Mothers have their special day in May; fathers have their special day in June. Grandparents have their special day in September, and dogs have their special day this month! August is known for the Dog Days of Summer – often hot, and many times muggy – but it’s not just weather which brings out a special recognition. Dogs around the country have their own special day in August. Each August 26 since 2004 organizations and individuals around the country have celebrated National Dog Day.
Started by author and pet lifestyle expert Colleen Paige, National Dog Day was first developed to honor the search and rescue dogs of September 11th. Ms. Paige then turned her attention to the millions of dogs in need of loving, forever homes, and expanded her mission to include encouragement of pet adoption. (see the National Dog Day website: http://www.nationaldogday.com/).
We, too, can celebrate dogs in both a community way and a personal way. Volunteering at the local shelter is a great way to honor National Dog Day, as a family, group, or individual: walking dogs, playing with cats, helping to clean up the area around the shelter, even taking a group of Scouts or other people for a “handyman project” at the facility. In a personal way, do something extra special for and/or with your beloved pet: take a pet-friendly vacation; buy a pet first aid kit; hire a pet photographer to capture a “family portrait;” microchip your dog for its safe return should it become lost. There are numerous ways to celebrate the special dog in your life!
Today, two new Chicken Soup for the Soul books about pets are released: one about dogs, the other about cats. These books particularly advocate the adoption of pets, with a portion of sale proceeds going to the American Humane Association. I have a story in the dog book The Dog Really Did That? about a dog I helped transport for a Colorado-based rescue group. One way I celebrate dogs is to write about them (see my website for the various inspirational pet books for children and adults); this Chicken Soup story, “Jazmine’s Journey,” is my seventh published work for Chicken Soup for the Soul. I’m honored to have several of my stories about pets, mostly rescue/shelter animals, in this internationally-recognized book collection!
Another way I celebrate dogs is to help my local and regional rescue groups through events and transportation needs. I transport for several groups, including Big Dogs Huge Paws and Mid-America Boston Terrier Rescue. And, I donate a percentage of my book sales to area pet rescue organizations.
Another way I celebrate dogs is to take care of my own pets in a variety of ways, and when the time comes to add another furry friend to the household, I adopt through a shelter or rescue. I’m seriously looking now for a new furry friend; my sweet cocker spaniel Cody has been gone for nearly 18 months. Several days a week I spend time searching for that “special someone” and when the opportunity arises for just the right dog (we are a multi-pet household), I will adopt a new four-footed friend.
There are many ways to celebrate the dogs in our lives and to help local, regional, and national animal rescue groups. Whether you donate needed supplies to your local shelter, assist in transporting animals for a regional rescue, or contribute money to a national group (even through purchasing the newly released Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Really Did That? or The Cat Really Did That?) or adopt from a shelter or rescue, you are helping dogs in need. And, you can celebrate your special dog every day simply by just being your pup’s best friend!
As the Dog Days of Summer engage, celebrate the incredible loyalty, friendship, and courage dogs give in your own special way.
Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms. ~ George Eliot
It's been nearly four years since the passing of Sage, my blind Springer Spaniel, and it's been less than two months since Cody, my cocker spaniel, died. I still miss both dogs. Each was a devoted friend, a faithful companion. Dogs are noted as faithful friends to humankind, often being called "man's best friend." Many news stories recount the dedication dogs have for their people, even for strangers. Those who alert humans to seizures, fire and other dangers; those who protect people from intruders; those who travel great distances to be reunited with their human family, and those that save people from drowning and avalanches – we learn about such stories nearly every day. Cats and dogs are used as therapy, serving in hospitals, nursing homes, and counseling centers. Loyalty is inherent in the gift of a four-footed friend.
People could, and should, take lessons from pets in the subject of loyalty. Adultery, lack of romantic commitment, fizzling of friendship, embezzlement, bullying -- all of these negative character traits, among so many others, speak to the nasty side of humankind; these attitudes and actions are not displayed in our furry companions.
What bonds a pet to a person? People are the caregivers of their pets, feeding, exercising, playing, petting, lounging; we are the guardians. The more one positively interacts with their pet, the stronger the bond, just as the longer one befriends a person the deeper the dedication to that friendship. And yet, we humans can turn on each other in the blink of an eye.
When Sage and Cody were alive, if I was gone on a business trip for several days, my dogs would follow me everywhere upon my return. Our dog Mary waits in a chair that's beside the front door, and the minute my husband or I walk in, being gone for part of the day to work, she greets us with a little happy dance ... and one of her favorite toys. Our pets' desire to be with us speaks volumes about their bond to us.
We can learn a lot from our pets, including a great lesson in loyalty. Broken relationships, greed, selfishness and other negative characteristics often found in humans are rarely seen in pets. There’s a saying that goes, “May I become the person my dogs thinks I am.” That plaque hangs on my wall and it's a great reminder to aspire to be exactly that -- the person my pets think I am, the good person they see in and bring out in me.
There is no escaping aging, not for people and not for pets. As with us, when pets get older more health problems arise. Yet, again as with us, there are things we can do to help them age with grace and dignity. Here are some tips:
Older pets give us deep devotion; we should return the sentiment. The Grey Muzzle Organization, dedicated to helping homeless senior dogs, offers a free downloadable e-book on how to care for an older dog. Visit http://www.greymuzzle.org/Resources/Senior-Dog-Care.aspx to get this great resource.
