Over the past few months, there have been numerous natural disasters that have ravaged different parts of the world. Weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall, Puerto Rico is still dealing with the aftermath. It’ll take years for places like Puerto Rico and Houston to rebuild after the several hurricanes of 2017. And this year has been one of the worst wildfire seasons that many places in the United States has seen, as there were several major wildfires that happened across the west coast of North America.
If you’ve been watching the news, you probably already know all of that. I know that trying to keep up with everything that’s happened with natural disasters and beyond has been overwhelming. But I wanted to write about some of the great stories that are in the news:
- Meet Frida the Mexican Rescue Dog Who Is Saving Lives in Natural Disasters – Aric Jenkins
- Hero sheepdog protects flock for 20 days in a Canadian wildfire – Sarah Birnbaum, PRI
- Smiley, a blind therapy dog, perfectly lives up to his name – Cameron Keady, HuffPost
- Smiley was an incredibly wonderful dog who worked as a therapy animal in Ontario, Canada. In addition to helping folks in his therapy dog days, he brought many smiles to those who followed his social media accounts. He recently passed away but he spent so much of his life helping people in so many ways.
- Amid the horrors of wildfire, a tale of survival and singed whiskers – Jennifer Schmidt, NPR News
- Therapy dogs help kids with trauma feel calm enough to tell their stories – Tracy Chevrier/HooplaHa, HuffPost
- Animals; Canine companions help people deal with disabilities – Wendy Aron, The New York Times
Reading about these wonderful animals is a great reminder about all the good that does exist in the world. And taking some time to just breathe and remember all the love and good that exists in the world is so important. If you want to take action to help other people and animals, there are so many things you can do.
- The most obvious is to donate time, resources, and/or money to a nonprofit that’s near and dear to you. That could mean setting up a monthly donation to a local food bank, collecting food and resources for a rescue organization, or if you’re able to, volunteering to walk dogs at a nearby humane society (something that could be incredibly beneficial for you and the dogs!).
- Foster a shelter animal if you can! There are so many foster based animal rescue organizations around the United States but even those with shelters need foster families for adoptable animals. These rescue organizations will also cover almost all the expenses for the foster animal and in some cases, hosting a rescue animal for a bit of time can really change that animal’s life.
- One great resource to learn more about fostering and rescuing animals from various viewpoints is check out the podcast Pawprint. They have almost 150 episodes of conversations with those work at and run rescue organizations and those who’ve rescued.
- Commit to doing small, random acts of kindness on a regular basis. That could mean anonymously paying for someone’s coffee at a coffee shop, clean up any litter you encounter, donate used (but clean!) towels and blankets to a local animal shelter, or donate books to your local library.
- Spend an afternoon helping to plant trees or at a Park and Rec work party. At least in my town, the Parks and Rec department has semi-regular work parties to help clear out invasive species or clean up part of a park.
To be honest, the reason I wrote this is because personally, reading all the bad news that happens all the time weighs heavily on me each day. I think it’s incredibly important to not turn a blind eye to all that’s happening but I do know that burnout can just destroy a person. Finding that balance between fighting for a better world and taking care of yourself is incredibly important and sometimes, taking care of yourself also means spending time with an animal.