Last year, I wrote about my dog-centered New Year’s resolutions. They were small but hopefully meaningful to the dogs in my immediate orbit—teeth-brushing, skijoring, leaving the iPod behind on walks. I made progress in all three categories (the latter was helped along by the loss of said distraction). And I stepped up with a fourth bounce for the dogs, clicker training. (I know, I’m the last kid on the block to drink the Kool-Aid for clicker training. But drink it I have and now I’m wondering what took so long.)
My goal was to keep my resolutions simple and manageable, so I might accomplish them. But lately I’ve been thinking bigger—about making goals that reach beyond my immediate, multi-species family. In part, because I’ve been helping out with a special issue of Bark (the first in 2010) highlighting the positive contributions of game-changers in the dog world. Researching the accomplishments of outstanding veterinarians, behaviorists, trainers, nutritionists and more over the decades is inspiring and humbling.
One story is most appropriate at this time of year. More than a decade ago, Jared and Betsy Saul made a New Year’s resolution to help at least one homeless dog get adopted each month. The Sauls were both employed full-time with no special experience in animal rescue or the like. But they knew their way around the Internet, and in their spare moments designed and launched Petfinder.com. Yeah. PET FRIGGIN FINDER! Honestly, it’s hard to imagine the world without this ubiquitous helper. It’s easily the go-to site for shelters, rescues and everyone seeking companion animals, and has facilitated millions of adoptions. Like that’s not enough, Betsy Saul is also the founder and president of the Petfinder.com Foundation, which supports the efforts of shelters, rescue organizations and animal welfare groups with funding, training and other resources.
All that difference rippling out from a single New Year’s resolution is awesome. The Sauls make a powerful case for what can happen when you get serious about making a difference this time of year.