Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

The Joy of Fostering Dogs & Cats

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I find fostering particularly difficult. Having said that, I jumped into the car yesterday when the Dogs’ Refuge Home called and asked if I’d foster a young girl named Chanel who’d just been surrendered.  

This is a photo of my bed last night. Sunny is in the forefront, with Chanel (in the bed she came with) near my pillow.


Luckily there aren’t any photos of the cry-baby who returned her back to the shelter this morning to meet her perfect family. I apologize to all the staff who had to console me. #notpretty

This brings me to the most important part of the story. Last night I laughed – a lot. Joy filled my heart as I watched the dogs play together. Chanel was a ray of sunshine.  ☀️

If it weren’t for the good people who volunteer for and staff animal shelters around the world, the light provided by millions of special animals would never fill a home. Their joy and love would not reach those for whom it was intended.  

Fostering is hard but it’s worth it. In one night I was injected with an infinite amount of love and I’m grateful. 

To all my friends in the compassion movement who rescue: May you always know the love you create.  💘

Look for the Window

The view from the 9th floor of the Mercure Hotel in Perth, Australia

2020:  The year had taken its toll – leaving me stunned like a bird who flew into a windowpane and lived.  Each month had brought an unexpected challenge, a boulder to climb on the way up the mountain.  For the first nine months I kept climbing, until the avalanche – when my mother was swept away by the virus. 

Depleted of every ounce of strength, I meditated and asked for help. The message I received was simple and clear; “Each day you will be presented with a window.  Open it.”  

True to that message, each day after receiving it, a metaphorical window appeared and I was given the gift of guidance to get me through another day. 

Five weeks passed and I found myself pacing a hotel room like a caged tiger.  I’d made it back to Western Australia – a state as big as one-third of the United States and an oasis without community spread of COVID-19.  The cases in the state were coming from international travelers who were departing planes or ships.  The mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine was keeping the virus from spreading. It was challenging and confronting.  Food was delivered in a brown paper bag with a knock at the door.  I wasn’t permitted to open the door for 20 seconds, so as not to expose hotel staff should I have the virus.  There were daily “health checks” from a nurse who called to ask how I was feeling, and COVID tests. To spare the kitchen of being exposed to COVID by plates or utensils, there wasn’t any room service of prepared food.  It was one of the few systems in the world that was working – for the greater good.  It wasn’t easy but I was getting through it.  The only thing I was craving was hot, strong, creamy coffee.  

On day eight I hit a wall. Up until then I’d kept busy each day with work – drafting language to deliver to the Biden administration in hopes of getting quick rule changes for animals – and on Zoom calls in Washington, Morocco, South Africa, New York, Canada, China, the Netherlands, and Australia with people who were leading the charge to help animals in our world. To keep spirits in check, my routine also included a vegan diet combined with reading, yoga, meditating, and taking French lessons.  But on day eight, I just couldn’t move. I’d woken at 4am feeling the unbearable sadness that comes with loss.  Tears flowed endlessly, soaking into the pillow.  I succumbed to the sadness for seven hours, and at 11am, still in my pajamas, I went to the window, opened the curtains and looked down.   Nine floors below, three people – a man and two children, were holding hand-made signs facing my window.  The first sign read:  Welcome Home!  The second had a phone number on it, and the third read:  Free Coffee. 

I grabbed a white t-shirt from my suitcase and slipped it out the cracked window, waving it while yelling to the sign holders below.  “Thank you!  I love you!”  

I called the number and watched as the man below lifted the phone to his ear. 


 “You just made my day,” I said, simultaneously waving the flag. “Do you see me?” 

He looked up.

“Yes! May I buy you a coffee,” he asked.  

 “I just want you to know that your kindness has made my day.  I’m having a hard one.  You’ve lifted my spirits.  Are those your kids with you,” I asked? 


“What’s your name?” 

“Tim,” he responded.

