Make a difference in an animal’s life (opinion) |

Make a difference in an animal’s life (opinion)

Niki Congero
Tribune Opinion Columnist
Chester is 5 months old. He is a fila-mastiff, pit-bull mix so he is going to be a big dog. Chester needs a family without children under 12 that is committed to taking him to training classes. He loves to play with other dogs and did not chase the cats that he met here..
Courtesy photo |

Happy New Year!

I like to start every year with this story — it is simple, yet meaningful, and it will hopefully remind everyone that they can make a difference.

When I’m having a bad day, feeling like what we do doesn’t matter or just isn’t enough, I re-read this story. It reminds me that as long as we keep trying and never give up, we are making a difference. If you have not read this short story yet, read it now — hopefully it will inspire you. If you have read it before, re-read it again as a reminder.


An old man was walking along an expansive beach one summer evening. In the distance, he saw a small figure running up to the water’s edge, throwing something into the sea and running back onto the beach. After watching the figure repeat this course for some period of time, the old man became curious about what was happening.

Eventually, he approached and found that it was, in fact, a young boy. The boy was bending down, picking up a starfish from the wet surf, running to the water’s edge and throwing it as far as he could back into the sea. When the boy returned for his next starfish, the old man stopped him and asked,”Young man, may I ask what you are doing exactly?”

The young boy replied, “I’m saving the starfish, mister.”

The old man looked around, and, noticing how many starfish were washed up this particular evening on the beach, said “But, young man, there are hundreds of starfish on the beach here, and thousands more along the coast. And this is just one beach among hundreds of beaches in this one small area …

“Surely you don’t think that you’re really going to make a difference by throwing one starfish at a time back into the sea?”

With that, the young boy bent down, picked up another starfish, ran down to the water’s edge and threw it, with all the strength that his little frame could manage, as deep into the sea as he could. When he returned, he looked up at the old man and, with a grin, said “It made a difference for that one.”

You can make a difference in 2016.

Hopeful Henry is a column managed by Niki Congero, executive director of Lake Tahoe Humane Society & S.P.C.A. Submit questions or letters via e-mail to or by mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. For more information, visit SocietySPCA, or

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