National Dog Day was this week, honoring the pet that earned the title of “man’s best friend.” I mean… who doesn’t love dogs? They’re loyal, warm, cuddly, and just like a best friend, they know just the right way to cheer up their owner on a gloomy day. Unfortunately, I am not currently a dog owner, and I didn’t own one as a kid, but I still feel a very special relationship to dogs for my own reason.
The relationship between dogs and human beings dates back at least 14,000 years or longer. Originating from wolves, they domesticated over time and have since them become our most beloved companion. There are many reasons people choose to own a dog. I remember toward the end of high school, before I moved out for college, my mom found this beautiful dog. He was a stray, reddish German Shepard, no tags, no collar, so my mom decided to keep him. She named him Red. I moved not long after, and it became apparent to me much later on what this dog did for my mom’s happiness. I was an only child, and my dad was away a lot. When I was moving out on my own for the first time, I was so excited to begin life as an “adult,” I didn’t really think of what an empty house would feel like to my mom. She was so used to me being there every day of her life for 18 years, and we always talked about our day, and kept each other company in general. