By Dr. Becker
National Dog Day – also known as International Dog Day, World Dog Day, and National Dog Appreciation Day – was founded in 2004 by Colleen Paige, an animal behaviorist and author, and is celebrated each year on August 26th.
The purpose of National Dog Day is to remind people of the number of dogs needing rescue each year, and to acknowledge the role of family dogs and working dogs in our lives.
In the words of Ms. Paige:
“I founded National Dog Day in 2004 to honor dogs… for their endearing patience, unquestioning loyalty, for their work protecting our streets, homes and families as Police K-9’s, Military Working Dogs, Guide Dogs, and Therapy Dogs.
I want the world to celebrate dogs for their capacity to love and their ability to impact our lives everyday in the most miraculous ways.
I want this to be a day to encourage dog ownership of all breeds, mixed and pure – to help abolish puppy mills and end breed specific legislation so we can create a world where all dogs (and every animal) can live a happy, safe and ‘abuse-free life.'”
Ways to Celebrate National Dog Day
The National Dog Day website offers a list of ways to celebrate today, including these:
- Adopt a dog from your local shelter or rescue organization.
Alternatives: Volunteer at your local shelter and offer to walk or play with a dog, clean cages, or anything else they need help with. Donate blankets, food, and toys to animal welfare organizations.
- Organize a peaceful demonstration in front of your community pet store that sells puppies.
Alternative: Write your congressman and ask that he/she support the ban of puppy mills and gas chambers in your state.
- Have a National Dog Day party and invite all your friends and their dogs!
- Spend the day taking photos of your dog.
Alternative: Hire a professional pet photographer for a fun photo shoot. Have a portrait painted of your dog to suspend the fleeting magic of dogdom.
- Assist an ill or elderly neighbor by walking their dog.
- Buy your dog a fun new dog toy… or two… or five.
Alternative: Buy your dog a fashionable collar and leash.
- Give your dog some fun exercise by taking him or her to a doggy play resort.
Alternative: Take your dog to the beach.
- Brush your dog to eliminate excess fur.
Alternative: Give your dog a massage or holistic spa treatment.
- Teach your dog a new trick.
Considering Adoption? One of These Dogs Would Love to Come Home with You
If you’re thinking about adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue organization as a way to celebrate National Dog Day, I hope you’ll keep in mind that certain kinds of pets – through no fault of their own – have a much harder time finding a new home than others.
By far the pets least likely to find new families to love are older pets, followed by animals with medical problems, dogs suffering from breed prejudice (primarily pit bulls), shy pets, and pets that need to be the only animal in the home.
Large dogs, black dogs, and pets with special needs also tend to languish in shelters much longer, and are euthanized more often, than animals considered more desirable by adoptive families.
10 Reasons to Open Your Heart to a Senior Dog Today
- Older dogs have manners. Unlike puppies, many grown-up dogs have spent years living with a family and being socialized to life with humans. They may have received obedience training and respond to commands like Sit, Stay, and Down. Many are house trained and it takes a matter of hours or a day or two to help them learn the potty rules in their new home.
- Senior pets are less destructive. Most older adoptive pets are well past the search-and-destroy phase. You don’t need to worry so much about finding your favorite pair of shoes or a table leg chewed beyond recognition. Chances are your senior kitty has no urge to overturn your potted plant or shred the handmade quilt your grandma gave you.
- What you see is what you get. A senior pet holds no surprises as to how big he might get, what color his adult coat will be, or whether his hips will be healthy. A senior pet comes to you with his own history, which makes his future much more predictable than that of an 8-week old puppy or kitten.
- You can teach an old dog new tricks. Adult dogs can focus on the task at hand (unlike many of their much younger counterparts). If your adopted older pet needs to learn a few things in her new life with you, not to worry. Enroll her in an obedience class, contact a trainer, or go the do-it-yourself route. Older dogs are more attentive than puppies, and more eager to please their humans.
- You can custom order your senior pet. If you’re looking for a short-haired cat, for example, or a kitty with no history of dental disease, you can search until you find an older pet with exactly those attributes. If you already have a cat and need your adoptive dog to get along with cats, again, you’ll have a much better chance of finding an older adoptive dog who is a perfect companion for your family.
- You can adopt a purebred pet if you want. If you really love a certain breed of dog or cat, chances are there’s a breed rescue club that can point you in the direction of older purebred pets in need of homes.
- Senior pets are great company for senior citizens. Many elderly people find the calm presence of an older pet very comforting. They appreciate having a companion who is also “getting up there” in age, doesn’t mind hearing the same stories again and again, and is content to move through life at a slower speed.
- Older pets are relaxing to hang out with. Senior dogs and cats have all the basics down and aren’t full of wild energy to burn. Because you’re not constantly chasing around or cleaning up after your older pet, you have a lot more time to spend finding fun things to do or just relaxing together.
- Adopted senior pets are grateful for your kindness. Somehow, older pets seem to know you gave them a home when no one else would. Many new owners form a close bond very quickly with their senior dog or cat, because the pet shows them a level of attention and devotion that is unique to older adopted animals.
- You can be a hero to a deserving dog or cat. Almost without exception, people who adopt older animals feel a special sense of pride and purpose in opening their heart to a hard-to-place pet. Doing a good thing really does make you feel good!