Making an Impact – Part 2: Use Your Passions to Influence Positive Change

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

I am a writer and a speaker. Through these endeavors, I can make an impact. But, I also make an impact by my deeds.

My passion is pets, and I help various rescue groups. One way I assist is by transporting adoptable animals for different organizations. The middle of October I drove a Great Dane to Sheridan, about 160 miles north of Casper (where I live), and met the couple who was adopting him. I helped make that adoption happen for Big Dogs Huge Paws in conjunction with other transporters who brought the dog out of his foster home in Colorado. While in Sheridan, I met up with a woman who was transporting and transferring a Newfoundland from a shelter in Montana to Big Ceclia transport_Big Dogs Huge PawsDogs Huge Paws for foster care and eventual adoption. Went north with one dog, returned south with another. I transport for various rescue groups when they have need for someone in central Wyoming and I’m available. I’ve helped English Springer Spaniel Rescue, Big Dogs Huge Paws, Boston Terrier Rescue, and others. I find great joy in knowing a dog’s life was saved through rescue and adoption and that I can have a part in that wonderful work.

I also support such organizations by donating a percentage of my book sales to them. Because pet rescue and adoption are my passions, and because I write inspirational dog stories for children and adults, I named my business, Waggin’ Tales. I therefore associate rescue endeavors with my writing and speaking business, so it’s only logical to “tithe” part of my earnings back to groups who do such great work – saving and helping companion animals.

Best Friends SignMy husband and I recently spent time at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, located in southwestern Utah. The organization began more than 30 years ago with a few couples who shared a common vision: ending the killing of healthy dogs and cats by saving lives through medical treatment and procedures and through adoption. To say these people had purpose, passion, and perseverance is an understatement! Now, more than 30 years later, they are growing, with offices and adoption centers in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and soon New York City. Best Friends impacts and empowers a movement. Through their endeavors and services, individuals and organizations can take part in conferences and educational workshops to grow or begin their own pet rescue groups, rippling the effect and mantra of “No More Homeless Pets” and “No Kill.” While at the site last weekend, I volunteered at Cat World – I spent time playing with and loving on several cats in need of new homes, and even walked a cat on a leash on the sanctuary grounds and took two others on strolls through the woods in baby/cat buggies! The day was filled with sunshine, blue sky, and twittering birds, appealing to both me and the cats! I definitely plan to return and volunteer again one day – and for a longer stretch than I was able to do last weekend!

Chet Cat in Buggy_smallerAs writers, we are able to make an impact, and coupled with our words, our actions and our deeds can influence positive change. Just as the founders of Best Friends, and the countless others who are involved in pet rescue have helped reduce the killing/euthanasia of healthy animals from 17 million during the 1970s to about 5 million today, we can all work together for the good of humanity and all of creation. Yet, as with that 5 million number, we can still do much better – and together, bonded by a common cause, purpose and passion, we will. But, to make that happen we need to inspire others: not yell, name-call, spit, and hate, but bind together in unity, as people who share a planet with each other and with animals.

Today I’m speaking with two groups of students at a private school. I’ll be talking about how humans interact with the environment and how we share things in common with nature and pets (the needs for food, water, and shelter, for example). I’m looking forward to hopefully positively influencing these kids because they are the tomorrow’s decision-makers … as well as influencers upon their peers and their families right now. I want these kids to know and appreciate the beauty of nature, the intelligence and sweet companionship of pets, and to appreciate both. I hope I can make that impact upon them… and on others in the future.

That impact can be upon strangers, our families, friends, even our pets. Our dog Cody became very ill the day prior to our scheduled leaving SW Utah. We rushed home (as rushing as one can do on a 13-hour drive) and got him into our vet the next morning. We’ve since learned CoCody at Best Friends_smallerdy has a mass on his spleen — not operable at age 17 1/2, so it’s just a matter of time. Cody has been our dog for nearly eight years, and though somewhat plagued with health issues, especially after about age 14, I believe Greg and I have made a positive impact on his life, especially to have lived this long — mCody_Porchany dogs don’t make it to 17+. We will continue to cherish and spoil him for as long as he is with us. Perhaps taking him to Best Friends and having this one last big adventure, will provide that big doggie smile til the very end.

How do you stir up and use your passions to influence positive change in your community, your state, your region, this country and/or around the world? Writers give voice through words on a page and from chapters in their own lives – add the written word to actions and you, too, can instigate a major movement for the common good!

