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written by Raulla S. Mitchell

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘the universe.” Our task must be to widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Albert Einstein

Everyday, even with most of the challenges COVID 19 has presented during this topsy turvy 2020, and for too many, the challenges have been life and death ones, we have the opportunity to celebrate the true gifts of family and friends, in some strange way, now more than ever. This holiday season, while expressing our heartfelt gratitude to our loved ones, seated around our table, or close at heart but somewhere far away, brought closer through a family ZOOM call, let’s remember to extend our genuine gratitude and love to the family of all living beings who occupy our planet, and to nature herself to whom we are inextricably connected.

Organizations, such as the Best Animal Sanctuary, ASPCA, Animal Humane Society, PETA, Minnesota-based Howling for Wolves, and Heifer International are just a few of the wonderful organizations which help to connect animals and people, empowering individuals, families and communities to provide for their own needs and livelihoods.  During this global pandemic, so many of us have opened our hearts to new pets to share our hearts and homes.  We honor them when we help to provide for those who are still awaiting forever loving homes.

Consider sharing gifts which help the lives of people and other living creatures with whom we share this planet. When we share our blessings and gifts, it is with an expression of genuine grace and beauty that we honor the spirit which bestowed these gifts upon all of us.

Take extra care to keep your beloved pets safe this holiday season.  If it’s too cold for you outside, it’s probably too cold for your pets too.  Even if they love the outdoors, make sure they don’t stay out too long or fall asleep in the snow.  Ensure that they hydrate regularly and have extra food available to them, especially if you take them on long walks or a fun-filled workout at the dog park.  Just like you, their winter appetites might increase as they burn more calories exercising outdoors.  When the snow falls, and the roads get icy, salt on the roads can be hurtful to your pup’s paws.  Some dogs don’t mind booties, but whether or not you choose to protect your dog’s paws with booties, always try to walk where it’s not likely that salt has been placed, and keep the duration of your walks shorter.  Once you’re inside, gently clean off your dog’s paws with gentle washing and wiping so they don’t try to lick off the salt and the dirt.

If you plan to travel up north, please consider boarding your pets.  Wolves are hungry too, and in northern Minnesota, they’ve been known to take domesticated dogs and cats.  While I respect all creatures, and remain firmly dedicated to animal rights, including my love of wolves and ongoing support against state government reinstatement of the legalized hunting of wolves (wolves mate for life, and the livelihood and survival of the pack depends upon each family member), above all, I love my pets, and will do whatever is best for them.  I know you feel the same.      Grey Tiger with Blue Eyes and Red Nose - BONNE NUIT CHERE TIGRESSE - Crop - Blog - Sm

Let’s make this a happy holiday season full of heart for our families, our furry friends and family members, and the wild creatures who deserve our respect and their freedom to live as nature intended.

A camera should be the only apparatus used to shoot any wild animal.  It honors their beauty as a living thing, and never takes from them that which humans have no right to take.

If you have never looked at Jim Brandenburg’s Nature 365, you’re truly missing something.  I promise, once you experience their exquisite beauty, you’ll want to indulge in a minute or two every morning.  The videography and natural sounds of animals in nature are pure poetry that I promise will touch your soul.

Warmest holiday hugs to you, your animal families and friends, and all animals with whom we share the planet xo

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