Archive for Kelly

Foxtails — Danger is Not Just for Outdoor Pets

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Foxtailssneaker23As if there isn’t already enough to think about when you have a pet you love, there are things like ticks and foxtails. And believe it or not, it may not matter whether or not you have an indoor only pet. If you are a hiker, work in an outdoor environment or, like me, ride horses, you are potentially exposing your pet. Any time you walk into your home, you bring a little part of where you were with you. So don’t just write off this article thinking that it doesn’t pertain to you.

Foxtails, even though they are not as gross as ticks, can actually become more serious faster if not removed before it breaks the skin. If you find one, get it out of their coat as soon as possible. If it has broken the skin, it’s time for a trip to the vet. Here is what I found from Vetinfo.

Foxtails are grassy plants that usually grow only in states west of the Mississippi River. These plants are common weeds that have spiky barbs which can cause significant damage to a dog’s body. Not only can the sharp barb cause pain as it enters a paw, an ear or a nose, but this weed is particularly hard to remove due to barbs that resemble that of a fish hook. If the barb gets stuck in the skin, it can lead to infection and abscess, which can potentially be fatal.

Identifying Foxtails

Foxtails are appropriately named since the plant resembles the tail of a fox. A Foxtail seendsseed may be spiny with barbs and can easily embed itself into a dog’s paw. If your dog has been outside, carefully inspect the skin and especially the paws between the pads, for evidence of foxtails.

If you see a foxtail seed or spur, carefully pull it straight out making sure not to break off any portion. If a foxtail has become embedded in the paw, the dog may walk with a limp, cry, wince or whine from pain, or begin to show signs of an infected lump in the area. Dogs that appear to have entered a patch of foxtails may benefit from shaving of the hair. It’s important to remove all of the barbs, even those that are especially tiny.

Complications from Foxtails in Dog Paws.

Foxtails can cause serious infection if they aren’t removed or if they are left untreated. The best way to prevent problems is to keep dogs carefully groomed and possibly keep long-haired dogs trimmed in the summer. When hiking or walking, keep your dog away from weeded or wooded areas, and always carefully inspect the dog when it comes in from any outside exercise.

In most cases, a foxtail will push inward through the paw or other areas and create a localized abscess that may become infected. Untreated infections can spread throughout the body and cause significant problems with internal organ functioning and may cause death. In more severe cases, a foxtail spur may continue to travel through the body, as the dog maneuvers, and can tear tissue as it goes. It may move in such a way as to puncture organs, cause internal bleeding or even enter the brain.

Removal of Embedded Foxtails

Once foxtails have embedded themselves between the toes of a paw, in the eye, ear, nose or anywhere beneath the skin, it’s not recommended to attempt removal at home, especially if infection has set in. You may be able to purchase over-the-counter antibiotics, or use homeopathic or natural remedies to ease the pain and cut down on spread of infection, but you must have a professional attempt to remove the foxtail from beneath the skin.

Attempting to remove it on your own may cause even further damage and pain for the dog. A veterinarian may need to perform minor surgery or can take advantage of special tools for removal of foxtails.


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How to Safely Remove a Tick from Your Pet

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For the life of me, I can’t think of any reason in nature that ticks would be necessary, but they are here and carry diseases that can create another whole set of problems that I’m not going to cover this time. Suffice it to say that I check both myself and my dog every time we go for a walk on the trails.

When I first got Dieter, before I knew him as I do now, he got a tick on his muzzle. I felt so guilty for not noticing it there much earlier. It was already the size of a small peanut. I had heard in the past to put a hot match on them, or alcohol and a number of other methods which will not safely remove a tick. What I did find is that there is a lot of info out there on how to do it safely. I followed these simple instructions from Doctors Foster and Smith

Check your pets for ticks after a walk

To safely remove an attached tick, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or special tick removal instruments. These special devices allow one to remove the tick without squeezing the tick body. This is important as you do not want to crush the tick and force harmful bacteria to leave the tick and enter your pet’s bloodstream.

Grab the tick by the head or mouth parts right where they enter the skin.

Grab the tick by the head or mouth parts right where they enter the skin. Do not grasp the tick by the body.

Without jerking, pull firmly and steadily directly outward. Do not twist the tick as you are pulling.

