There is nothing better for the soul than a big, honking dose of puppy love. Dogs know how to connect with our hearts and spirits in a way that comes so easily that it almost seems supernatural. Charlie Annenberg founded the Dog Bless You branch of his explore.org philanthropic network in 2006.
Dog Bless You aims to match our country's veterans, many of whom are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, and the elderly with loving animals as a therapeutic way in which they may reconnect with their humanity and forget the horrors of war while honoring the heroic work of service dogs across the globe. The Dog Bless You campaign travels the country bringing wet noses and wagging tails to the people who need them most. The Dog Bless You initiative is partnered with the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, and The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Their most pressing current project is a drive in which every for 5,000 likes of the Dog Bless You Facebook page, Annenberg will find a home for 1 dog with a service veteran with a goal of reaching 100 adoptions (500,000 facebook likes) -- and they're already halfway there!
Annenberg recently spoke with Animal Fair about his commitment to the betterment of the human condition and his enduring commitment to merits of animal therapy and the preservation of the natural world.
Annenberg rescued his faithful companion from West Los Angeles Animal Shelter in North Hollywood, and -- proving that great minds do indeed think alike -- promptly deemed him "Lucky." Annenberg admits that it was only a matter of time before he adopted, recalling, "I've always loved animals. When I was 8, I fell in love with my neighbor's Rhodesian Ridgeback named Vito. It was a boy and his dog from that point on." Ruminating on such details causes Annenberg to wax idyllic. He postulates, "What would the world be like if we all owned a golden retriever?"
It is this belief in basic human goodness that differentiates Annenberg and his philosophy from many of his peers. ""People simply need to reconnect with the treasures of our planet." He continues, "That said I also understand that when a family lives in fear of economic survival, they sometimes have to make choices they wish they didn't have to. It's a very delicate balance." This levelheaded approach of emphasizing education is emblematic of Annenberg's goal for the Explore network. Annenberg explains that all forms of human strife can be reduced to a core imbalance between fear and trust. "There are two factors," says Annenberg, "that separate compassion from abuse: fear and trust. Those who trust themselves, others, and the universe around them invariably possess more compassion than those who live in fear." He concludes, in true Animal Fair fashion, "Animals dismantle the walls of fear and bring people together."
Annenberg is a true believer in animal therapy, but also in the American spirit. "This
campaign," says Annenberg, "is about spreading patriotism in America. As a nation, we have truly struggled and I want the American public to feel good about themselves again. I hope these campaigns uplift spirits and illustrate that we are all in this together." He continues to elaborate upon the positive effects of therapy animals on the human psyche, noting, "They teach us how to love again, take responsibility, and reconnect with nature. Take the simple act of walking. Just leaving your house once or twice a day has such huge benefits!"
Annenberg summarizes the driving spirit behind the Dog Bless You movement etymologically, offering, "'Bless' is such a powerful word. 'God' is a symbol of unconditional love and so is 'dog.' So the moral here is for all of us to love unconditionally."
Dog Bless You continues its efforts in its expanded "Dog Bless USA" Campaign, which shines the spotlight on rescue and service dogs and the humans the help in hopes of creating a better world for everyone regardless of species.
Learn how you can help by visiting www.explore.org today.