Caroline Golon is a busy mom of two young girls and two rascally Persian rescue cats living in Columbus, Ohio. She’s passionate about animal welfare and creating happy households with both kids and pets. She’s a regular contributor toVetstreet.comand other pet-centric sites. You can read more about Caroline’s adventures with kids and pets at her site,Crayons and Collars.
School’s out! At first, the summer months seem to stretch out before our family as an endless opportunity for fun. Once the novelty has worn off, the dreaded words, “I’m bored!” start to emerge. Parents: have no fear. Read on for a few creative ways to keep your animal-loving kids occupied:
Collect Donations for Animals Turn your kids’ free time into a positive for animal shelters or rescues. One easy way to assist is to hold a donation drive and, with your supervision, collect supplies from your neighbors. Shelters use lots of items like old sheets and towels, empty toilet paper rolls, milk jug caps, newspapers and empty plastic water bottles to line cages, clean up messes or make DIY dog and cat toys. Use the ASPCA’s database to find an animal shelter or rescue group in your area.
Walk the Dog A great regular chore for kids during the summertime is walking the dog. Even if your kids are too young to walk the dog themselves, they can still come along. Walking the dog is good exercise for everyone, and you can make this activity even more fun by using a pedometer to count steps, or by downloading mobile apps that earn money for shelter pets each time you take your dog out for a stroll.
Write Stories about Your Pets Challenge your child to write and/or illustrate a biography about your pets—including details about where they came from, their favorite things and more. If your kids are really into the challenge, ask them to imagine what adventures your pets might like to go on. You might be surprised at your child’s willingness to write about a subject he or she loves.
Read to Your Pets Along with practicing their writing skills by writing stories about their pets, kids can practice their reading skills with their pets. Challenge your child to read a book (or more!) a day to your dog, cat, hamster or goldfish. Keep track of the number of books they read to your pet and consider creating a reward system to encourage them to continue.
By helping your kids feel excited about activities involving their furry friends, they (along with your pets!) will stay happily busy all summer long.
Every animal in the world has the right to live without fear of being hunted, tortured or abused. In our own homes, so many of us treat our pets in the same way we treat our children, and they are considered to be part of our families. Like children, pets need our protection. They are fully dependent on us for food, good health and safety.
My hope is that society realizes animals need our protection and that we work together to ensure that animals are treated with care, become vigilant about animal abuse in any shape or form and punish those who harm animals. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.
We can each do something to make the life of an animal better. Here are some ways to help animals right now:
Report Animal Abuse Reporting animal cruelty is vital because animals cannot help themselves; it is our duty to step in.
Adopt From a Shelter Most pet store puppies come from puppy mills and every time we patronize a store that sells puppies (even if we only buy food or pet accessories), we help fund puppy mills where mothers and puppies are bred and often kept in filthy and devastating conditions. There are countless pets waiting to be adopted at shelters in every state in our country. Visit the ASPCA’s Adopt section to find available dogs and cats in your area.
Support Animal Welfare Organizations There are so many organizations that do outstanding work to help animals and they all need our support. By donating just the cost of a few cups of coffee per month, you can help fund food, medical care and basic necessities for many animals.
Teach a Child to Love Animals Children learn so much from having pets. They also learn how to treat animals from their parents and family. When you teach a child that animals are beautiful beings that need our protection, you not only change the life of a child, but also of every animal that child encounters over a lifetime.
Volunteer Shelters need people to help, plain and simple. Most are publicly funded and just do not have the manpower needed to handle the large volume of animals they take in. You can walk dogs, clean cages and help prospective adopters. Every little bit helps when it comes to helping get homeless animals into permanent homes.
Speak Up Join animal organizations to help pass humane laws to help improve the lives of animals. Get vocal on Twitter and Facebook, join online groups and attend meetings in your area. When speaking with family and friends, let them know ways they can helps animals as well.
