Give from the heart on Giving Tuesday

 

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As everyone recuperates from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, today is #GivingTuesday, a great opportunity to give back to your community. You can search for nonprofits in your neighborhood, explore volunteer opportunities, or donate to a charity or organization that has impacted your life.

One of the organizations I support is Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs. And through today, every donation made will be matched dollar for dollar up to the first $20,000.

Now’s the time to help others! Find out more at Give a Dog a Job and check out Giving Tuesday

 

DPD freeway rescue saves dog, drivers from disaster

HOV pooch

The Dallas police department rescued a German Shepherd that was found wandering on I-35 during rush hour traffic on Wednesday morning. Lucky dog, fortunate motorists!

Here’s the full story: Dog freeway rescue

 

How to persuade: The #1 tip for speakers

Levi 3“Hello, my name is ________ and I’m here today to tell you about ________.”

If I’m in the audience and that’s the first thing I hear, I usually tune out, regardless of  how interesting or compelling the topic might be. If you don’t grab my attention at the start, I probably won’t listen very carefully to whatever else you have to say, if at all.

The introduction to a speech — any speech — is critical. This is the moment when listeners will either connect to what you have to say — and take notice — or take a mental holiday.

Let’s say you’re giving a speech to persuade. By the end of the presentation, you want audience members to do something. Maybe you want them to sign a petition, vote for a particular candidate, send a letter to government representatives or other stakeholders, support a cause, take part in a rally or contribute money to a charity. Regardless of the specific request, you want to encourage listeners to act. That’s much less likely to happen if you don’t engage the audience at the very beginning of your speech.

For example, if I was giving a speech to persuade residents in a Dallas neighborhood to donate money or volunteer their time to support the efforts of a nonprofit organization helping rescue stray dogs in the area,* here’s how I might begin my talk (keep in mind I’m focusing on content here, not delivery — that’s another article or blog post):

When I first saw this creature one night — I wasn’t sure exactly what it was — it seemed to be hiding behind a car across the street from my apartment. There was no street light, so things were shadowy. Then I heard a soft, low noise that sounded like a whimper. As I looked more closely, I could see a nose, then a small paw. Then a quivering, wire-haired animal with a long tail inched out unsteadily from behind the car’s back tire. It was a dog. That’s how I met Fido, and I could tell he needed help.”

A brief story using imagery like this can capture attention. Immediately after reciting this short narrative, I might project an image of Fido as part of a continuing PowerPoint presentation. Subsequent portions of an introduction would include a statement of proposition (“Every dog like Fido deserves a chance to be happy, healthy and loved, and you can help”), followed by a preview of the main points you’ll cover in the body of your speech.

Of course, there are other ways to lead into your speech. You can cite compelling statistics or facts, use an analogy, offer expert opinion or testimony, make a startling statement, or use humor (if appropriate). Whatever approach you decide to take, consider your audience. Why are they listening to you? What will be most relevant to them? How can you get — and keep — the audience’s attention?

Your presentation may be packed full of awesome information, but no one will appreciate that if they checked out about the time you said “hello.” Make your introduction unforgettable. The odds are that listeners will remember that speech and you, too. Better yet, they’ll be persuaded to do what you asked.

*Duck Team 6 searches for elusive dogs that need to be rescued and off the streets. Find out more here. The dog pictured in this post is Levi, my terrier mix. He was adopted from Operation Kindness, a no-kill shelter.

Cruelty to animals at veterinary clinic defies description

 

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If you don’t know already, there’s one thing you should realize about me. I love animals, dogs in particular. That’s why the recent news about the veterinarian in Fort Worth is so horrifying.

Dr. Millard L. Tierce of the Camp Bowie Animal Clinic was arrested this week on an animal cruelty charge, stemming from the lack of care given to his personal pet, a border collie kept at the clinic. The arrest warrant is chilling. He surrendered to the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department about 7 p.m. Wednesday and was released soon after on a $10,000 bond. But there’s more, much more. A family says instead of euthanizing their sick pet the vet secretly kept the dog alive for blood transfusions.

A long-time vet, Dr. Tierce has his supporters. I’m sure throughout his career he’s helped some of his patients and pet parents, but that doesn’t excuse what’s come to light. Admittedly, why some of these dog owners didn’t ask questions in a timely manner when things seemed suspicious is worthy of discussion. Why some of the Clinic’s employees didn’t speak up, surely aware of what was happening, is also baffling to me. (The “whistleblower” in this case is a former Clinic employee.)

Horrifying? Yes. Unconscionable? Yes. Scary? Yes.

But does it really matter what word, or words, we use to describe this? Righteous indignation? Oh, yes.

How do I feel? Just plain sad.