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Charity Navigator: Four Star Charity

Ben Stein has some thoughts on how to get through the recession. His advice? Get a dog.


December 2009

Dear Fellow Animal Lover:

This being the holiday season, I would like to give you a gift and this is it – take just a couple of minutes to watch the video above of Ben Stein, or view it on YouTube.  

I think you will agree that his advice is excellent. The only thing about his advice that I would change is that everywhere he says “dog” in this video, he should have said “dog or cat.”

Regardless of what your problems may be, they will seem less frightening and less overwhelming if you have a pet; either a dog or a cat will do just fine. Pets are the antidote to every problem, large or small, just as Ben counsels. There are several reasons why that is true. Our animals have a simpler and healthier approach to life and that puts our problems and setbacks in perspective for us. They remind us that life will go on and we will have good times again regardless of what the current problems are and how bad they seem at the moment. They remind us of what really matters in life. Our pets love and embrace us regardless of what misfortunes we may have suffered, what failures we may have had or what cruelties other humans may have inflicted on us. And, probably more than any other reason, they give us an utterly reliable source of love without any conditions or demands. Well, other than the provision of some food and a few walks a day which are also good for us by the way.

The truest thing that Ben says in this video is that “They need your love and you need them.” We do need them and we rely on them at our life’s darkest and scariest moments. Who among us has not at some time in life put his arms around his dog or cat and shed tears into that soft fur without having to worry about looking dumb or weak? Recently, there was a picture on the front of the Metro section of the Washington Post of a man who had recently lost his job driving his teenaged son to school. The caption made no mention of the most obvious thing in the picture – that the son was in the back seat hugging their family dog with a touchingly frightened and needy look.

Our pets do not just help us through the bad times, they also make every good time and memorable occasion all the more so just by being a part of it.

This holiday season, my fondest hope is that people who do not have a pet will get one and that everyone who does will hold that pet close, give him an extra treat or two and realize how enormously better life is for having that pet. (I might add that, if you have just one, it could only be better to get one more!)

And, I am going to ask for a gift back. When you think about how much love and comfort and happiness your pet brings to your life, please think also about how many of them are waiting for the chance to give that same love and comfort and happiness to someone but they have no home and no family. Like Ben says, “They need your love.” Please give as generously as you can to the Richmond SPCA this holiday season and all through the year so that we may help other people and other pets find each other and be each other’s best friend and safest refuge from all that life can deal.


Robin Robertson Starr
Chief Executive Officer
Richmond SPCA

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