Another great online resource for caring for a senior pet is PetMD: http://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_dg_caring_for_older_dogs_with_health_problems#.
Enjoy the years with your furry friend, no matter its age –loyalty runs in their veins!
Pet owners don’t need a special time to honor and celebrate their pets, but during the month of September the American Kennel Club and other organizations remind owners that dogs are a major responsibility and these groups honor dogs and dog owners in various ways.
National Dog Week is generally observed the last week of September; it's a time when dog owners and various organizations honor dogs. William Judy, who started Dog World Magazine during the 1920s, first set aside this special week as a way to celebrate those special creatures most consider “man’s best friend”.
The American Kennel Club (www.akw.org) honors both dogs and owners during Responsible Dog Ownership Days. The AKC is hosting a major event in North Carolina on September 19, and various AKC chapters will host activities highlighting the joy (and responsibility) of owning a dog throughout September. People and organizations can register the many activities they do with their dogs to impart responsibility. To learn more, visit http://www.akc.org/events/responsible-dog-ownership-days/.
Dogs are fun, dogs are loyal, and dogs are a major responsibility. Sadly, many people ignore that fact and treat their dog like a commodity instead of living, breathing being. That's why we have so many dogs in shelters, thousands of which are killed every day in those facilities. Pet ownership irresponsibility is also why there are so many animal rescue organizations that try to find new homes for abused, unloved, unwanted animals. People need to realize and recognize not everyone needs to, or is cut out to, have a pet. If you can't/won't take care of a dog or cat properly, which means providing it not just food, water and shelter, but also love, loyalty, and attention, then DON'T GET ONE! Get a plant or a pet rock instead.
I have had pets since I was seven years old. I didn't always understand the major responsibility it took to have a pet, but as an adult I learned that responsibility, and I love and appreciate the animals in my care. They bring me joy, companionship, and devotion; they lift my spirits, comfort me when I'm sick, and stick by me when I've felt alone and abandoned by human beings. I am thankful, so very thankful, for my pets!
I enjoy sharing the lessons dogs (and cats) can teach us, and I share many of those lessons (of life and faith) in the books I write and the presentations I give. Dogs and cats have served humankind for thousands of years, from rodent control to family and property protector. Native Americans and other cultures used dogs to transport loads (prior to tribes getting the horse). Still today, dogs serve people in a variety of ways: herding and protecting flocks; finding fowl in the field; guiding the blind; assisting wheel-chair bound individuals; rescuing lost children; and bringing smiles to those in hospital beds. And, still people mistreat, maim, and kill these precious living creatures out of evil, spike, and sometimes just a lack of knowledge. Education and empathy are keys to stopping the cruelty and neglect people still inflict upon dogs and cats, and other animals.
May those of us who cherish and appreciate dogs take time to do something to honor and celebrate canines this month. May we also take time to educate others, especially children, to be kinder to animals and to be responsible pet owners. Consider attending a special event near you for Dog Ownership Responsibility Day and take family members and friends. And may we all do our part to help animals in need by helping rescue groups and shelters in our communities. National Dog Week and Responsible Dog Ownership Days can be the catalyst for positive change in how our society views and treats animals.
Christmas is over. I enjoyed time with family and friends and much of that time was shared with my pets. -- and I still have a few days to be at home with them as we approach the New Year. My furry friends have been, and are, a constant reminder of what love and loyalty really are – the great comfort they bring when one has a stressful or difficult day, the joy they bring because they are always happy to see you, the solace they offer when you're ill, and the special companionship they give just simply by “being there.” Pets are truly amazing creatures!
I have been a pet owner since childhood. Both cats and dogs have graced my life and my home. As a child growing up on an Iowa farm, I spent endless hours outdoors, taking care of the animals and walking the woods surrounding our place. Most times, either a dog or cat accompanied me. Those memories transcend time and impact my life today.
I have an office set up at home, a space I use for my writing projects. I am rarely alone in that room. Furry friends surround me: Cody snoozing on a dog bed a short distance from my desk, Mary lying near the office chair, and Murphy either lying right next to the computer or on her cat bed on top of the printer. Often in the midst of my concentration, I pause and glance over at one or all of them – they want to be where I am. Their loyalty and dedication rivals most human friendships … and their presence brings calm to my often chaotic life, especially when I face deadlines. Yes, pets can be a lot of work – walking the dog, entertaining the cat, taking care of them when they're sick (vet bills can be very expensive!), training, food, etc. … but what they give us in return is priceless!
What bonds a pet to a person? People are the caregivers of their pets, feeding, exercising, playing, petting, lounging; we are the guardians. The more one positively interacts with their pet, the stronger the bond. Loyalty is inherent, especially in a dog.
We can learn a lot from our pets, including lessons in loyalty and love. Broken relationships, greed, selfishness and other negative traits often found in humans are rarely displayed in our pets. There’s a saying that goes, “May I become the person my dogs thinks I am.” Such a plaque hangs on my wall. Such a philosophy reigns in my heart.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.