Safely remove a tick by pulling slowly straight out

Using methods such as applying petroleum jelly, a hot match, or alcohol will NOT cause the tick to ‘back out.’ In fact, these irritants may cause the tick to deposit more disease-carrying saliva in the wound.

After removing the tick, place it in a jar of alcohol to kill it. Ticks are NOT killed by flushing them down the toilet.

Clean the bite wound with a disinfectant. If you want to, apply a small amount of a triple antibiotic ointment.

Wash your hands thoroughly.

Please do not use your fingers to remove or dispose of the tick. We do not want you in contact with a potentially disease-carrying tick. Do NOT squash the tick with your fingers. The contents of the tick can transmit disease.

Once an embedded tick is manually removed, it is not uncommon for a welt and skin reaction to occur. A little hydrocortisone spray will help alleviate the irritation, but it may take a week or more for healing to take place. In some cases, the tick bite may permanently scar leaving a hairless area. This skin irritation is due to a reaction to tick saliva. Do not be worried about the tick head staying in; it rarely happens.


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Pet Doors

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Over the years I have spent a small fortune on pet doors. Many shapes, sizes and brands have come through my home. This article is based on my personal experience and opinion of the several I have owned.

First of all let’s talk about whether you would or should have a pet door. There are many situations where a pet door can be convenient but, as with everything else as a pet owner, you must be responsible with your pet and what your pet does. For example, a dog that tends to go out and bark in the middle of the night may need to be locked in at night or you will have angry neighbors.

I had a friend who lived in an apartment with two cats and two roommates. The cat box was in the shower of the downstairs bathroom. She wanted her cat to sleep with her in her room but, with roommates, felt uncomfortable leaving her door open at night. This meant having to get up to let the cat out to use the box in the middle of the night and then again when he wanted back in. Her solution? She went to the local home improvement store and purchased another door. She had her dad install a cat flap into the door and install the door into her apartment. Problem solved and the cat really liked the fact that he had access to the room any time. When she moved, she simply put the original door back and since the door fit her next place, she just did the same there too.

I started out with a simple flap door when I first lived with my mom in Whittier. It was mounted into the door in the back porch. I had a very busy nine-pound terrier mix. She was in and out all day long. The flap door worked great. Because she chased out any and all animals from the yard, I had no worries about leaving it open all the time. After she passed, I didn’t get another dog for many years.

Then I got Asia after moving to Walnut with my brother. She was just nine weeks old. After she got a little older, we installed a screen door flap allowing her into a fenced back yard. She just thought that was great. Problem was, she would hit that door at a full run and the screen just could not take that kind of use. Within a few weeks we had to remove it and re-screen the door. 

We then purchased a sliding door panel with a pet door built in. That worked great for many years with only one baby possum getting into the house. Then, one fateful night, Asia discovered why you should leave skunks alone. Oh yes, she got sprayed and proceeded to run through the house in a panic. My brother caught her quickly and bathed her in the traditional methods, but the smell was with us for several weeks. Unfortunately, there was not much that would have prevented the incident, but it was still worth having the door for her.

When it came time to replace that door, we decided to get our first electronic pet door. The first one we had was a regular flap door that had a locking mechanism that was triggered by a controller warn on the dogs collar. This worked fairly well for about six months. The door stopped unlocking, trapping her inside. My brother tried fixing it several times, but eventually we just left it in the open position and forgot about it. When that door wore out, we tried another brand that worked on the same principle. It worked for about the same amount of time and then eventually quit too. When I moved back in with my Mom just before my Dad passed away, she could use the old door that was in the back porch. Though it was small, she managed just fine. 

Now, when we moved to Northern California, into the mountains, that was a different story. Here we have squirrels, raccoons, possums, lots of skunks, deer, bears, and mountain lions. In fact I’m locking the dogs in at dusk right now Pet door 2because there was a mountain lion spotted across the street a few days ago. Here, I knew that if I were to install a pet door, it would have to be reliable. I got on line and started searching and found “High Tech Pet.”  They are based in Ventura, California. The door can be mounted into a door or wall. I picked the wall in my room next to an outlet for power.  This door works with a sonic collar, but where it differs from all other doors is, it’s not a flap. This door is a piece of bullet proof glass that opens like a guillotine, sliding up and down. Even better, you can get parts fairly reasonably. I have had it installed for a year and a half, and though I have had to replace collars, the door works great. I have just received a new speaker harness to replace inside the door. It lets the dogs out, but not back in. The wiring harness was quite easy to replace too. The initial cost of the door was a chunk, but for me and where I live, it is imperative that only my animals are allowed access.

