Best gift ever. Mike Schmid (CC)
Perhaps the nicest thing a dog-lover can do for canines in need is to help place them in loving homes. Even if you can’t take on another pet yourself, there are as many ways to help as there are displaced pups pouring through shelter and rescue-organization doors. And many ways to make a difference are as much fun for you as they are helpful to the dogs whose lives they help change for the better.
Dozens of benefit events scheduled in Northern California over the holiday season offer joyful ways to contribution to the cause. They range from silent auctions and holiday parties held in conjunction with “Home for the Holidays” adoption drives, to photo sessions, pet-food drives, craft sales and even a night of stand-up comedy benefiting Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation. (You’ll find a long list of holiday happenings on the events pages at DogTrekker.com.)
If you have items to donate to charity before the holiday season, consider giving them to one of the SPCA thrift stores that are springing up all over the state, from Sacramento, Davis and Roseville to Carmel and Burlingame. Merchandise—all donated—ranges from clothing to jewelry, furniture, kitchenware and the occasional vintage treasure. Sales benefit local dog charities—and who knows, maybe you’ll find some take-home goodies, too.
Pet Food Express, with dozens of retail outlets in Northern California, is known for its programs supporting shelters and rescue groups. Each year, it sponsors in-store photos with Santa, with 100 percent of proceeds going to regional pet nonprofits (look for schedules to be posted soon). Many Petsmart and Petco stores also hold holiday photo sessions, as do affiliate Unleashed outlets. A custom greeting-card portrait of your pooch, with or without Santa, is a special way to say “happy holidays.”
Another great way to support rescue organizations is through the calendars many of them create and sell. They make practical gifts that can be referenced all year long. Northern California Sled Dog Rescue, the Sacramento SPCA, NorCal Boxer Rescue, NORCAL Golden Retriever Rescue and German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California are among a growing number of organizations that have published calendars for 2015. (Google “northern California dog rescue calendars” to find many others.)
No time to get out and shop local? Go online instead for gifts that give back and make you feel as warm and fuzzy as your pooch at the same time.
Purchase from Helping Udders, and 10 percent to 50 percent of what you spend will go to a rescue organization that you select from a list of hundreds nationwide. The merchandise is nothing if not eclectic, ranging from moss-filled topiary frames in the shapes of more than two dozen breeds of dogs, to decals, bumper stickers, T-shirts and such.
We’re also partial to the indestructible Orbee-Tuff toys made in the U.S.A. for Planet Dog, a socially conscious company that donates 2 percent of its profits to support the training, placement and support of service dogs. At the Animal Rescue Site, a partner of Petfinder.com and the Greater Good Network, you’ll find tons of dog-themed merchandise and be gratified to know that every item purchased funds the value of at least four bowls of food for shelter animals in need. You also can give directly through the site to a variety of animal-rescue causes (and with a tax-free donation of $15 or more, shipping on orders of tangible goods is free).
Two more give-back retailers with four-paw ratings are Kuranda.com, where consumers can buy dog beds to donate to shelters; and Earthdog, a Nashville, Tenn.-based manufacturer of quality hemp products for dogs that donates 10 percent of profits to Kody’s Fund, a foundation supporting organizations with active spay/neuter programs.