland when she was just 11, Freekibble.com has donated more than 11 million meals to shelters and rescues since 2008. Each day, its website features a new trivia question. Every time visitors answer a question, right or wrong, they earn 10 pieces of kibble for homeless pets.
Helping homeless pets find their forever homes is a cause close to DeGeneres’ heart, too.
“Pet adoption is something I’m extremely passionate about,” DeGeneres says. “I believe that by working together, we can find good homes for the millions of homeless and abandoned pets out there.”
Shopping at Target this holiday season? You’re in luck! For only $1, you can purchase an ASPCA-branded pet toy. From festive ropes to plush stockings, these treats are sure to add some merriness to your pet’s holiday. And with 2-3% of each purchase going back to the ASPCA, you’ll feel pretty jolly, too.
When I was a child, my sister and I hung up our Christmas stockings on the same wooden doorway in the dining room each year. Once our stockings were up, we’d place our dogs’ stockings right next to them. I continued the tradition with my own kids, so we hang our Mom and Dad stockings next to our daughters’ and son’s stockings, and then we begin the process of hanging the pets’ stockings. If you walk into our living room in December, you’ll see 10 stockings in total and you might think we have an enormous family; two of them are for each of the dogs and three are for each of the cats (shhh, the frog, fish and turtles don’t get their own stockings!)
It’s a little extra effort in a home when Santa comes to all the children and pets. Many a late Christmas Eves have been spent filling stockings with goodies, including toys, rawhides and catnip, but it has all been well worth the effort, partly because many Christmas mornings have been spent speculating what Django and Hayley thought of Santa since they are really the only ones in the house who knew for sure what he looked like in person. And then it’s off to inspect the stockings to see what Santa left behind for Hayley, Django, Baby, Lily and Cloe. The joy on the children’s faces is always a delight. I hope it is a lasting memory that they will keep and share with their own children one day.
Django was the last pet to get her own stocking after we adopted her in November 2010. We excitedly made room on the wall for our new pup as I recalled making a new stocking for each child and furry family member throughout the years.
Our dogs may not talk but they certainly provide comfort and love to all of us. From Hayley’s restorative bond with my daughter to Django’s insistence on lying with me (and sometimes on me) when she senses that I am down in the dumps, our dogs are a definite part of our family. We would be a different family without them. Yes, we’d have less fur and chores, but we’d also have a whole lot less love.
Wishing you and your family (human and furry) a wonderful and warm holiday season!
Guest blog by Mary Dell Harrington, co-founder of the parenting blogGrown and Flown
Our youngest child, now a senior in high school, used to beg for her own dog. Whenever asked what she wanted for Christmas, the answer was always “a puppy.” Knowing that a calm and predictable schedule is necessary for a pet to become acclimated to a new environment, we never granted this wish. Further, for years, we resisted her pleas for a puppy of her own until she became old enough to manage the dog it would become.
My husband and I discovered a different way for her to spend time with puppies without taking on the responsibilities of ownership. The Guiding Eyes for the Blind (GEB), an internationally accredited guide dog school in Yorktown, New York, has a need for volunteer “puppy socializers.” After being accepted into the program, my daughter and I spent an afternoon at the GEB where we learned our new responsibilities: feeding, walking, cleaning up after and loving a pair of six-to-nine week old Labradors in our home. It was a volunteer match made in heaven for our little girl!
In the decade since, we have hosted more than a dozen pairs of puppies, mainly during the summer months and holidays when our daughter had the time to help with their care. Climbing into their fenced space, she would hug each new puppy, playing with both and often holding one until he fell asleep on her lap.
But she has also felt puppies chew on a finger and listened to them yowl. She has walked them in the back yard, bringing them inside to see them soil freshly laid newspapers. She has learned much, not only about dog guardianship, but also about the commitment required to be a volunteer.
As I think back on holiday gifts past, I believe that one of the most enduring presents our daughter received was not delivered on December 25. Instead, she discovered a volunteer role that allowed her little girl love of puppies to blossom into a mature dedication to others in need.
Mary Dell Harrington, a graduate of the University of Texas and Harvard Business School, began her career in the media where she worked for NBC, Discovery and Lifetime. Most recently, she and Lisa Heffernan co-foundedGrown and Flown, a parenting blog that looks at the entire arc of family life from the point of view of moms with kids 15-25. Their writing has appeared in Huffington Post, Atlantic.com, PBS Next Avenue and Lifetime Moms. Along with her chocolate Labrador partner, Moose, Mary Dell is a certified Pet Partners animal therapist and volunteers for New York-Presbyterian Hospital in that capacity.
Guest blog by Diana Wegner, mother of teen actor and founder of Kids Against Animal Cruelty Lou Wegner
I knew from the start that my son Lou had a way with animals. As a toddler, he looked after our rescued Dalmatian, Belle. Lou would don his knight’s costume and dress Belle as his princess. He would say, “Belle will be safe always” as he wielded his plastic sword.
At age three, we enrolled Lou in Jack Hanna’s Summer Zoo Experience. Over eight summers, he learned that education, kindness and responsibility were key to saving animals on the brink of extinction. He learned about conservation, preservation and ways to get involved.
He also spent two summers at the Ohio Wildlife Center, gaining hands on experience with coyotes, hawks, deer, snakes and other wildlife in rehabilitation that had been injured by cars or intentionally harmed. It was there that Lou saw animal cruelty firsthand.
When we moved to Los Angeles so Lou could pursue an acting career, he saw his first chance to make a difference. Lou discovered that shelters in Los Angeles were extremely overcrowded, and animals were euthanized to make room for many others to come.
Lou was devastated. He took to the streets on weekends with friends and held signs promoting animal adoption and spay/neuter. Photographer Patsy Dunn and actor Sam Dobbins interviewed Lou as he held a sign that said, “Kids Against Animal Cruelty.”
A friend suggested that Lou take the name to Facebook, and Kids Against Animal Cruelty (KAAC) was born. The organization started with 42 members, and has grown to more than 20,000 members with an additional 50,000 in partner coalitions.
KAAC spread across the country, and through the power of social media and teamwork, has helped save thousands of lives. Lou has been a guest on CNN and featured in the Huffington Post, the Washington Post and more than 300 other news publications. Lou has recruited teens to run 15 state chapters, with a goal to have chapters in all 50 states. Bringing awareness to the plight of shelter animals and promoting adoption, spay/neuter and pet responsibility are the main goals of the organization.
Recently, ASPCA Corporate Sponsor Subaru hosted a fundraiser created by Abana Jacobs, Subaru Promotions & Sponsorship Specialist for KAAC, at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Los Angeles. Participants ran more than 5,000 laps around the 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid, and Subaru donated $1 for each lap around the car.