Pet door 1

Pet door 3

All in all, I would recommend a pet door to anyone who has a safe place for their pet to get out to.

CAT Door SALE – Electronic Cat Doors, Selective Entry Cat Doors, & Cat Flaps. Low Prices & Free Shipping!


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Colic – The Call Every Horse Owner Dreads

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Probably the worst call you can get is for a sick animal. I got that call about my horse Sequoia on Wednesday of last week. I currently board Sequoia with Patti who called me and said she thought something was wrong with him. She explained how he had not eaten his pellets from the night before but he did eat his hay. My first and foremost thought with Sequoia is the big C word “COLIC!”

I asked if the water trough had been as low as normal and she thought for a moment and said no, there had not been as much water drunk, but it had not raised a flag for her. I told her I had gone through this with him many times before in summer. It gets really hot and he gets a little tummy ache and quits drinking the water needed to keep his gut moving, then he feels worse and it just escalates from there. I also asked if he was pawing the ground or kicking at his belly and she said yes. Though she did not notice him on the ground rolling, I already knew it was colic. He has done this almost every year since he was a baby when it gets really hot. I don’t know about you but when I get too hot I get a sour stomach. That is what happens to him and then he gets impacted, which is like having severe constipation. Ewe! 

Sequoia after drugs during treatment for colicThank god for Dr. Karlie who was there within an hour. After getting him sloppy drunk with drugs (she calls him a cheap date) she did a rectal and found a small amount of dry apples. But his heart rate was up, his breathing was elevated and he had a slight fever. So up his nose with a rubber hose, and down the hatch with over a gallon of water, mineral oil, something pink to ward off ulcers and another liquid to help break up the impaction. He seemed OK until the next morning, but then about noon all of the symptoms were back. I called Dr. Karlie back and he had to have another treatment. By that night, he had passed a couple of very shiny, loose plops. He was now over the hump. With Pattie’s help, we restricted his feed and wet everything for the first couple of days and he should be back to normal in a few days.

What is Colic?

Colic in horses is defined as abdominal pain, but it is a clinical sign rather than a diagnosis. The term colic can encompass all forms of gastrointestinal conditions which cause pain as well as other causes of abdominal pain not involving the gastrointestinal tract. The most common forms of colic are gastrointestinal in nature and are most often related to colonic disturbance. There are a variety of different causes of colic, some of which can prove fatal without surgical intervention. Colic surgery is usually an expensive procedure as it is major abdominal surgery, often with intensive aftercare. Among domesticated horses, colic is the leading cause of premature death. The incidence of colic in the general horse population has been estimated between 10 and 11 percent on an annual basis. It is important that any person who owns or works with horses be able to recognize the signs of colic and determine whether or not a veterinarian should be called. In my opinion, always. Your horse’s life could be in jeopardy if you don’t make a big deal of it.

Mild Colic

If your horse has mild colic, he will paw the ground repeatedly with his front feet. He may lie down and get up frequently and look at his belly. He may even attempt to bite at his abdomen.  A horse with mild colic will be less willing to respond to you. He may try and avoid being caught or handled. In most cases, mild colic passes within 24 hours but impaction and twisted intestines still need to be ruled out by a veterinarian.

Severe Colic

If your horse has severe colic he will likely throw himself to the ground and roll violently. He may lie on his back and stretch out his legs. This helps relieve the pressure in his stomach. He will not pay any attention to you or what you are doing. These horses are dangerous to work with and require a sedative to be handled safely.

When to Call a Veterinarian

It is important to call a veterinarian as soon as you suspect colic. An impaction or twisted intestine will be deadly if left untreated. You should suspect colic if your horse has any of the symptoms of mild or severe colic. Also suspect colic if you cannot hear normal gassy intestinal sounds and if you note that your horse has stopped producing feces. Feces that is unusually dry is also an early sign of colic. A horse with colic will have elevated respiratory and pulse rates. If your horse’s pulse goes above 50 beats per minute and his respiratory rate gets over 25 breaths a minute, call a veterinarian right away.

