November 23rd, 2011 at 5:00 am
No matter how you slice, turkey and Thanksgiving are practically synonymous. Americans owe a lot to this noble bird and though the first Thanksgiving may or may not have included turkey as part of the feast, wild turkeys were an important food source for the early settlers. Giving thanks for the Thanksgiving turkey is a big part of most family traditions.
In this season of Thanksgiving, I think it’s important to take moment to remember all the animals in our lives. We love them, we invite them into our homes, we ride them, eat them, put them to work, count on them and even call them our best friends, but do we ever really thank them?
Here are a few little reminders of why we owe such a debt of gratitude to the animals of this world.
- Pet ownership is healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control, pets can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness.
- Service animals save and enhance the lives of hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities and medical conditions.
- Therapy animals have been used to help in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. They have even been trained to help children learn to read.
- The Army Quartermaster Corp has trained and used dogs in military service since WWII.
- The Mounted Police ride horses to patrol areas that are not easily accessed by cars or motorcycles, including national parks, big cities and in border patrols.
- Police dogs have been trained to sniff out drugs, bombs and bodies. They do work humans cannot do alone.
- More often than we realize, devoted animals have saved the lives of their humans.
These examples are just a drop in the bucket. Animals are essential to health and well being of our planet and to every other animal on it, especially human animals. Let’s not take them for granted.
For the last several years, we have used “gratitude turkeys” to help us count our blessings. Everyone at the table is invited to draw and decorate a turkey, and include an offering of gratitude. Last year, one of our more enterprising youngsters “sold” the forms for a buck a piece to raise money for a favorite charity. I’ve included two sample ideas here for you to try.
Best wishes for a warm and wonderful holiday. Here’s my official thank you to Hazel (our dog) and Pekoe and Tea (our kittens), as well as to all the animals at my husband’s pet store, who, after all, help pay our mortgage.
Related Picture Books
One is a Feast for a Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale by Judy Cox, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbler
T is for Turkey, A True Thanksgiving Story by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Gerald Kelley