So, how have we all been doing on our New Year's resolutions so far? Exercise more, stop eating chocolate, drink more water...As we settle into 2022, most of us have been thinking about those traditional New Year’s resolutions that, traditionally, only last about two or three solid weeks before completely being abandoned. Admittedly, I am just as guilty as the next person here! However, for the first time in my life, I made a New Year’s resolution two years ago that I was absolutely committed to keeping and actually followed through all year long! Additionally, this particular New Year’s resolution was one that has had a lasting impact and introduced me to Fetching Tails Foundation.
I resolved to do an activity each month to benefit local animal rescues and shelters. Not only was this resolution fulfilling, fun, and an exercise in creativity, but it was also completely doable for those who may worry about their means in which they may be able to contribute. Here’s a brief snapshot of my story, along with some tips on how you can help animals while successfully (and in my case, finally!) accomplishing a New Year’s resolution.
Tip 1: Start Small
After deciding on my resolution and feeling energized by the idea, I realized that I had no clue where to start! I did not have a lot of money to donate. I did not have much free time to consistently volunteer. I did not have the proper living establishment to foster. So, what could I possibly contribute to the cause of helping/saving animals? Well, as it turns out…A LOT! Looking back, I realize that my view on animal shelter/rescue work was quite limited in terms of the possibilities, but there are still folks that may think this way. My advice is to start small! In order to expand my view, I needed to learn more about these organizations and see what kind of volunteer opportunities existed. Some organizations, like FTF, make it so convenient with sections specifically dedicated on their website to the different ways that people can help. I began by doing some simple online research of local rescues and shelters and followed their pages on social media. This easy step goes a long way; soon, my daily newsfeed was flooded with wonderful ways to help out! Sharing social media pages and information with your own peers helps to get the word out, too. (If you are not following Fetching Tails’ Facebook page yet, there is no better time to start: https://www.facebook.com/FetchingTailsFoundation/).
Tip 2: Consider Your Normal Routine
For a while, I felt guilty about the lack of time that I could consistently volunteer. Between working multiple jobs, school/homework, family, etc., I never felt that I could responsibly commit to a steady schedule of volunteering, so I let this hold me back. My resolution encouraged me to look at my normal routine and find ways to incorporate helping animals. I usually try to exercise regularly, but little did I know that there are ways to also help animals while trying to stay physically healthy. Free apps like Walk for a Dog by WoofTrax not only motivate individuals to move around, but also raise money for rescues in the process. Just download the free app on your android or smartphone, select a rescue to support (Fetching Tails IS on there, FYI!), and start tracking miles every time you go for a walk. Such a simple incorporation into your daily routine helps motivate walkers to get outside even on the crummiest day because tracking miles on the app is good for both the user and for the greater cause of helping animals. And, if getting in shape is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, volunteer opportunities like dog walking with Fetching Tails can help you reach your goals. Walking dogs that are housed at the Fetching Tails Hut is a great way to work out, while also doing some good. To get started, just fill out a dog walker volunteer application form today!
Like many, I am also a frequent Amazon shopper. What I didn’t know was that a percentage of the money that I spend on eligible purchases can go to an organization of my choice through the Amazon Smile program. Talk about a win-win situation! (Yes, Fetching Tails Foundation IS an option on Amazon’s organization list.) In addition, I know that I have to go grocery shopping every week, so why not pick up a few items with each trip and drop them off at a different organization at the end of the month? Many rescues/shelters/animal hospitals even publish a list of “wish items” on their websites. I did these collection drops a handful of times throughout the year and with each donation drop, I would include a picture of the items along with a brief description of the organization that they were going to on my social media pages. Quickly, I saw a beautiful thing start to happen! Facebook friends, family members, and co-workers began giving me items to add to the monthly donation drops. Every time a co-worker or family member would hand me a brand new dog toy or a few cans of cat food, my heart would nearly explode. If nothing else, this resolution helped highlight the good humanity in people, their immense love for animals, and their generous willingness to help.