Prevention/Solution

Not all causes of colic can be prevented but there are some steps you can take to lessen the risk to your horse. Never overgraze pastures, and if pasture is unavailable provide a good supply of hay. Always make sure your horse has a fresh and plentiful supply of clean water. Keep to a regular schedule when feeding your horse and do not make any sudden changes in the type of diet you provide. Stick to a regular deworming program to prevent parasites. Keep all of your horses’ stalls and paddocks free from objects they might be tempted to ingest.

As pet sitters, both Ava and I are experienced in caring for livestock, including horses. Your sitter’s ability to recognize symptoms of illness while you are away can save your animal’s life.


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7 Things You Can Do to Stop Garbage Scavenging Dogs

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garbage scavenging dogReturning home to find that the family dog has found its way to the nearby trash can can be both frustrating and unnerving. This undesirable dog behavior creates unwanted messes that can be a tremendous source of irritation to the dog owner. Additionally, the behavior poses a threat to the dog who could ingest food that has gone bad or choke on something not intended for consumption. Fortunately, this age old problem comes with solutions that can be quickly and easily implemented to ensure that the garbage remains where it belongs — in the trash can!

Steps You Can Take to Stop Garbage Scavenging Dogs

Of course, the younger the dog, the easier it is to stop this. But here are a few ideas that may help with garbage scavenging dogs…

Drop several coins into a soda can. Seal the top of the can with duct tape.garbage scavenging dog When the dog approaches the trash can, shake the can aggressively at the dog. The unpleasant sound will keep it away. For the puppy, it becomes a scary place to avoid.

Place an indoor pet training mat in front of the trash can. When the dog steps on the mat it releases a harmless, but unpleasant static shock that will create an aversion to approaching the trash can. In the past, the safety and humanity of electronic devices has been questioned. However, present day electronic devices have made great strides in becoming a safe and effective means of dog training.

garbage savaging dogPurchase a trash can that locks shut. There are several companies that design locking trash cans with the purpose of keeping garbage securely in the trash can.

Install a snapping device, which is similar to a mouse trap except it has a large plastic flap that will keep the dog safe from harm. When the dog begins rummaging through the trash can, the device will snap shut. The dog will be frightened and reluctant to return to the trash can.

For indoors, you can spray some of your perfume on the can. I have heard that this can actually work.

You can also put some of that bitter apple spray on the outside, where he might touch it, if he still tried to get into it. Bitter apple is safe. You can get it at the pet store. It’s really most useful to stop chewing, but you might even set up a trap for him, with your current trash can, and put the bitter apple on some things in the top of the can. See if he is put off from the bitter apple.

Febreze makes a carpet spray that is supposed to get rid of pet odors. For some reason some dogs HATE the smell of it.


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4th of July Pet Safety Tips

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Are you aware that more companion animals go missing during the 4th of July4th of July pet safety tips than any other time of the year? It’s true, and as many as 75 percent of the pets that disappear during the 4th of July holiday are never found again by their pet guardians. The booms, bangs, lights and crowds common with fireworks are scary and stressful to pets. These unfamiliar noises can cause them to bolt, explaining why there are so many cats and dog disappearances during this particular holiday. 

Our 4th of July Pet Safety Tips

There are a few simple things we can do to protect our pets during the 4th of July.

  • First and foremost, make sure every pet has some kind of ID tag, and all identification on your pet’s collar and the information linked to the microchip are up to date.
  • Prepare ahead of time. Like keeping your dogs and cats inside the house, starting the day before when possible. That way you won’t be searching for them at the last minute. 
  • Keep windows and blinds closed during fireworks. Even small neighborhood fireworks, and those that can be set off in a backyard like Whistling Petes, can be extremely loud and even traumatic for animals.
  • If your pet is especially sensitive to loud noises, a good idea is to keep the television, radio or even air conditioners running to muffle the loud sounds from outside.
  • For outdoor pets, don’t leave your pets loose in the yard. Dogs and cats have been known to jump fences or dig underneath them when startled by the loud noises from fireworks. As long at the weather is cool enough, keeping your dog or cat secured in a garage will be the best way to keep them safe. 
  • Never bring pets to a fireworks display. Leashed dogs can easily get spooked and get away from their guardians. Even the most friendly dog in a panic can and will bite.
  • Never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can result in serious burns for curious pets and unlit fireworks may contain toxic substances.
  • Some dogs might respond to a product like the Thunder Shirt, which is a tight wrap that can make a dog feel more secure. If a dog is very afraid of loud noises, a veterinarian can prescribe a medication. Or you may choose one of many homeopathic remedies that can be found on line.

