Have you ever seen those photos or videos of two completely different animal species helping one another? It happens throughout nature and across continents. In forests, woodpeckers and tree ants maintain an amicable coexistence in which the ants allow woodpeckers to lay eggs in their nests, but instead of eating the eggs, the ants wait for them to hatch and scavenge up morsels of food dropped by the newly hatched woodpeckers.
Under the sea, remora fish attach themselves to the sides and underbellies of sharks. Then, in exchange for the free ride and dropped bits of food, remoras remove irritating parasites from the shark’s skin and mouth. In Africa, Egyptian plovers and crocodiles enjoy a similar relationship in which the small bird cleans the croc’s teeth of leftover food, while the hard-of-hearing ostrich and vision-impaired zebra are known to rely on the other’s stronger senses to warn one another of potential threats or dangers.
All animals are involved in symbiotic relationships—a win-win connection.
As people, being kind to one another can loosely be seen as symbiotic as well. Being kind is transformative—and not just for humans. You can extend your kindness to the animals in your life. No, you don’t need to clean a shark’s skin like the remora fish or pick food out of a crocodile’s teeth, but you can go beyond just feeding your cat or dog.
Try walking your dog on a new route or make time to play games with your cat. Maybe there is a nearby animal shelter that needs help or even a special pet that needs a forever home. Take this opportunity to extend some human kindness to our furry friends. After all, they love us unconditionally and we can do the same.
Low. Donate money or supplies to your local animal shelter, service animal nonprofit or rescue organization. Most shelters list needed items on their website. It’s easy to make a gift via the UW Combined Fund Drive. Just enter ‘animal shelter’ in the keyword search to find your favorite cause.
Medium. Go that extra mile for your pet. Take her on a longer walk than usual and spend more time petting her. No pet of your own? Offer to pet sit and spend quality time with a friend or neighbor’s beloved member of the family.
High. If you can’t adopt a pet, connect with your local animal shelter or service animal organization to find out how you can help. Conduct a supply drive, volunteer as a dog walker, or even help someone clean a stable. In making a positive difference for animals, you also impact the lives of the people who care for them.
This is the tenth installment in the Every Monday Matters series. UW Combined Fund Drive is partnering with Every Monday Matters, a nonprofit committed to inspiring a new normal where people understand how and why they matter to themselves, the community, and the world.