In our high-tech, low-contact world, it’s easy to get lost in the folds of the internet and let the digital world take over. Before you know it, you wind up feeling a little deprived of real interaction. That’s what our pets are so wonderful for. They provide unconditional love and acceptance that isn’t as easily doled out in the human world. They remind us that we need to step away from technology and be present in the real world because come on, come on, it’s nice outside, and there’s a squirrel I want to chase! For folks recovering from substance abuse, it’s even more important to have daily reminders of love and acceptance. That’s why Stephen Knight, a recovered addict who returned to school to become a substance abuse counselor, started Dogs Matter. For Knight, getting a dog eight months into his recovery program changed his life. His pup, Jayde, taught him how to trust again and build relationships. The love that Jayde provided helped him get through the toughest points. In that spirit, Dogs Matter provides temporary foster care for the pets of people who are entering recovery programs, where pets typically aren’t allowed. When they complete the program, they are reunited with their pets. Knowing their pets are being taken care of allows them to focus on their recovery, and the joy of being reunited helps them stick with sobriety. The results of the organization’s efforts speak for themselves. Three years into the program, around 70% of clients are clean and sober. “Most made it through the [most difficult] first year because they had their dog back,” Knight told NBC News. When you’re looking for extra love and acceptance, you don’t need to look much further than your four-legged friend. Look out for them by keeping up on their routine vaccines, parasite prevention treatments, dental care, and any other treatments they need to stay healthy and well. THE LIFE- CHANGING BOND BETWEEN PETS AND THEIR HUMANS The Best Companion
THE STORY OF GRANDPA MASON
How a Feral Cat Came to Care for Orphaned Kittens When cats are orphaned as kittens, they don’t get the chance to develop all the skills needed to become successful cats. Just like human children, kittens need older role models too. The most famous cat role model had a rough start in life but became an inspiration for kittens and humans alike. His name was Grandpa Mason, and during the last years of his life, he stepped up and gave love, care, and guidance to the orphaned kittens that lived with him. The Canadian animal rescue group TinyKittens rescued Grandpa Mason in 2016 from a property that was scheduled to be bulldozed. The poor feral tabby was suffering from many health problems, including severe dental issues, a badly injured paw, and advanced kidney disease. Since TinyKittens is a no-kill rescue organization, euthanization was out of the question. Given his health conditions, veterinarians predicted the battle-scarred Grandpa Mason didn’t have long to live, so TinyKittens’ founder, Shelly Roche, took him in and provided him with a comfortable place to sleep, plenty of food, and time to relax in the last months of his life. Grandpa Mason had a hard time adjusting to domestic life and would often shy away from being petted. In an interview with The Dodo, Roche described him as “an elderly gentleman [who] lived his whole life a certain way, and then, all of a sudden, [was] forced to live completely differently.” After Grandpa Mason grew accustomed to his home, Roche took in several foster kittens, and those new roommates completely altered Grandpa Mason’s behavior. Roche expected him to hiss, swat, or growl at the kittens when they invaded his space, but he didn’t. Instead, he allowed them to crawl all over him and appeared to enjoy it when they licked his ear. Suddenly a playful, affectionate, and gentle personality came out of Grandpa Mason as he played with, bathed, taught, and cared for the orphaned kittens that Roche welcomed into her home. Potentially due to the kittens’ influence, Grandpa Mason surpassed his prognosis by more than two years. During the last few years of his life, Grandpa Mason passed on important lessons and good manners to the kittens he looked after and adored, as a true grandfather should. He passed last September, but he spent his last night in his ultimate happy place: snuggling in his bed surrounded by kittens.
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