Dawn Armstrong
Special to the Tribune

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December 31, 2012
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Pet column: Looking back with gratitude, and forward with hope

Year end offers the opportunity to look back with gratitude, recognizing the compassionate, thoughtful people who have supported Tahoe's animals in need financially, spiritually and with precious volunteer time. This past year saw more partnering and collaboration to bring the humane message to Tahoe's children and young adults. "Keep Tahoe Kind" is not a simple signature. It calls for community action to create harmony between people and animals and each other.-

Looking forward, year end traditionally generates determination for better times ahead. New Year's resolutions can be made with animal welfare in mind. Simply reading the special animal days noted in the new 2013 Tahoe Pets Calendar provides inspiration. Every month there is a way to help animals or celebrate our relationship with them. On the lighter side, there's even a "Hairball Awareness Day." There's a national walk your dog day, week, and month - all inspiration to get out with our pets, staying healthy, bonded, and content together. Throughout the year, penguins, eagles, whales, polar bears and more are recognized along with companion animals. World animal awareness and caring has increased. The commemorations are a reminder of our place in a web of life and our responsibility to steward the common habitat we share.

The most immediate personal new year action any one can take is assuring that pets stay safe and comfortable in this bitter cold winter. Cold weather gear such as paw protection ointment, boots, pet jackets, the new reflective leashes and collars, and even life vests can be stored next to the door. It's time to check ID tags and microchip registry for updates or replacement. With heavy snow, Tahoe fences disappear. Lost pets run free, at risk on city streets and in the meadows. Severe weather means senior pets need special attention to make sure they can adapt to new physical limitations, just like senior friends and family. Pet bed heating pads and heated water bowels are in stock at pet stores and online. Pet and wildlife friendly snow melt and antifreeze products are readily available at hardware and variety stores.-

For every day of the year, here's a suggested personal kindness resolution list:

1. I will accept the unconditional love of my pet and honor it as something to emulate.

2. I will keep myself healthy so that I can provide mental and physical stimulation for my pet while enjoying the same myself.

3. I will monitor my pet's habits and will maintain an active relationship with my veterinarian so that he or she will be there when needed.

4. I will scrutinize the labels of toys, treats, food, and equipment to make sure they are safe for my pet just as I do for myself and my human family.

5. I will practice patience in my interaction with my pet, understanding that though we speak a different language we both respond most reliably to positive signals like praise, distractions leading to desired alternate behavior, and affection.

6. I will remember that I am the center of my pet's life and will plan ahead to provide for my pet should I become unable to care for him or her in the event of my illness or death.

7. I will model compassion and kindness to youth and influence the character of my community through my humane relationship with my pet.

8. I will demonstrate to others responsible habits such as picking up dog waste, leashing my pet - no matter how well trained or "friendly" - before others approach and when meeting horses, runners, or bicycle riders.

9. I will protect my pet by keeping him or her out of traffic, safely harnessed, and crated or tethered in a vehicle.

10. I will be grateful for the gift of life entrusted to me and will advocate for respect of all living creatures, domestic and wild, as key to living in harmony with nature and each other.

The 2013 Tahoe Pets Calendar featuring local pets in local settings is a new fundraising project for community animals in need. For information, call 530-542-2857 or click the pet calendar link at www.laketahoehumaneandspca.org.-

- Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help "Keep Tahoe Kind". Dawn Armstrong is the executive director.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Dec 31, 2012 07:03PM Published Dec 31, 2012 07:01PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.