Do-Good Doggies: Three Ways Your Dog Can Make a Difference

Every dog owner knows that their furry buddy makes their world a better place, but your canine companion also has the ability to make the world a better place. From helping others to going green, this article will outline some ways your dog can leave his or her mark in the world.

Running and Walking for Charity

Part of owning a dog is the requisite daily walk. What if you could use this walk to also give back to charity? For those with a smart phone, this is just an app download and a few clicks away. Charity Miles is an app that tracks your bike, run and walk mileage and lets you select from a list of charities such as The Partnership for a Healthier America, ASPCA, Alzheimer’s Association, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Special Olympics and Team for Kids. As you walk or run your pups, you can earn 25 cents per mile for the organization of your choice (I always choose ASPCA, because it benefits animals in need). The impact seems minimal, but adds up quickly. I walk my two dogs three miles each day—that’s 75 cents. Multiply that by 350 (I’m accounting for some skipped or lazy days) and that’s $262 for puppies and kitties just by walking my dogs.

Running inclined owners may also sign up for a run with pup for charity. Each year, there are dozens of dog-friendly races across the country—like Albuquerque’s Doggie Dash and Dawdle, Richmond’s Dog Jog and San Antonio’s Dog Days of Summer 5K—that also help benefit canine charities. Browse more events here.

Going Green

Humans aren’t the only ones who can go green. There are a number of ways your dog can reduce his or her (paw) print. Several dog gear companies are now making toys from recycled materials. Westpaw Design is one such company that uses eco-friendly material for their dog toys and beds—stuffing made from recycled bottles, plastic made from old chew toys, and organically-grown hemp, cotton, and catnip. A Google search for “eco-friendly dog bed” will also yield dozens of hits.

Your dog can also make a statement with his or her doggie doo bags—there are now a number of biodegradable options on the market. The aptly named poopbags.com has a variety of bags ranging from plant-based (commercially compostable), USDA certified bio based and recycled poop bags.

Giving a Helping Paw

There are a number of programs that let dogs give back through service, whether it’s as a service or therapy dog, a reading dog or even a courthouse dog.

Many libraries and schools across the country have enlisted the help of dogs to help children practice their reading skills. The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ), based in Salt Lake City, Sit Stay Read!, based in Chicago, and Canine Assisted Reading Education (CARE), based in North Carolina, are just a handful of reading programs that your dog can get involved in. And these dogs are paws-itively making a difference—in a 2014 study, researchers found that reading to a dog positively impacted reading skills among a group of third grade students. Therapy Dogs International (TDI) is a great place to start, for those interested in getting their dogs involved in visiting libraries as reading dogs. TDI dogs also may visit nursing homes, schools, hospitals, homes, assisted living and shelters. To join, dogs must pass an evaluation. Information can be found on the organization’s website.

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