Keri Matthews, a mom of two, has worked in the ASPCA’s licensing department for more than five years. She lives on Long Island with her husband, Tom, her children, Gabriella and Tommy, and their Greyhound, Clyde.
This time of year, many of us are looking forward to the sunny, warmer and longer days ahead. Having more outdoor time with our pets benefits our whole family—we can’t wait to take our dog, Clyde for longer walks with our kids, Gabriella and Tommy. We also will be going back to the dog park, and the kids love to look at how Clyde interacts with “his friends.”
One of Clyde’s favorite things to do in the warmer months is to take a bath outside and dry off in the sun, lying in the grass with a bowl of water nearby. The kids love to sit in the sun on their towels and soak up the rays next to him! We’re also planning to take more trips to the pet supply store in the upcoming weeks. Our most recent trip was really fun—for the first time, Gabriella picked out a new treat jar for Clyde, and this got her more excited than even picking out Clyde’s treats. Tommy picked the treats this time and enjoyed carrying them around the store.
What are you looking forward to doing with your pet in the warmer months ahead? Please share in the comments!
Emily Schneider is a proud mom of two feisty Yorkies and a two-year-old in the Garden State. Emily works in media and public relations for the ASPCA. Find her onTwitter.
Brrrr: The temperature was in the single digits earlier this week! I don’t think I’m the only one who is tired of the frigid, cold weather. We’ve been hit by blizzards and freezing temperatures, and I struggle to keep my dogs outside long enough for them to use the bathroom—let alone keep my son preoccupied without having to turn on my automatic babysitter (i.e. the TV).
If you’re stuck indoors, baking is a great activity to do with your kids, and your pets can benefit as well!! I won’t pretend I’m a gourmet chef, but here is a simple recipe for homemade, cheesy dog biscuits:
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
1 cup quick oats
¼ cup margarine
1 cup boiling water
¾ cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons veggie stock
½ cup milk (dairy or soy)
¾ cup shredded Cheddar cheese (or other cheese)
1 egg, beaten
3 cups whole wheat flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix quick oats, margarine and boiling water in a large bowl. Let sit for a few minutes.
Stir in cornmeal, sugar, veggie stock, milk, cheese and egg. Mix in flour, one cup at a time, until the mixture forms dough.
Roll dough flat to a thickness similar to a notepad.
Use cookie cutter to cut out fun shapes and place cookies one inch apart on non-stick foil pan.
Bake 30-40 minutes in the oven until the cookies are golden brown.
Voila! That wasn’t too hard, was it? I recommend whipping up a few human cookies as well so both your two and four-legged kids are happy on a snow day.
And remember, if your pet has any dietary restrictions, always check with your veterinarian before you bake homemade treats. Enjoy!
Contest runner-up Margaret M.’s dog, Mango, pictured right.
Throughout the month of October, we asked readers to share stories about their family’s rescued pups in our Adopt a Shelter Dog Month Story Contest. We received hundreds of amazing submissions from readers across the country. With the help of our contest guest host, Mary Dell Harrington of the parenting blog Grown and Flown, we selected one grand prize winner and four runners-up. One of our runners-up, Margaret M., shared this story:
My husband is in the Navy and he deployed on September 10, 2001. He was on his way to Guam and his last words to us were, "Don't get a dog while I'm gone." After 9/11 happened, we needed something to love and to come home to every night, and two weeks later, we got Mango. We rescued her, and she rescued us. We are a military family, and she's lived in Gulfport, MS, Memphis, TN, Virginia Beach, VA, Jacksonville, FL, Washington, D.C. and now Norfolk, VA. She's about 15 years old—a Border Collie and Sheltie mix. She's my best friend. Currently, my husband is deployed once again. This time he's gone for a full year to Pakistan, and I'm all alone—except for Mango. I’m not sure what I would do without her.
We loved your story, Margaret! Stay tuned for one more winning rescue story to come next week.