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.
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.