Gayle and Chet Cat_Buggy_Best FriendsGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, Creation Illustrated, and Our Town Casper magazines, and for the Casper Journal and River Press newspapers. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Walking_FrontCover_small   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final    Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice CoverCody Cabin_New Book CoverImage


22 thoughts on “Making an Impact – Part 2: Use Your Passions to Influence Positive Change

  1. Gayle, you are correct. We have the ability to connect with young and old, and to assist in the gift of learning they take. I wish you the best as you and your ‘assistants’ offer your gifts to others. Doris


    1. Doris, I would never have dreamed about 40 years ago that I’d be speaking to groups of children or adults — I HATED public speaking! 🙂 And though sometimes I still feel nervous, when one is passionate about the subject matter, the task becomes easier. I know you share your passions through writing and speaking as well, and one day I hope to see one of your performances! I appreciate your kind words!!


  2. You are doing wonderful work. I encourage everyone I know to spay and neuter their pets. I wish it were cheaper, more people would do it. I envy the platform you have worked so hard to build. I hope someday writing and art will be my full time occupation. Cher’ley


    1. Thank you, Cherley, for all you do for pets as well! I wish writing was my fulltime occupation, but alas, I just work nearly 24-7 at ALL my various jobs! (or so it seems! LOL) I feel blessed and fulfilled to do most of what I do, but I am going to have to make some changes in the New Year because the old gray mare just ain’t what she used to be! 🙂 Thanks again for stopping by to comment.


  3. That’s so great that you can combine your passion with good works. In the past I did newsletters for three different equestrian groups – helpful to other people enjoying our mutual passion, but not exactly a “good deed.” Of course I’ve volunteered for the Red Cross and literacy groups, but those weren’t part of my passion. Given health issues right now, the best I can do is hopefully open readers minds to the advantages of alternative/complementary medical techniques when I write about them in my stories.
    Good luck with all your projects.


    1. Kate, I believe whatever “good” we do is good, no matter if it connects with our passion or not. Your work with literacy and the Red Cross is to be commended, and helping with the newsletters certainly assisted the group you worked with. I know I’m blessed to be able to connect my writing with my pet passion and to be able to help various organizations and educate people — I try to not take it for granted. I wish I had a bigger platform to make an even greater impact, but where I am now is where I am to be and who knows what the future will bring? Best to you as you face health challenges and I know whatever you do will have a great impact on those around you! Hugs, Gayle


  4. You’re doing such a wonderful job, Gayle. I guess my only contribution to the community is doing my talks about my passion which is history and Roman Scotland. For most of these I get no fee, so they are voluntary.


    1. Nancy, the educator in you comes through in your books, your talks, and your life, and that is a very positive thing. I am inspired by you and all the great marketing of your work that you do — you are a teacher as well in that respect to many of us authors, and I thank you! Continued blessings in your works and writings!


  5. You inspire me with your pet rescue efforts and involvement. I wish I could say the same about myself. Besides writing, my passions are dogs and literacy/reading. Perhaps writing glowing reviews of books that I love for the store newsletter or Goodreads counts for something, I don’t know. I absolutely love buying kids’ books and giving them to friends’ kids to encourage them to read. I guess volunteering my time as a board member for Sisters in Crime for the past 6 years has been another way of giving back to an organization that launched my writing career. But you’ve inspired me to volunteer more of my time to dog rescue groups. I do hope Cody is doing OK and is as comfortable as he can be. 17+ years is a long happy life for a pup. Thanks for a wonderful post, Gayle!


    1. Thank you, Sarah, for your kind words and thoughts for me and Cody. I do encourage you, if you love dogs, to get involved with rescue in your area; there are many in California, including Best Friends in the LA area — they’ve done great work and could use more volunteers, I’m sure. Don’t spread yourself too thin, though, and your work with literacy and encouraging reading, as well as writing, is very commendable! There are so many opportunities for each of us to make an impact — we just need to find the right niche or two and be the best we can at it, including our writing. I do appreciate your comments and reading my post!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Gayle, you inspire me, and although I think I’ve said this before, you are selfless and a wonderful example to others. Although I know you do none of this for your own glory, you have touched so many people with your passion for animals and books. I’m sorry to hear about Cody, but I know he has had a wonderful home and you’ll have such wonderful memories. My goal is to spread awareness about mental health (esp Bipolar Disorder) and to speak and write about the subject. I certainly have lots of information!


    1. I applaud your work, Linda — mental health is such an important topic and one that needs greater enlightenment and advocacy. Thank you for your kind words and good thoughts for Cody — it’s difficult to travel this road, but one a person cannot avoid, regarding either pets or other humans. I am thankful for the years we’ve shared, for the years I’ve shared with all of my animals, and I’m thankful God opened the door for me to create books by which legacy and inspiration can continue after they’ve passed.


    1. Thank you, Mike — I wish I could do more and perhaps, one day in the future, my platform will have expanded and I will be able to have a larger impact. For now, at least I’m able to do a little something and for that, I’m grateful. I appreciate your kind words very much!


  7. You’ve made me think. I do charitable work through my church, but I hadn’t thought of how I could use my writing as a platform.


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