My contribution to this year’s gift guide is centered around a subject near and dear to my heart: pets. Specifically, the adopted and fostered animals who become dear members of our families. I lost both of my geriatric dogs, Baloo Bear and Conrad Jenkins, this past fall and it was heartbreaking. I am, however, incredibly grateful for 15 years I had with them. Our house feels very empty, but luckily, I have two feisty cats who are doing their best to fill the void!
L / My beloved Baloo. R / My handsome Conrad. Photography by Linette Kielinski.
In Connie and Baloo’s honor, I will be doing all my holiday shopping with companies who support animal welfare causes. The following is a list of companies who are making well-designed, interesting, or delicious items and consistently donate a percentage to various rescues and animal welfare agencies. For those interested in eschewing the idea of buying more material things and would rather just donate, a couple of my favorite rescue organizations who are working to keep these beloved animals out of shelters are also listed below!
1/ FETCH EYEWEAR
This gift suggestion is both fashionable and functional! Great looking frames and 100% of the profits are donated to animal rescues in the Pacific Northwest.
Fetch offers both prescription and non-prescription frames and sunglasses, so you can look good while you do good. Don't feel comfortable picking out frames for someone else? They have gift cards!
2/ THE LIL BUB STORE
If you are online at all, you won’t be a stranger to Lil Bub, the incredibly cute, special needs Cat-Star of the internet. Lil Bub’s humans have created an online shop full of Lil Bub-themed gifts, including the all-American "Ugly Christmas Sweater", so you can help spread the love while keeping with tradition.
They even have a brick and mortar in Bloomington, IN. Stop in if you are in the area!
3/ RESCUE CHOCOLATE
Need to stuff the stockings but also want to do your part in raising awareness of the overpopulation of animals? Rescue Chocolate will do the trick with a sweet and friendly approach. The label of each flavor of chocolate bar highlights one of many different aspects of our homeless pet epidemic. They donate 100% of their profits to many different rescues around the country and list them all on the website for transparency.
Delicious, and nutritious – for the soul!
4/ BENEFIT WINES
After all that gifting and giving, it’s time to relax and treat yourself to a glass of wine at the end of the day. You can do that and continue in the spirit of giving back to community members of the furry persuasion. Benefit Wines uses an online platform and a wine-for-charity model to aid charitable groups of any size, which means you can choose your preferred rescue organization from their vast list of charities.
The case of wine I purchased benefited German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) Rescue of NJ in honor of my beloved dog, Conrad Jenkins, a German Shorthaired Pointer mix.
5/ MY FAVORITE RESCUES
Lastly, I want to highlight a couple rescues whom I follow online and donate to whenever I have some spare change in my pocket.
City of Elderly Love is a Philadelphia – based rescue that specializes in fostering and placing senior dogs and cats. Kate has done a lot of volunteering for them and I’m looking forward to joining her. They are always willing to accept donations but if you want something to spread awareness of the cause, you can purchase some COEL merch to wear proudly around town.
Mission Compassion Paw (MCP) is a rescue and outreach organization based in Chicagoland. Besides providing foster homes for pets in need, they organize community events that help families keep and care for their pets. In that same vein, they also partner with other animal welfare organizations in prevention and diversion programs to help prevent pets from going to shelters.
There are a lot of easy ways you can do good with your holiday shopping, from buying directly from companies who give to rescues or indirectly, like using Amazon Smile or Goodsearch. While donating directly is one way to make sure rescue and adoption organizations continue to be able to save our best friends, it's not the only way. So hopefully, this guide will help to add some extra warm fuzzy feelings to your gift giving.
Happy Holidays from our furry friends to you and yours!