By Kim Boatman for The Dog Daily
National Dog Day on August 26 offers the opportunity to celebrate not only your pooch, but also dogs everywhere. While National Dog Day founder Colleen Paige worked as a paramedic in Los Angeles, she saw many dogs requiring better care. Paige, now an animal behaviorist and author, created National Dog Day to highlight what we can do to help support, rescue and protect dogs in need.
“It’s a day to be grateful for all the wonderful things dogs bring into our lives … the unconditional love, the companionship,” says Paige.
What You Should Do
Paige and other experts offer these suggestions:
- Plan an outing. Host a barbecue or picnic that includes other “dog friends.” Your dog will enjoy your undivided attention. Feeling ambitious? Try a getaway to a dog-friendly hotel or resort.
- Shop for toys. Dogs can be rough on their toys, and tattered toys pose a risk to your dog’s health, says Paige. Make a habit of tossing the old toys and replacing with a new batch of intriguing toys each National Dog Day.
- Prepare for emergencies. Show your love by taking a pet first-aid course, advises Melanie Monteiro, author of The Safe Dog Handbook: A Complete Guide to Protecting Your Pooch, Indoors and Out. Also, spend five minutes updating your cell phone contact list to include the numbers for your veterinarian, an after-hours veterinarian and poison control center. Plug your dog’s microchip number into your cell.
- Volunteer. Rescue groups and shelters need your help, even if you can’t make a long-term commitment of time or money. “Think locally,” says Sherry Woodard, resident animal behavior consultant for Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah. “Find a way to help your local shelter or rescue group. There are struggling individual rescue groups across the country.”
- Donate. Honor National Dog Day by giving $5 to your local shelter. Many shelters and rescue groups also list needed items, such as blankets and toys, on their websites.
What You Shouldn't Do
National Dog Day also offers an opportunity to review activities that are detrimental to the well-being of dogs, says Paige. Here’s a checklist:
- Don’t support puppy mills. “We want to shut down puppy mills because they overbreed and neglect the animals,” says Paige. Instead of purchasing a dog from a pet store, which is supplied by a puppy mill, consider adopting on National Dog Day.
- Don’t endorse breed-specific legislation. “It is people who make dogs go bad,” says Paige. “We say no to breed bans.” She points out that a few years ago, the National Dog Day canine recognized for heroism was a pit bull.
- Don’t put off spaying or neutering your dog. “A lot of people think, ‘If my dog had one litter, it will be OK,’” says Woodard. Don’t contribute to the overpopulation problem, which leaves so many dogs in need of a home.
- Don’t leave your dog in your car. Many dog owners underestimate just how quickly a car can heat up in the summer. “I passed out at the grocery store and was taken to the emergency room,” says Suzi Carragher, blogger at RedDogInn.com. “Had my dogs been in my car, they would have been in trouble.”
- Don’t drive with your dog unsecured. Too many dog owners still travel with dogs roaming free in the back of pickup trucks. It’s also not a good idea to travel with a dog loose inside your car. If you stop suddenly, your dog may get hurt or interfere with your driving.
Kim Boatman is a journalist based in Northern California. She is also the managing editor of ExceptionalCanine.com. Boatman's work has appeared in The Miami Herald, the Detroit Free Press and the San Jose Mercury News. She is a lifelong lover of animals, and a frequent contributor to The Dog Daily.