HAVING A BBQ OR PARTY?

During parties and barbecues, remind your guests to keep alcoholic beverages, chocolate, and items such as citronella candles and glow jewelry away from animals. When ingested, all these things can be highly toxic and cause stomach irritation, kidney or liver failure and possibly even central nervous system depression. 

Just remember to get your pets into a secure place like one of the suggestions above BEFORE the fireworks start. Make it a happy 4th for you and your pets!


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My Commitment to Support Hummingbirds

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When I lived down in Southern California, we had four small hummingbird feeders around our patio. We had two pair of beautiful orange colored rufous hummingbirds that the four feeders were a bit much for, but it was worth it just to see them in heated battle over the feeders.

During the moving process from South to North, we would be gone for a couple of weeks at a time. The feeders were low upon our return, but not empty. Whew! To our amazement, one of the moms had built her nest up in a corner under the patio cover. We tried avoiding using that door as much as possible, but we were moving. We were very happy to see that even though we were only feet from her nest, she endured the movement and noise we made and stayed. We were gone when the eggs hatched and the babies left the nest.

Hummingbirds at the feederIn March 2012, when we moved to Amador county, we really weren’t sure if we would have hummingbirds at all at our elevation of 2860 feet in the lower mountains. I put out a couple of feeders to see if any were around. To my pleasure, there were about six. Again our four small feeders were plenty.

As June approached however, they were joined by a few more. We seemed to have become the hot spot in the neighborhood. By the beginning of June, there were around 30, and it was time to invest in a feeder with a larger well. I got one that held about three cups. We had to fill that one once a day and the other four twice a day. By mid June their number doubled again, so off I went to get yet another feeder. This one held a quart. But we enjoyed them so much we were happy to do it. Within another two weeks, we were filling all six of them two to three times using about a gallon or so a day. We figured there were well over 100 by this time.

The Hummingbird Super Highway

It was like the super highway for hummingbirds. You had to get used to them whizzing by as you walked around the yard. They were everywhere. As soon as the sun came up, the air was filled with chirping and humming. They feed the most at dusk and dawn so most of the feeders had hovering room only during those times. The wars and fights would ensue as they poked at each other, body slammed each other, and even grabbed the tails of another and drug it down off of the feeder. Some of the aerial battles were amazing and would go on and on.

At the end of September, and 75 pounds of sugar later, they started their migration, with fewer of them every day. By the end of October, we were back down to our original six for the winter. In winter, the mix has about a quarter to a third more sugar to keep the nectar from freezing, though when we knew it was gong to get down into the teens over night, we still took them in at bed time and put them back out in the morning. We had our first snow on November 10th last year. It amazes me how those tiny little birds survive the cold.

So, it’s now June and we have added to our collection of feeders. We now have five that hold a quart and three of the small 2-cup feeders. The small ones are empty by mid day and the others will last a whole 24 hours. We are already through the first 25 pound bag of sugar and June isn’t over yet. We figure at least 50% of the second generation came back, maybe more. Three of the neighbors have at least one feeder and our porch is covered with flowers. We purchased a 3-gallon decanter to have more nectar on hand. That way mornings aren’t such a production.

Decanter

Hummingbirds in your Pet Sitting Contract

Now, here is the thing about leaving for any length of time. We have made a commitment to maintain the feeders. If we both need to leave town, we have to include filling the feeders in our pet care contract. As a pet sitter, I understand that. If you have hummingbird feeders up, you need to as well. So in my pet care contract you will see

  • Feeding instructions for my horses
  • Nectar recipe and instructions on filling the feeders
  • Watering instructions for all of my potted flowers protected from the heat and the deer
  • Feeding instructions for the dogs — but only if we have a house sitter

So, if you have made the commitment to care for hummingbirds, remember, they don’t eat if there is nothing to eat. Make sure to include their care with your pet sitting.   


