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Advice for Teaching Toddlers How to Be Kind to Pets

Raising children can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience; however, it can be hard for children to learn how to interact with animals. When it comes to sharing kindness with pets, this is often a task that toddlers struggle with. This can leave parents wondering what they are going to do. After all, having a pet is a great way to teach a child responsibility in addition to welcoming another member of the family. It is important for parents to teach their children how to be kind to pets. For parents who are having trouble getting their toddlers to empathize with pets, there are a few pieces of advice to keep in mind.

Lead by Example

The first tip to keep in mind is to lead by example. Instead of telling kids how they should interact with animals, take steps to demonstrate this to them by example. Take kids out to petting zoos and show kindness to animals. Feed the animals. Pet the animals. Say kind things. Kids want to do what their parents are doing. If they see their parents being kind to animals, they are going to follow in those important footsteps.

Read About Animals

Toddlers are not intentionally mean to animals; however, they are going to be hesitant to open up to something that is unfamiliar to them. Therefore, when teaching toddlers how to read, take the time to read a few books and stories about animals. There are countless books that are meant for children that discuss animals, the various types, why they are important, and how to interact with them. Pick a few of these books out. The books will teach children about animals and, as toddlers become more familiar with them, they will show them kindness.

Use a Pretend Pet

One of the first steps that parents can take to get their toddlers more comfortable around pets is to come up with a pretend example. These take the form of stuffed animals. Many kids come home from the hospital with stuffed animals and end up being a kid’s first friend. Go through the store and pick out a few pretend pets from the stuffed animal aisle. The kids will open up to them and often give their new pretend friend a name. This will help toddlers learn how to empathize with real-life pets that look like their stuffed animals.

Use Positive Reinforcement

A lot of parents are hesitant to heap praise on their child for doing something they are supposed to do. After all, children are supposed to be kind to animals. Why reward them for doing something that they should already be doing? The answer is because it works. Positive reinforcement works on everyone, including children. Toddlers want to please their parents. If they receive praise for being nice to the family pet, they are going to continue with this behavior in the future. Use positive reinforcement to teach toddlers how to be kind to pets.

Ensure there is a Safe Space in the Home for the Pet

In order for toddlers to be kind to pets, they need to feel comfortable around them. This means that the pet needs to be nice to the toddler as well. Pets are going to be irritated if toddlers are constantly picking on them. Eventually, they are going to fight back. This will make it hard for a toddler to become friendly with the family pet. Prevent this by providing the pet with a safe space to hide when they need a break. This will help both the pet and the toddler.

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Cat Accidentally Shipped 650 Miles in Amazon Box, Found Safe

Renee Yates

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Cats are known for their love of boxes, and Galena, a cat from Central Utah, is no exception. This adventurous feline found herself on an unplanned journey over 650 miles away in California after sneaking into an Amazon return package. Her owner, Carrie Stephens Clark from Lehi, Utah, realized Galena was missing on April 10 and immediately started a thorough search.

Clark shared on Facebook that after searching their home, the local area, and even the Jordan River Trail without any luck, they posted flyers and turned to social media. The situation looked bleak until an unexpected call changed everything a week later. A veterinarian in California contacted Clark to report that Galena had been found after her microchip was scanned near Riverside. The cat had unknowingly climbed into a shoebox that was being sent back to Amazon and ended up in a warehouse.

At the warehouse, an Amazon employee, Brandy Hunter, noticed Galena inside a sealed box among returned items. Despite being scared and a bit dehydrated, Galena was in good health, with no injuries apart from potential bruises. Hunter, moved by the cat’s condition, helped her receive veterinary care and coordinated with Clark for her return.

Clark and her husband flew to California to reunite with Galena, and the reunion was described as magical. The family then drove 1,400 miles back to Utah to bring Galena home. Clark expressed her gratitude for the microchip that helped locate Galena quickly and stressed the importance of microchipping pets. She also humorously advised pet owners to double-check their boxes before returning them to avoid similar surprises.

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Second Chance at Old Friends: Woman Finds Healing Among Senior Dogs

Renee Yates

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Kerry Gluck’s story is one of resilience and finding purpose in unexpected places. It’s a tale marked by anniversaries – a devastating tornado four years ago, overcoming long-haul COVID two years back, and now, celebrating two years working at a place that’s become her sanctuary: Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary.

Life wasn’t always easy for Kerry. A tornado ripped through her Mt. Juliet neighborhood four years ago, leaving their home in ruins. Then came a battle with COVID that left her barely able to walk. These challenges forced her to retire from her 27-year nursing career.

But hope arrived two years ago when Kerry started working at Old Friends. Funded by donations, the sanctuary provides a loving home for senior dogs with medical needs.

“The elderly dogs hold a big place in my heart,” Kerry says. “Every day is filled with activities for the dogs, both here and those fostered in homes.”

Kerry feels a deep connection with the dogs, having experienced her own struggles. “I know what it’s like to need help,” she confides. “I feel like I’ve waited my whole life for this job.”

The sanctuary recently celebrated its 12th anniversary with a unique event – a “Geezer Gala” dog prom! Dressed in their finest attire, the senior pups enjoyed the company of guests and each other.

“It’s a wholesome environment,” Kerry beams. “It just fills your heart with joy.”

Kerry reflects on her journey, acknowledging the hardships and the unexpected blessings. “My life is completely different now,” she says. “I celebrate with hundreds of friends, some with two feet and some with four.”

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A Heartwarming Tale of Kindness: Gaia the Dog and Her New Life

Kevin Wells

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In a touching story of kindness and companionship, a dog named Gaia and her owner, Lisa Kanarek, are spreading joy and comfort to those in need. The story began when Gaia’s original owner, Sandra, was hospitalized, leaving Gaia confined to a small backyard. Concerned for the husky’s well-being, next-door neighbor Lisa Kanarek offered to walk her.