Tip 3: Donate Your Talents
Perhaps one of the greatest gifts that I received during my year-long resolution was the connection that I was able to attain with FTF. By chance, FTF was one of the rescues that I had organized a donation drop with; however, the encounter with the FTF volunteer who picked up the donation would lead to much more. Upon loading up the collected donations in the volunteer’s car, I handed her one of my business cards to share my contact information. The volunteer noticed that my card mentioned “Writing Specialist” and inquired if I was a writer. Naturally, I replied, “Yes.” She then proceeded to tell me that FTF was looking for writers to join their adoptable dog bio team and who I should contact if I was interested. Interested? Of course, I was! I reached out immediately and have happily been contributing to the adoptable dog bios and blog & foundation news ever since. Had that volunteer not offered up this information, I would not have even thought of writing as an opportunity to help out.
If you’re a crafter, see if local shelters/rescues are in need of some blankets for cages, snuffle mats, or perhaps even handmade items for an upcoming arts and crafts show. If you’re a builder and good with your hands, see if there are any maintenance needs that you can perform or outside dog shelters you may construct. If you’re a baker, contact rescues/shelters to see if they’d accept homemade dog treats. If you’re an excellent driver, donate your superb driving skills to help transport rescue dogs to and from vet appointments and their foster homes (they won’t mess with your radio stations either, unlike some passengers!) You catch my drift: Think outside of the box in regards to your talents and skills, and you just may find new opportunities that you never thought to consider!
Tip 4: Get Others Involved
As mentioned above, a resolution to help animals also helped illuminate the overwhelming generosity of other animal lovers. Sometimes, when trying to think of unique ways to support animal rescues, you really do get by with a little help from your friends (cue the song.) For this reason, I encourage everyone to look at their own contacts and consider the possibilities. One of the more rewarding monthly projects consisted of getting my fellow workout participants involved. I had noticed that my Zumba instructor always had a large, faithful following at every class. Knowing that she, too, was a dog lover, I reached out and asked if she’d like to help me collect new or gently-used towels for donation to a nearby animal hospital that was in need for pet cages, clean-ups, and post-surgery healing. To my excitement, my Zumba instructor jumped at the chance to help any way that she could, so I asked her to spread the word and I’d collect/donate the towels. Before I knew it, posters were made and hung, flyers were posted on her class Facebook page, and I was receiving bags full of towels during each workout class. In total, we collected over 90 towels that month! (Thank you again, Lucy Needham!) Another success occurred after enlisting the help of College of DuPage Learning Commons colleagues to raise funds for donation to The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago upon learning of their intake of 89 animals relocated from shelters in areas that were affected by Hurricane Dorian. Our goal was to raise (at least) $89 for the 89 animals being provided a safe haven. Not only did we meet our goal of $89, but we exceeded it with a total of $144 to be donated! It was so awesome to see the love of animals uniting multiple departments to accomplish this goal!
Tip 5: Have Fun Trying New Things
When trying to find new, creative ways to help rescue/shelter animals, you may end up surprising yourself by trying out new things you have never done before. While I like to be active, I never actually considered myself a runner and, by no means, someone that might register for a race. However, that is exactly what I found myself doing, along with a few family members and a friend, when we found a 5K dash for dogs with proceeds going to an animal shelter. We kept a quick pace rather than an actual jog, but we had many laughs along the way and a great time knowing that our quality time together was also benefiting animals in need. Another fun option may be trying your hand at crafting. I did this one cold, February day by inviting my best friend over (with the promise of wine and pizza) and we spent the day making snuggle blankets for donation to a local cat rescue to use in cages and carriers to/from adoption shows to provide comfort for the animals. A number of hours and numb fingers later, we made a total of 15 blankets for donation and had ourselves an unforgettable day together. If you’re up for having some fun trying new things while helping homeless animals, Fetching Tails offers a variety of fundraisers and awareness-building events on their website. Some of these include a 5K New Year’s walk/run, organized gatherings throughout the year at local breweries/businesses to raise funds and meet adoptable dogs while treating yourself to some delicious fare and beverages, and their annual formal gala.
Whether you are looking for an innovative New Year’s resolution altogether, or just trying to incorporate ways to help animals into your normal routine, there is no better time to start than with the promise of a new year. Helping and volunteering with an animal shelter/rescue (or multiple) is perhaps one of the most rewarding resolutions that you can make; one that you may be surprised to find can easily be accomplished and will likely leave you wanting more, well beyond reaching your initial set goal!
Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and safe new year to human and animal friends, alike!
Written By: Elyse P.