We’ve shared our life with dogs for several thousands of years. Dogs keep us company, make us laugh and comfort us when we’re having a bad day. They help us feel safe in our homes, save our lives by finding us in the rubble after an earthquake or by detecting bombs, cancer or a change in our blood glucose levels. Dogs help people manage disabilities, regain autonomy and offer support to autistic children. We appreciate dogs for their loyalty, for the love, the patience and forgiveness they show us every day. Dogs impact our wellbeing, our health and our lives in so many ways that it’s only fair that we celebrate them, in this special way, once a year. Thanks to Colleen Paige, August 26th is now the National Dog Day!
Dog lovers across the world are invited to mark this day by giving back to our canine companions. We can take our dog on his favorite walk, adopt a dog from a shelter, donate dog toys and equipment to local rescue group, dog proof our pool, pledge to include our dog in our family outings, or by donating money, or our time, to our local shelter. The National Dog Day website http://www.nationaldogday.com offers a list of 50 ideas to celebrate our dogs and contribute to making their lives better.
Most importantly, National Dog Day is about finding ways to alleviate some of the difficult situations many dogs have to endure. We all know that millions of dogs are surrendered to the pound every year and that almost half of those will be euthanized for no fault of their own. Unfortunately, it’s easy to become numb and push the overwhelming situation to the back our mind. After all, the problem is so huge that any effort feels like a drop in the ocean. Even more disturbing is the fact that these dogs end up at the pound because we love them. Without dog lovers, there wouldn’t be a dog overpopulation, so what are we doing?
We all need to make a personal choice of what we can do to help dogs. In my own small way, what I’ve decided to do is to work with rescue dogs when training dogs for diabetes alert and seizures. There are thousands of stories of people making a difference in the life of animals. From large SPCAs and Humane Societies across the country to small rescue organizations or individuals:
- Lori Fusaro, for instance, started a book about aging dogs when she met Sunny, a 16 year old Bulldog/pitbull mix. She was taking pictures of dogs for the Los Angeles shelter. Sunny was lethargic, depressed and sick. She had cancer and infected eyes and had been dropped off by her family who probably couldn’t handle the medical costs. Fusaro realized that many dogs were in the same situation and decided to adopt Sunny and publish a book, ‘Silver Hearts, to develop awareness about aging dogs and raise funds to help rescue organizations that save them.
- Shannon Keith founded Beagle freedom Project a foundation focused on rescuing dogs after they’ve lost their usefulness in laboratories testing for cosmetics or chemicals. Davey was one of those dogs. Sold by a breeder as a young puppy, he spent 7 years being tested on. Typically put down after they’ve lost their use, BFP, takes laboratory dogs in, works on socializing them and placing them as adjusted pets in good homes.
These are just a couple of many heartwarming stories of people going out of their way to help abandoned and abused dogs. We can always do more, all it takes is one step further.
Most shelter and rescue dogs have all the qualities to make great companions or even working dogs. The goal of National Dog Day is to save 10.000 dogs a day. We can all contribute, even if it’s in a small way, from the choices we make, the small donations we give, the way we treat our dogs and the information we spread. What will you do August 26th? Let us know about someone you know who’s inspiring story should be known and/or let us know how you think we can make a difference in the lives of our canine friends.
Because dogs are worth it!
Jennifer Cattet Ph.D.