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DIETER, My Rescue Dog

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Dieter, my standard schnauzer, has never seen a shelter that I know of. He is a rescue dog none-the-less. He is lucky that the police did not shoot him. Let me tell you his story.

Asia, Shiba Inu

Asia

I have had Asia, my Shiba Inu, since she was seven weeks old. She is now 12 and starting to move a little slower. I have wanted a second dog for quite some time and have been looking at several breed types.

I got a call from my cousin, Jody, who knew I was looking for another dog. She said that her friend down the street found a schnauzer. They really liked the dog but had too many dogs to keep him. We made arrangements to meet and I went to her house the next day. She started by telling me his scary story. 

Rescue Dog’s Scary Story

Dieter - rescue dog

Dieter

Her husband is a truck driver for Safeway during the week. He and a couple of other coworkers rent a house where they stay during the week, going home on the weekends. One night, around 2 am, they heard a lot of barking outside. Figuring it was just coyotes, he went outside and shot off a couple of shotgun rounds into the air. The barking stopped and he went back to bed.

The next morning, when he walked out of the house, he found this raggedy dog stuck under his truck on some tape he could see wrapped around his body. He then noticed that in the tape was a black box looking much like a bomb. My friend immediately called the police who came out directly. They looked at the dog who was still stuck to the undercarriage of the truck and after much ado, decided it wasn’t a bomb and crawled under the truck and rescued this terrified little dog. My friend said he looked like he wasn’t starved and clung to him for security. They cut the tape to find the box was an old internet router box.

Where he came from, there is no way of knowing. Our best speculation is that kids took or found him and did this to him. He either got away or they just let him go. Either way, it was terrifying and traumatic for him. Poor baby… My friends assured me that they had posted several ads and called all of the shelters in the valley and after two weeks, the only missing schnauzer was a female. 

Dieter is a total sweetie with a few little issues we are working on. Since the first time he figured out he can use the dog door any time he wants, he is in and out all the time. I can’t recall the name they had given him, but Dieter is a good German name. He has been with us since late December 2012, and Asia, though more tolerant now, still treats him like a bad smell in the room. But we love him greatly and he will spend the rest of his life here with us.


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My Volunteering Friends

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Most of us do small things for others once in a while. You may let someone with a few items in the grocery line ahead of you, or open the door for someone just to do it. I have several friends who go way beyond that, volunteering their time to a number of non-profit and/or charity organizations. Using their compassion and skills, they help people in so many ways that what they do must change the world for the better. We may never know how much.

volunteering graphic

Giving people come in many forms, volunteering in many ways. They may nurse a kitty back to health so it can find a forever home. They may fix a woman’s hair, sometimes for the first time in a long while, and see the joy in her eyes when she looks in the mirror. They may let their dog brighten up someones day, if onlyvolunteering - therapy dog for a moment. They may open their home to a family in need while they regroup and start over. They may help someone pick themselves up and get help with an addiction, or sponsor others to help them stay sober or get them back on track. There are so many others that I could go on for a while. Suffice it to say, what they do touches someone’s heart, whether for only a moment or a lifetime, it still changes that person. And people who have had someone do something that affected their life tend to pass it forward.

I was that person in a grocery line with a couple of items. The woman in front of me graciously let me ahead of her. When the cashier rang up my items, the bells sounded. I was the winner of a weekend in Palm Springs. Without hesitation, I turned and handed it to the woman that let me in line ahead of her. She actually said to me, “Oh, you don’t have to do that.”  I said its the perfect reward for your good deed. She was so thankful and happy since her anniversary was coming up and this would be so special. So I, who normally would have only had the chance to say thank you again while leaving, made someone’s day for doing something as simple as letting someone go ahead of them. 

Tell us your Story

We would like to hear a small story of yours. Please comment and tell us either what someone did for you, or what you did for someone else and how good it made you feel. Let’s see how many people we can inspire to do something for someone else.


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