Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Boy & His Dog

A few months ago, I took over the role of donor relations for Heart of Texas Lab Rescue. This means that I get to collect the data from the donations we receive and have the opportunity to send letters to our donors thanking them for their gifts.

After a few months, you become familiar with the names of regular donors. Our donations allow you to sponsor a current HOTLR rescue pup, or honor a person or pup special to you. We also get many donations in memory of pups and/or people who have passed.

While each of the specially designated donations make me wonder and think about the people or pups who are recognized, none has fascinated me more than a monthly donation in honor and memory of Army Corporal Kory Wiens and Military K9 Cooper.

As, I watched the news this morning, the biggest story of the day was that after nearly 9 years, the war with Iraq is over. I watched as the American flag was lowered in Baghdad during the closing ceremonies. I watched as the last of the American troops boarded the plane for home. I watched as the statistics of the nine year war were posted - 4,487 dead, over 32,000 wounded, $8 billion spent.

It got me thinking again about Kory and Cooper. So, I googled Kory Wiens, and I found his story. And I read it. And I saw a picture of him with his yellow Lab. He was stationed in Iraq. On July 6, 2007, he was 20 when an IED killed him and his dog Cooper. His plans were to stay in the army just long enough that when Cooper's bomb-sniffing days were over, he could adopt her. They were buried together. Then my eyes filled with tears and I wept. I was grateful that this boy and his dog gave their lives for this country. I was grateful that someone in Austin, TX has not forgotten them and honors them every single month with a donation to HOTLR.

Today, I made a donation to HOTLR in honor of Army Corporal Kory Wiens and Military K9 Cooper. Kory and Cooper, I thank you and salute you. May you both rest in peace together forever.

During the hubbub of the holiday season, please remember to embrace those you love. Each day, remember to appreciate the love and Labs in your life. Be grateful for freedom and a safe place to live. Keep in your memories, those that have given their lives to keep these things safe for us. Remember Kory & Cooper.

Happy Holidays to you all from the folks at Heart of Texas Lab Rescue!! We could not save as many Labs as we do without the time, support and dollars from our volunteers, supporters and donors. A heartfelt "thank you" to each and every one of you.

Monday, December 5, 2011

To Give or Not to Give......That is the Question.

Many times during the gift giving season, dogs and cats are given to people as presents. Make sure the look of surprise on the face of your gift recipient is one of true pleasure and not horror. This can be a wonderful gift for the right person, but a terrible idea for someone else. Why wouldn't a pet be a perfect gift choice? Check out the reasons below to decide if your gift idea is really a good decision.

Consider that 5 million to 7 million cats and dogs enter into humane societies and shelters every year in the US. Of these, 60% are euthanized. Is the person you want to give a pet to really ready for the responsibility of pet ownership?

Anyone adopting a pet should first answer the questions below. If you are gifting a pet to someone, you must be able to answer these questions for them. Can you?

1) Is the person emotionally ready for the responsibility of a pet. Pets need a lot of care - every day for up to 15 - 17 years. Is the person you are considering giving a pet to ready to make sure that their new pet is fed and cared for every day for this period of time? Goes to the veterinarian for regular health checks? What about unexpected vet visits? Is the pet recipient ready to drop everything to rush to the emergency clinic on a Saturday night at midnight if necessary?

2) Along with the emotional responsibility of a pet, comes the financial obligation. Let's face it, caring for a pet can be expensive. There is of course the initial expense of pet, a bed, a kennel, a fenced yard or (safe place to stay when left alone), a health check, collar/leash/identification, spay/neutering of an intact dog, vaccinations. What about puppy behavior classes or adult dog training classes?

Then the ongoing costs. Annual vet visits, medications like heartworm preventative and flea and tick prevention, an emergency vet fund for unexpected illnesses or injuries. Consider that an ACL tear (a torn ligament in the knee), a common injury in young active dogs, can range from $1200 to $3000 to repair. If the dog has a complete tear of the ligament, the dog will be unable to bear weight on the leg and will be lame. Probably not an injury he/she should live with for the long term. Can the person you are considering afford the expense of a pet?

3) Time commitment. How much time does it take to care for an animal? It is recommended that a dog get at least an hour of exercise every day. How long will the dog be left alone during the day? Will there be sufficient opportunities for bathroom breaks? The days of happy hour after leaving the office are over once you bring a dog into your home. Animals left alone for hours on end can become destructive due to boredom, both to the home and the yard. Is your person ready to commit the time to a positive relationship with their pet?

What about vacation and travel? Where will the dog or cat go when people leave town? Pet-sitters, boarding facilities, family or friends that can "baby-sit". All of this must be taken into consideration when getting a pet.

4) Finally, do you want to rob somebody of choosing the perfect pet for themselves. HOTLR meet 'n greets are set up so that the whole family is required to be present. The look of joy when the right dog finds the right family is priceless. This is the best way we can insure that both the family and the animal is truly committed to each other. Can you really choose a forever companion for your friend or family member? It's kinda like choosing a spouse for them, don't you think? You wouldn't do that would you?

We think the best gift you can give this Christmas, is the opportunity for the pet lover in your life to choose their own pet. So, how about buying a dog bowl and wrapping it up as a gift for your friend? Create a little certificate or note in there to tell them you'd like to help them find a furry soul mate. Then let your friend or family member take it from there....

This week's blog is not meant to bring you down, or shoot a hole through a beautiful idea. It's just meant to give you some points to ponder. We know that you don't want your gift to be one of the 7 million that could end up in a shelter next year. So, think carefully before gifting a pet for the holidays.

If you know someone interested in adopting a Labrador, please refer them to Heart of Texas Lab Rescue. We have lots of wonderful dogs available and waiting for their forever homes.
Don't forget to join us at Barnes & Noble gift wrapping session. It's great fun and a wonderful way to spread the word about HOTLR. Sign up now!!!