Saturday is National Dog Day, a great time to adopt that adorable mutt you've been looking at or to spoil your own canine companion even more than usual, assuming that's possible.
"Dogs are amazing, courageous, sensitive and sentient beings that deserve compassion and respect," said animal rescue advocate and author Colleen Paige, who started the day in 2004. "Please consider bringing what was once considered 'unwanted love,' into your heart and home on National Dog Day!"
It's especially important to consider adopting a dog in the Sunshine State. Florida ranks fourth in the U.S. for animal shelter deaths, according to theBest Friends Animal Society. The organization says for every 10 dogs that enter an animal shelter here, only four are adopted. The rest are euthanized.
What is National Dog Day?
National Dog Day was established to celebrate all dogs of any breed, mixed or pure, and to "help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year and acknowledge family dogs and dogs that work selflessly each day to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort," according to nationaldogday.com.
The day also honors dogs that protect us, guide us, help us aid in law enforcement, help find victims in accident and disaster wreckage, and even help detect cancer and seizures. In 2013, the New York State Senate issued a resolution commemorating the day "for our long connection to each other; and for their endearing patience, unquestioning loyalty, for their work, their capacity for love and their ability to impact our lives everyday in the most miraculous ways," and for "the selfless service of search and rescue dogs at Ground Zero."
Paige has also founded other holidays such as National Puppy Day, National Mutt Day and National Cat Day.
When is National Dog Day?
National Dog Day is on Saturday, Aug. 26. Paige chose the date to honor the day her family adopted their first dog, "Sheltie," from the local shelter when Paige was 10.
How can I celebrate National Dog Day?
1. Adopt a dog from your local shelter
The single biggest thing you can do to celebrate dogs is to save one's life. Visit your local animal shelter and look for the one(s) that will melt your heart and become your faithful companion.
A March poll from the American Psychiatric Association showed that furry friends provide positive impacts on mental health by helping reduce stress and anxiety, providing unconditional love and support, offering companionship, providing a calming presence and being a true friend.
"All a dog wants to do is love you and be loved by you," Paige said.
Dogs also encourage you to exercise, enhance family and social relationships, and get you to laugh more.
The National Dog Day site discourages adoption from puppy mills, backyard breeders, the internet and newspaper ads. Instead, stick with shelters or large chain pet stores that host adoption drives for local shelters.
2. Take your dog out for a treat
Lots of places are offering special deals for National Dog Day. Note that deals may not be available at all locations.
- Krispy Kreme is offering Pup'kin Spice Doggie Doughnuts through Aug. 31.
- Scooter's Coffee has Pumpkin Spice Pup Cups made of all dog-friendly ingredients.
- Shake Shack has a year-round dog menu but on Saturday you can buy a shake and get a Pooch-ini dog biscuit for free.
- One of the items on Dairy Queens' secret menu is the Pup Cup, a small serving of vanilla ice cream and possibly a dog treat on top.
- Participating Brusters Real Ice Cream locations will get your dog a free Doggie Sundae.
- Some Culver's locations may offer dog biscuits, and some even throw in a scoop of vanilla custard.
- Insiders know that Starbucks has a Puppuccino (a cup of whipped cream) in its secret menu, according to starbuckssecretmenu.com.
- They're not offering specific treats for dogs, but if you order an iced latte through the Dunkin' app Saturday, they'll donate $1 to support the Dogs for Joy Program to bring more full-time service dogs to children's hospitals.
Before you let your dog chow down on big bowls of ice cream, remember that milk and ice cream is safe for most dogs in small quantities only. It's high in fat and natural sugars, according to the American Kennel Club, and too much can cause "unpleasant reactions." Some dogs are lactose intolerant and shouldn't have any at all.
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3. Make your home dog-safe
Dogs, especially puppies, are curious. The American Humane Society offers these tips to help keep them safe.
- Use childproof latches on cabinets little paws can reach.
- Store medications, cosmetics, cleaners, chemicals and laundry supplies on high shelves.
- Keep trash cans covered or in a latched cabinet.
- Block small spaces a pet can crawl into.
- Move electrical wires out of reach of chewing teeth.
- Some common household plants are poisonous to dogs. Keep them well out of the way.
4. Donate to local shelters: Money, supplies, your time
Even if you can't take a dog right now, you can help out. Shelters can always use help.
- Durable, dishwasher-safe toys, tennis balls, Frisbees, puppy-safe chew toys
- Soft toys, if your shelter accepts them (some don't)
- New, unopened bags of treats of all kinds
- Creamy, xylitol-free peanut butter
- Cleaning supplies, towels, blankets
- Dog-friendly grooming supplies
- Collars, leashes, harnesses
- Crates, carriers, dog beds, mats
- Office supplies
- Gift cards to pet and grocery stores, or just cash
- Your time. Animal shelters always need volunteers to help out, walk dogs, interact with the animals, help clean animals and kennels and more.
Check with your local shelter to see what they need the most of right now.
5. Share pictures of your dog for others to enjoy
Approximately 85% of your phone is composed of pictures of your dog anyway. Why not share them?
6. Buy your dog a new toy. Or ten.
Doesn't your dog deserve a new toy?
- DoorDash is offering 50% off all Petco orders of $25 or more made through their app or website from Aug. 21 to Aug. 27.
- PetSmart has deals going all August for Anything for Dogs Month.
- BarkBox, a subscription service that sends your dog new toys and treats every month, is offering the first box for $5 with a multi-month subscription in honor of the day.
- For a limited time, Chewy.com is offering a free $30 eGift card with a $100 purchase. Use the code BOOP at checkout.
7. Donate to charity
There are plenty of worthy charities helping dogs of all types. Here are just a few:
- Friends of Animals and the Humane League help free animals from cruelty and exploitation.
- PetSmart Charities work find lifelong homes for all pets.
- The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and Guide Dogs for the Blind train and place guide dogs for people who are blind or vision-impaired.
- Patriot Service Dogs and K9s for Warriors are both Florida-based services that provide trained service dogs to military veterans.
- Project Chance is a Florida-based service that trains service dogs specifically to help children diagnosed with autism or developmental disabilities.
There are many, many more. Check with your veterinarian or a local shelter for suggestions.
8. Take your dog out for a special day
What your dog wants most of all is time with you. Why not spend the day enjoying your friendship? Hit the dog park, go for a long hike, play in the backyard, or cuddle up all afternoon.
Many downtown areas provide dog-friendly shopping and dining, and Florida has lots of dog-friendly beaches up and down the coast.