Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Paw it Forward: Spring to Live February 2, 2013

It probably surprises no one that I am a lover of spring and an admirer of 1800s poet Christina Rossetti. She was a lover of life, words and any combination of the two. “Spring is when life’s alive in everything,” she once said.

I love life, so I love spring. The resulting words are ones of appreciation for what happened today. Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow in Pennsylvania this morning and he didn’t see his shadow. Halleluiah! That means spring is coming early this year!

What better way to celebrate the life in spring than to reflect on what it means to us? A favorite author of mine Mark Twain believed life is best lived for a reason. “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living,” he wrote. “The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

With that I find myself reminded of the world that isn’t always as positive  as the lenses through which I choose to see. I’m reminded of the commercials (you know the ones) with the melancholy melodies, forlorn faces and tear-jerking thoughts illustrating the unfortunate struggles of beaten, abused and neglected animals. I’m reminded of some terrifying facts, which I have decided to share with you today.

Of the 5 to 7 million companion animals who enter animal shelters in America every year, 3 to 4 million are euthanized, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).  APSCA also suggests it is impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States; estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.

What I gather from these statistics is there are millions of animals a year that are killed because they have no one to take care of them. As a former shelter dog, I know what its like to live without people involved. As if that’s not bad enough, getting euthanized because the shelter couldn’t afford to care for you anymore? That is absolutely devastating. What a terrible way to go.

I know I’m lucky to have found my forever home, but this renewed appreciation for all of life’s details reminds me of the importance of paying it forward. My brothers and sisters in canine and feline homelessness deserve to find a life as blessed as mine. So I find myself wondering how someone as little and insignificant as me can help make that happen. I pay it forward by  being aware of the resources that bring revitalization and life to the world.

Spring Forward

Be a voice for the speechless. Every donation means something to these special organizations.

Globally – There are a ton of organizations out there raising awareness of animal rights, fighting animal cruelty and promoting a better future for all those who deserve it. The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is one of the well-known organizations that is working to defend our rights and promote adoption.

Nationally – As appreciated as the work of ASCPA may be, there are a lot of other (much less known) groups out there making a difference in the lives of animals. These groups need your help just as much (if not more) to make a difference. Among them is the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, which “aims to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures.”

Locally – Your local humane societies need your help. I came from the Oshkosh Humane Society. I wouldn’t trade my forever home for my room at the shelter, but I am genuinely thankful for the life I had there. The people cared for me like no one ever had, which made an otherwise scary time that much easier.

Be a home for the homeless. You won’t regret it. Cats, dogs, and other animals alike, we have hearts that love bigger than the world.

Do you feel like embracing spring in a way you’ve never experienced? Bringing a new life into your home is one of the best ways to bring refreshment and renewal to your life this spring. For me, the Oshkosh Humane Society was my train stop before I found my forever people. Where is your companion animal waiting for you?

Spring is a time for fresh starts and renewal. Why not pay it forward this spring by offering a new life to someone in need?


My answer? I sleep smiling December 29, 2012

I saw one of those humane society commercials on the moving picture window today. You know the one…melancholy melodies, forlorn faces, and tear-jerking thoughts illustrating the unfortunate struggles of beaten, abused and neglected animals. If dogs could cry, I would have been bawling like a baby (my mom sure did).

Instead, I did what I always do when animals make an appearance on what my mom calls the television…I whined my most heartfelt of whines and even barked a little bit. (I don’t ever bark, except when animals show up on the television). “I will be the answer at the end of the line. I will be there for you while you take the time,” Sarah McLachlan swoons in the background of the commercial, “…Cast me gently into morning for the night has been unkind. Take me to a place so holy that I can wash this from my mind…”

I’m no stranger to beatings, abuse and neglect. I’ve endured the pain of being kicked to the side and whipped with a leather belt for going outside inside…even though I tried my hardest to hold it for four days without being let out. I’ve felt the misery of being discarded on the side of the road with no place to go, and more importantly no one to love me. I’ve wandered the streets in the freezing cold Wisconsin winters searching for shelter.  I’ve served time behind bars and cages. I know beatings, abuse and neglect. And it breaks my heart to see such a stark reminder that there are so many animals starving, without homes, or worse – in abusive, unloving or neglectful homes.

Its the kind of thing that I occasionally have nightmares about…images of my past haunt me, but thinking about those who live that horror in the present makes me realized how blessed I am. After everything I’ve lived through…the lyrics of the song in that commercial… “the memory of choosing not to fight”… .I sleep smiling because my parents gave me the best gift I could ever have asked for – a loving home. I found my answer. What’s yours?