“I walked in, and then Gaia came up to me very slowly,” Kanarek recalled. “And then I said, ‘Oh, hi.'” What started as a kind gesture turned into a regular routine, with Kanarek walking Gaia while Sandra’s health continued to decline.

In a twist of fate, two weeks before Sandra passed away, she asked Kanarek if she would like to take care of Gaia permanently. Kanarek’s response was an enthusiastic “Sure. I would love to.” After Sandra’s death, Kanarek officially welcomed Gaia into her home, providing her with more walks and attention.

Noticing Gaia’s gentle nature with neighborhood children, Kanarek enrolled her in a pet therapy program, which she passed with flying colors. “I can tell, when I put on her vest, she’s ready to go,” Kanarek said. Their first assignment was at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, where Gaia brought comfort and joy to sick children.

Kanarek, who was finishing her training to be an end-of-life doula at the time, realized that Gaia was perfect for hospice therapy as well. Together, they now minister to the terminally ill, bringing solace and happiness in difficult times.

Asked whether she was doing this for Gaia’s benefit or for herself, Kanarek replied, “I think I’m doing this for both of us. I think it benefits both of us.” Gaia’s new life has brought her into the hearts of many, from the kids down the street to patients in hospitals. She provides laughter and levity, all with her tail wagging.

For Kanarek, life has also changed. Meeting dozens of people during their visits has brought out her extroverted tendencies, lost during the pandemic. “Before I knock on each patient’s door, I breathe in, then greet families with confidence,” she said.

As they walk through the halls of the children’s hospital, Kanarek thinks of Sandra and hopes she’s smiling, knowing how much joy Gaia brings to everyone she meets. “I’m trying not to cry,” Kanarek said, reflecting on her new life with Gaia. “It makes me happy; it makes me sad, because I wish I had known Sandra better, but I think this is the way that I’m helping keep her memory alive.”

Through their acts of kindness, Gaia and Kanarek are not only keeping Sandra’s memory alive but also making a positive impact on the lives of many.

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Frannie’s Remarkable Journey: From Overweight to Overjoyed

Kelly Taylor

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In a heartwarming story of transformation, a golden retriever named Frannie has captured the hearts of many. Once an overweight dog living a neglected life outdoors, Frannie’s journey to a healthier and happier life has inspired people around the world.

Frannie’s life took a turn for the better when Annika Bram, a 24-year-old second-year student at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, decided to foster her. Annika had recently lost her rescue dog, Georgia, who was also severely overweight when adopted. When Annika saw a video of Frannie, she immediately felt a connection.

“I think Georgia sent her to me,” Annika said, recalling how Frannie reminded her of Georgia. “Georgia is telling me I need to help this dog.”

Frannie weighed 125 pounds when she came into Annika’s care, which is about 65 pounds heavier than the average female golden retriever. Her weight was a result of a sedentary life, being fed table scraps, and untreated hypothyroidism. She never had proper vet care and was even found drinking out of a paint bucket.

The rescue operation was challenging, as it took four people to get Frannie into the back of a minivan. “She’s really been put through the wringer, and I think we got her just in time,” said Sydney Maleman, the president of the rescue group Rover’s Retreat.

Frannie was medically unstable when rescued, suffering from pneumonia and unable to hold her head up on her own. However, under Annika’s care, she has made remarkable progress. In less than three months, Frannie has lost 31 pounds, thanks to a strict weight-loss diet, thyroid medication, and increased exercise.

“Every day, her personality comes out more,” Annika said. “All that personality has been hidden away for so long.” Frannie now enjoys a bubbly nature and a sassy side, and Annika’s goal is to get her down to around 70 pounds.

The best part of Frannie’s transformation is seeing her enjoy life as a normal dog, with more autonomy and independence. Annika has now decided to adopt Frannie, giving her a forever home. “She’s not going anywhere,” Annika declared.

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Worcester Library’s Unique Approach to Solving Library Fees: March Meow

Renee Yates

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In Worcester, Massachusetts, the local library has come up with a creative and fun way to address the issue of lost or damaged books. The program, known as “March Meow,” allows library guests to reactivate their accounts by simply showing a picture of a cat. This innovative initiative is open to anyone who has misplaced or damaged a borrowed book and runs through the end of March.

Participants in the March Meow program can bring in any form of cat imagery, whether it’s a photo, a drawing, or a magazine clipping, to get their library card reactivated. The library has even set up a cat wall in the main building to display the various cat pictures and drawings contributed by patrons. This lighthearted approach has been a hit, with hundreds of returns already and numerous postings of random cat photos.

The local NPR affiliate, WBUR, described the initiative as a “never be-fur tried initiative,” encouraging patrons to “act meow.” Jason Homer, the executive director of the Worcester Library, is feeling “feline good” about the response. “We take a lot of honorary cats,” he said, referring to the diverse range of cat representations being accepted.

Even those without a cat can participate. One example is a 7-year-old boy who had not returned a “Captain Underpants” book. He had his library card reactivated after the staff provided him with paper and crayons to sketch a cat. “It spiraled in a good way from there,” Mr. Homer noted. “We were just trying to figure out the lowest barrier possible.”

The library’s message is clear: “It’s OK, we forgive you. Just show us a picture of a cat.” This approach not only addresses the issue of lost or damaged books but also helps to soften the stereotype of the stern librarian. “We don’t really have the high buns and ‘shush’ people anymore,” Mr. Homer said. “We are still book lovers, cardigan lovers, and cat lovers.”

Overall, the March Meow program is a unique and effective way for the Worcester Library to promote accountability and forgiveness among its patrons, all while celebrating the community’s love for cats.

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