“Tim,” I said, “thank you for being examples of the best of humanity.”   

We continued to talk and Tim explained that he knew what it felt to be quarantined in the hotel.  As an American living in Australia, he’d arrived back from the United States in September, after spending three months in Memphis with his sister, who was being treated for triple-negative breast cancer.  

He asked where I’d flown in from and I told him Boston.  

“Do you know Manchester?  I have a brother there,” he said.

 “Manchester, New Hampshire,” I questioned.  

“Yes,” he said.

“That’s where I’ve just come from.  My Mom died of COVID there.”

I watched as Tim walked away from his kids, his voice catching.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, as I started to cry.   

“And you know what else… my dog died while I was on my way here to be with her.”  

“Please let me buy you a coffee,” he said. 

 “Thank you. I’d love that. You have no idea how much I’ve craved a coffee.”

“Yes, I do,” he responded.  

When we finished talking, I watched as he knelt in front of his children.  They put their signs down and sat on the pavement, listening to him intently.  I knew he was telling them about the woman in the hotel and I was hoping he was telling them about the good they’d created in her heart. 

An extra-hot soy latte arrived at my door 10 minutes later.  I drank it while looking out the window, feeling so grateful for the many gifts they had instantly bestowed upon me. 

As the days passed, Tim and his son and daughter were often on my mind. I wanted to know more about them because I knew they’d come into my life for a reason.  And then one day I looked out my window and there he was again, holding his sign.  I grabbed my phone to call and saw there was already a text from him on it. 

 “Hey, hey!! How’s about a Coffee?” 

I called and thanked him but said that thanks to him, I’d already ordered one.  But I asked if he wouldn’t mind if I asked him a personal question.  I’d been wondering if, on the day we met, when I saw him kneeling on the sidewalk with his children, if they had prayed for me.  “Yes, we were praying for you, prayed God would strengthen you, build you up and give you some peace while you were in that room for 14 days. I believe in love your neighbor as yourself,” he said.  “We have a family saying and start each day with these words; Love God, Love Others, Be Excellent.”

Look for the window, my friends.  Let us be thankful for the lessons, the gifts, the friendships, and the love. Hang on, hold tight, have faith.  ~Jennifer Skiff

*More than 100,000 people have served hotel quarantine in Australia since the start of the pandemic. Tim has established a Go-Fund-Me page to continue his good work – offering coffee and hope.  If you’d like to be the light that shines on someone’s day, feel free to join Tim and his kids by buying a stranger a coffee here:

Jennifer Skiff is the author of the books, God Stories, The Divinity of Dogs, and Rescuing Ladybugs.  She is the Director of International Programs for Animal Wellness Action & The Center for a Humane Economy and serves as a diplomatic strategist for SPCA International.

Good People (Tim & Family)

Inspiring our Youth

On this Martin Luther King day, I’d like to honor the youth in our world who are discovering they CAN change the world!  I’m pleased to introduce you to a group of students I’m really proud of – the EHOVE medical careers class in Milan, Ohio.

When Rescuing Ladybugs was released in September, I set an intention.  I wanted the book to be used as a school curriculum.  So when, just a few weeks later, school teacher Kim Davidson contacted me to tell me that she was reading the book to her class, I saw her message as a sign.  That class would be the first to try the book as curriculum!  Kim agreed and the high school class started reading about animals, heroes, and the compassion movement while learning world geography.  I asked them to do me one favor while they were reading, to think about one thing they could do that would make a positive difference for others less fortunate.

Inspired by their teacher and the heroes in the book, they chose to involve the whole school to fill the rooms of the Huron County Humane Society with pet food, treats, supplies, blankets, and so much more.  Their holiday drive was so successful they took truckloads of goods to the shelter.  In doing this, they realized that when you walk on a path to do good for others, you are joined by an army of people willing to help.  I am so very proud of these students.  I am so grateful to their teacher for leading the way.

