From tiny actions come big things!

2012 was one tough year on everybody, including the dogs.

Shelters were down on their adoption numbers and the ranks of dogs dropped off to the shelters rose. This is one of the unforeseen consequences of a terrible economy. People can’t afford their animals.

During this embarrassing past election season, while partisans where screaming about such none issues as who put a dog in a crate on top of their car and who ate a dog when he was a child, the rest of us Americans, and their pets, suffered and limped through a the fourth year of a recession.

But hey, I’ve always been an optimist and with a brand new January comes a sense that this is the year things get better. And in turn, better for our beloved animals. The same animals that either prosper or suffer at our hands, but always, ALWAYS still love us unconditionally.

If you’ve been on the sidelines of animal welfare, seeing and reading what’s going on but that’s about it, 2013 would be a great year for you to help out. Many people start and stop by donating money, but there is so much more you can do to help. Let’s list them.

1. Donate money, time or materials to small, local, grass roots rescue groups that have been hit especially hard in this recession.

Of course they need money, but they also need folks to foster dogs in their homes while they look for adopters. Keeping the pups in a home environment, elevates the chance of them being adopted quicker because the dogs are relaxed and happy, which is usually the opposite of how they are if they sit in a loud, stressful kennel environment while waiting to be adopted.

Rescue groups also need dog food, dog treats, toys, beds, blankets, and medicine. In fact, just ask them what they need and I’m sure they will provide you with a list.

2. Comfort Dogs.

Volunteer to take your well trained, certified dog to hospitals, rehabs centers, old age homes, orphanages, any place where people need a few moments of happiness in a life that has grown increasing grim. You would be amazed how much this means to old folks as well as young. And as an added bonus, it makes you feel incredible.

3. Walk your dogs.

C’mon guys admit it, you barely walk your dog. I know it’s hard, but you owe it to your dogs and to yourself. In 2012, I started walking my pups regularly and the benefits have been pronounced. Max and Remy both lost about 5lb. and have never looked healthier. Max is 11 years old and can’t wait for his walk. Routinely, when he is near dogs that are 7, 8, or 9 years old, people think Max is the younger dog. And chubby Remy has a waist again!

As for me, with a sensible diet, I dropped 80lb., my blood pressure went from 130/90 to 119/66 and my resting heart rate has dropped to 47. The average is 60 to 90. 40’s is considered athlete territory. I also feel happier and healthier and I did this by walking 5 days a week with the hounds.

As an extra benefit, I’ve become known in my neighborhood as the dog guy. People stop to ask me questions about dogs and kids stop to pet Max and Remy. I use the time to talk about adoption, spay/neutering, kid safety around canines and good dog parenting. Pretty much a win/win for everybody.

4. Volunteer at your local shelter.

Spend a day, a week, whatever free time you might have at a helping out at a local shelter. Cleaning kennels, playing with the dogs, maybe taking them for walks. It ALL helps.

5. Okay, here’s the hardest one for some people to do, but also the easiest.

Stop criticizing every thing, every one, every organization that doesn’t do things 100% as you would do them. I know this seems out of left field, but this is the one thing that hurts the canine welfare world more than anything. The Dog Files has been around for five years and I’ve seen or felt this on numerous occasions. In fact, I have a saying that I tell everyone that has ever helped the Dog Files.

It’s All About The Dogs!

Yep, a simple yet powerful sentence. My belief is that if I didn’t work with a group unless our views and methods were 100% alike, nothing would ever get done. Nada. And then only one thing suffers. Dogs.

The internet is an incredible piece of technology and probably up there with fire and the wheel in it’s importance. But because we can go online and seek out people who completely share our views and build a fort around those views and fight to the death for those views, we may be missing out on things we can be doing to help dogs. To twist up a famous saying, we may be so intent on examining and criticizing the individual trees, that we are missing out on helping the forest.

Believe me, I have tons of friends in the dog world that have the exact opposite political views than I have. But when it comes to the doggies, we are lockstep in our beliefs and I value them as allies. They also know they can depend on me to help them out too.

6. Start a rescue group, foster group, non-profit organization, etc.

In 2013, I am excited and pleased to announce that the Dog Files will be starting a non-profit called, what else, the Dog Files Foundation. We have a two-fold mission that I developed by watching and learning about the dog welfare world over the past five years.

First, we aim to give grass roots rescue groups the support they need to thrive and continue to save dogs. I’m hoping DFF can help rescue groups adopt out more dogs than ever.

Secondly, we want to educate regular folks about why dogs deserve our love, care and respect and to help build animal empathy in children on a nationwide level.

If you would like to help, please join us at Dog Files Foundation and click “LIKE”. This way, as we make announcements over the coming months, you may see a way you can help.

And yes, you too can start your own group. My good friend, Linda Schiller started Eleventh Hour Rescue and has saved THOUSANDS of dogs. She’s a hero in my book and in the book of thousands of families who have adopted a pup from Eleventh Hour Rescue.

7. The Straw Man Argument.

And lastly, this is a personal pet peeve of mine, don’t listen to the pessimists out there that tell you, you are wasting your time helping dogs. If you work in animal welfare or support it, I know you’ve heard this.

“Why are you wasting your time helping animals, when children are dying?” or, “I’ll donate to animal causes when you donate to human causes!”

It’s a straw man argument that people use to win an argument. It’s nonsense. You didn’t say you don’t help humans, you just said you help dogs.

And here’s why it’s an ignorant argument.

You can do both.

And in fact, helping dogs helps humans. Over the years, I’ve seen so many people’s lives changed for the better because of the love that a dog has shared with them. Dogs make people happier, healthier and saner. They bring us comfort and help us deal with the tough parts of life. They bring people together. They protect us. They are one of the things in life that make it better by their mere presence.

Dogs and humans have had a sacred bond for over 20,000 years that no two other species have ever shared on this planet. I don’t know about you, but I have to believe there is a reason the dog is God spelled backwards.

And if those naysayers won’t go away, send them to the Dog Files where almost every story we post is about a dog’s positive effect on a human being.

And now it’s up to you.

Do we make a difference in 2013? Do YOU make a difference in 2013? It doesn’t have to be monumental. It can just be something small. You’d be surprised how something small can blossom into something gigantic.

An example? Ten years ago, I adopted a scared, skinny pup from the shelter. I named him Max, he changed my life and now I’m trying to make every dog as fortunate as Max and Remy and hopefully, enrich people’s lives in the process.

Please feel free to leave a comment below about what YOU plan to do to help dogs in 2013. Also, let us know your suggestions for other things people can do, that I may have missed. Together, things can and will get better for dog AND humans!

But hey, I’m an optimist.

Kenn Bell
Dog Files Creator