What can you do for animals?

81sxcc1obelWhen the enormity of a problem makes you want to shrug your shoulders and turn away, that’s the time to break that problem down — into a million oddball pieces if necessary — and find something, however small it may seem, that you can do. Sometimes it’s right in your back yard.

Tracy Stewart’s book, Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better, does this with the savvy of a an animal advocate and former vet tech and with mom-next-door authenticity. The book also does it with Lisel Ashlock’s breathtaking illustrations, some of them simply capturing the natural world and others showing how pigs express sadness, how cats may react to catnip (“whoa, dude!”), and more.

Within these colorful pages, you’ll find everything from practical animal care tips (“Five Ways to Make a Cat Happy”) to recipes for homemade dog biscuits and horse cookies to hard-to-take information about puppy mills and factory farms. At no point in the reading of this book did I find the shaming, blaming, or manipulating that can seep into the most well-meaning literature that aims to benefit animals or the environment as a whole. Parents will find this book especially useful, as there are several activities (such as the “Hurtless Hunt”) families can do together.

So the next time you read or hear something that leaves you feeling overwhelmed with sadness and/or that nothing you can do could possibly help — first of all: Breathe. Then open this book.