The successful quest to do good has inspired them to continue their fundraising by participating in a 5K dog walk/run this spring to benefit the shelter and its homeless and abandoned animals.  BRAVO team!

If you’re a teacher and would like to use Rescuing Ladybugs as curriculum to inspire your students, please contact me.  I’d love to work with you to make that happen.

And to the EHOVE students, I love you and can’t wait to meet you soon on Skype!  Jennifer


Reading Rescuing Ladybugs and being empowered to create positive change for the Huron County Humane Society

EHOVE Medical Careers Class

Good Prevails! Ending 2018 with Great News for Animals

BREAKING GREAT NEWS!  Something spectacular happened today!  Some might call it a miracle, but it wasn’t because it was created from hard work, perseverance and dedication to right wrongs.  Today, President Trump signed the Farm Bill into law and with it, several animal protection initiatives were born. They include the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act, the Pet and Women Safety Act and the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act – which makes dog and cockfighting illegal in U.S. territories.  All of these acts – which many of us have worked on for years to see become laws, were incorporated into the Farm Bill as amendments. With this Bill, legislators also said NO to the proposed King Amendment that would have stripped states of farming and animal protection laws.  THIS IS HUGE!

On top of this news, last month Californians voted against the extreme confinement of farm animals and Floridians voted overwhelmingly to end Greyhound racing and the cruelty that comes with it.

We end 2018 on a great note for animals, one that screams to lawmakers that we’re not going to take animal abuse and exploitation anymore.  We’ve given notice that animal welfare is a bipartisan issue.  It’s not about politics, it’s about compassion.

I’ve promised myself to celebrate these wins because I’ve spent years working to help make them happen by going to Washington and successfully meeting with lawmakers.  But no one person did this alone.  WE DID THIS!  If you signed petitions, made phone calls or sent emails to lawmakers, attended fundraisers, gave money to lobby groups like The Humane Society of the United States Legislative Fund and Animal Welfare Action – if you volunteered, wrote letters to editors, and if you saw something wrong and did something about it – I ask you to please celebrate this win with me and end the year with a renewed commitment to keep going to create positive change.

This is a magnificent accomplishment and we must absorb the positive energy that comes with it. We’re all part of the compassion movement and together, with the signing of the Farm Bill, we have; made it easier for women to leave abusive relationships with their pets, made it illegal to eat dogs and cats in the United States, and made it illegal to fight dogs and cocks in U.S. territories – a move that will stop a myriad of illegal acts that go with the torture of animals in these activities.

Bravo to the lawmakers themselves who worked hard for today’s success. And to all the people I work alongside, and to those who I haven’t had the pleasure to meet but who have participated in today’s win by speaking up for those who can’t – you have my admiration and gratitude.  #HEROES

~Jennifer Skiff, Advocate and Author of Rescuing Ladybugs, The Divinity of Dogs, and God Stories

Meeting with Maine Senator Susan Collins to discuss animal welfare issues.

Becky Sentementes with Humane Society of the United States representatives Katie Hansberry and volunteer Jennifer Skiff lobbying for animals in Washington, D.C.

Gratitude Transcends Species

This is my friend Hope. Most days now, I drive to her house in the late afternoon and help lift her into the back of her Mom’s car so she can go to the dog park to spend an hour with her friends. Hope is always grateful.

We’ve been friends for a decade and during that time, she has never missed an opportunity to tell me I’m special, that I matter to her. Her smile radiates love and is a gift to me. I’m grateful for Hope.

When all feels lost, gravitate toward dog because love is mirrored and gratitude transcends species.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love, Jennifer & Hope

The Wave of Compassion


As I sat on a beach in Victoria, Australia the other day, admiring the dramatic limestone stacks known as the Twelve Apostles, a sense of euphoria washed over me. I was thinking about the notable shift happening in our world. The stacks have been crumbling, succumbing to the strength of the sea. Similarly, the houses in the world built on greed are collapsing against waves of compassion. An army of caring people is building, activating.

