February 9 through 15 marks Random Acts of Kindness Week. It’s a social phenomenon that’s been gathering steam over the last few years and has resulted in many local news stories about strangers doing good deeds and creating chain reactions of downright nice behavior. It’s a worthwhile week for sure, so how can dog lovers get in on the action and pay a nice thing forward?
Hers are 10 impulsive actions dog folks can take to get into the spontaneous spirit of Random Acts of Kindness Week.
If you already have to pick up pet food, why not throw a little extra in the cart and swing by a shelter on your way home? Some pet stores are helping people skip the second step by placing donation bins by the exit door. Just put your extra bag of food in the bin, and your good deed for the day is done.
Take a page from the book of the coffee buyers paying it forward in the drive-through line and offer to pick up the tab for the next person in line at the pet store. Maybe the person behind you is buying food for her dog instead of herself, or maybe they’ve got more than enough money in the bank and will be inspired to repeat your action. It’s a simple thing that can start a chain reaction of kindness or help a dog-human pair who really needs that paw up.
Did your friend just have a baby? Or maybe your neighbor recently slipped on the ice and threw his back out? Sometimes even the most loving dog owners are temporarily unable to get their dogs out as much as the animals need. If you have a friend nearby who is recovering from surgery or illness, maybe stop by his place during your daily stroll and ask if his pooch would like to tag along with your pack.
But what if you hardly have the time to walk your own dog? Consider then a quick and painless online donation during Random Acts of Kindness Week. It’ll take five minutes to log on to your favorite shelter or rescue’s website and hit the Paypal link. It doesn’t even have to be a big donation — a random five bucks is totally in the spirit of the week.
Anyone who has lived in a big city knows that sometimes homeless people have companion animals, and while some folks argue that the dogs would be better off somewhere else, plenty say the dogs are better off with their humans than in a shelter. This week, help those homeless humans help their dogs. You can make up some kibble doggy bags and take them with you on your commute. An extra large freezer bag full of dog food would be easily portable, and it could help sustain a homeless animal companion for at least a few days.
Sometimes dogs in need have a roof over their heads but need food in their bowls. Sudden financial difficulties such as a job loss can make it hard for people to provide for their pets, so many food banks accept dog food to help people and their pets get back on their feet (and paws). If your local food bank has a kibble kitchen, consider dropping off a bag or two. Donating bags of (sealed) dog food could mean the difference between a family staying together or sending a four-legged member to a shelter.
We’ve all been there — our pooch pauses to poop, and when we bend to pick it up, we find he’s not the first dog to have done his business in that spot. This week, be kind to the other dogs and people who use your park or route and pick up what the last dog’s human didn’t (or couldn’t, as who hasn’t left the house with one bag and needed two). If the idea of unknown dog poop freaks you out, maybe you could double bag your hand before bending down — and also carry hand sanitizer.
Maybe you’re feeling pretty flush with cash these days, but know someone who’s been struggling with an expensive medical issue for her pet. Why not call up the vet and ask if you can put $50 or $100 toward that person’s bill? You don’t even need to tell your fellow animal lover what you did. Alternatively, if your own pet has a vet visit scheduled this week, why not ask the clinic staff if they know any patients who could use a bit of a break? Your $20 could mean so much more to someone who really needs it.
If you don’t feel comfortable approaching the vet’s office with your offers of generosity, you can always make a similar impact online. The practice of crowdfunding for a pet’s medical expenses is common on sites like GoFundMe and FundRazr. If you’re wary about where crowdfunded money is actually going when you give to a stranger, you can turn to PetChance — a site that pays the veterinary hospital directly.
Get yourself some gift certificates for pet supplies and head to the dog park. You could drop the gift certificates on the ground or tie them to trees. You could hand them to people or put them on parked cars. If you really want to your act of kindness to be contagious and paid forward, you could even leave a little note on the gift certificate, explaining what Random Acts of Kindness Week is and how you and your dog are celebrating it. Hopefully your kindness will be infectious.
How are you celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Week? What acts have we missed? Let us know in the comments.
Read more stories about dog lovers involved in good causes:
About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.