By Kim Boatman for The Dog Daily
Held the last week of September, National Dog Week dates back to the late 1920s or early 1930s, although it is unclear exactly when and where it began. One account attributes National Dog Week to a group of dog fanciers who wanted to promote better care of the animals.
The focus this year is on recognizing the value of good ol’ mutts as pets, says Mark Lynn, executive producer of Red Scooter Dog, a marketing consultancy and public relations firm that is sponsoring the week. “We’re really into dogs here, and we want people to know that mixed-breed dogs make great pets,” says Lynn. “That’s the big message. I call mine a ‘muttigree.’”
Make National Dog Week Special
There’s much you can do to celebrate with your dog and make it feel super special. Here are our top seven favorite ideas.
1. Turn the routine into ritual. “A dog’s life really revolves around ritual: the morning walk, mealtime, when their human companion comes home,” says Dorry Bless , who helps her clients craft personalized rituals and ceremonies. “Celebrating your rituals brings great richness to both dog and human alike.”
2. Tell your dog’s story. Share your dog’s history or some special action or accomplishment with friends and family via email, letter or Facebook. Create a family dog tree, documenting your family’s canines through the generations, including names, dates and doggie tall tales, suggests Bless.
3. Give your dog the spa treatment. Do you put off that messy but much-needed dog bath? Set time aside during National Dog Week for a thorough cleaning, advises Martha Ciske, owner of 8-year-old basset hound Glory and a regular volunteer for dog organizations in Orlando, Fla. “Bath time is a great way to bond with a good sudsy massage, while checking your dog for any bumps, lumps and those nasty bugs like ticks or fleas,” she says. Splurge on special shampoo, and look for a shop in your area with a dog-washing facility if you want to avoid the mess at home and save your back.
4. Make a doggy date. Treat your dog to a fancy new collar and plan a date to a local restaurant that welcomes pets. Check EddieEatsOut.com for restaurants that make a special effort for dogs. The site includes eateries in New York City, California, Maine, Delaware and Florida.
5. Help dogs help others. Gabriel’s Angels in Phoenix offers pet therapy for abused, neglected and at-risk children, nurturing their ability to love and trust by having them work with animals. “When celebrating or honoring our beloved dogs, we also must celebrate the affect they have on humans -- especially children,” says Leslie Sonnenklar, a Gabriel’s Angels board member. Consider volunteering with an organization like Gabriel’s Angels. You can also purchase Angel Wings certificates through the group to honor others and support the charity.
6. Help other dog owners. Because of the economy, many dog owners may be struggling to either keep their pet or to provide adequate care and medical attention, says Amy D. Shojai, a certified animal behavior consultant and the author of more than 20 dog and cat care books. Consider holding a dog walk to raise funds for a local veterinary clinic’s Good Samaritan fund, intended to assist needy dog owners in paying for medical care, suggests Shojai. Or collect dog food for local pantries, since their clients often have pets as well.
7. Add to your family.Consider adopting another dog or convincing a friend to adopt a dog from a shelter, says Lynn. “Dogs like friends. If you get one, why not get two?” If you can’t adopt, consider making a donation to your local shelter, whether it’s cash, bags of food or even old towels and sheets.
Most of all, remember that your dog is a treasured family member that deserves to be celebrated, says Lynn. Whether you do something special for your dog or for other dogs, you’ll be honoring that relationship.
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.