As I inhaled the salty air from the Southern Ocean, I thought of just a few of the dramatic changes that have happened so far in 2015:

-Barnum & Bailey Circus has promised to, at long last, retire its elephants.

-The Greyhound racing industry in Australia came to a halt when undercover video exposed leaders illegally baiting dogs with live animals. Sponsors have pulled money, trainers have been banned for life and the entire board of Greyhound Racing Australia NSW was dismissed.

-The city of Madrid, Spain announced that it would no longer euthanize homeless dogs.

-The city of Nashville, Tennessee voted to make it illegal to chain dogs indefinitely.

-In Alabama, a convicted animal abuser received a 99-year jail sentence. Goodbye!

-The city of Palm Beach, Florida banned wild animals for private parties/events.

-Three of the largest food providers; Compass Group, Sodexo, and Aramark announce plans to go cage-free for chickens in the USA.

-Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts announced cage and crate-free policies for hens and sows.

-Shane Rattenbury, a politician, introduced legislation in Australia to ban puppy and kitten farming in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT.) The Domestic Animals (Breeding) Legislation Amendment Bill passed unanimously!

When people gather to do good things, good things happen. Please keep signing petitions, emailing legislators, writing letters to judges, contacting newspaper and television reporters, and supporting charities. Thank you for being part of the wave of compassion.

Photo: Blaine Zuver

Love Has No Boundaries

LOVE is not defined by size or shape.  I love the Divinity of Dogs Facebook page because of its fans. They’re crazy for dogs and are always eager to help make the world a better place for them. But every now and then a nasty comment pops up out of nowhere like a dark cloud. This week someone posted a comment about a photo of my dogs saying: “Pretty little Hand bag Dogs, but just pretty. Not real Dogs, stop this silly fluffy stuff.”

Her unenlightened comment has prompted me to tell you a story.

It’s a special week in my house. It’s the annual week that everyone came home. Honey is on the right and she’s pure sweetness. Honey’s blind in one eye and is deaf. She’s showing early signs of kidney failure. I think she’s about 13 years old. I rescued her three years ago this week from the pound where she was patiently waiting for someone to claim her. But they didn’t. On the left, the guy with the under bite is Sunny. Sunny joined the family two years ago after being dropped off at the Dogs’ Refuge Home.   The person who delivered him, a Nanny, said she’d been told to get rid of him “before the children got home.”  She said he’d lived outside for the first year and a half of his life by himself and had never been allowed inside.  He was matted. He hadn’t been trained or loved. He didn’t know what another dog was and he didn’t trust people. In the middle of this photo is a little dog named Happy. She didn’t look like this when I met her. She looked like one of the worst neglect cases that are now all too commonly seen on Facebook. She was matted, flea-infested, riddled with ear and tooth infections, was loaded with mammary cancer and was suffering from 30 minute-long epileptic seizures. She’d run away from her abusers seven times over a period of eight weeks, each time ending up at the dog pound only to be returned to her house of hell by a well-meaning dogcatcher. But the last time she was taken back, her abusers were asked to pay the pound fees. They refused, throwing this tiny dog into the air and kicking her like a football into the street.

When I walked into the Refuge one Saturday morning to walk dogs, this precious gift looked at me with excitement and screamed telepathically, “It’s you! Finally! Come get me out of here!” I did as I was told and the rest is an even longer story. But you’ve got the picture. Happy joined the family one year ago. She was not expected to live the full year but here she is and she’s going strong.

I choose to rescue dogs and they always bring extraordinary gifts into my world. Honey has injected sweetness into my life. Sunny has been converted into a cuddler, and Happy… Happy is my joy.

Love has no boundaries. Anyone who has known the love of another species knows this truth. –Jennifer Skiff

Sunny, Happy, Honey

Sunny, Happy, Honey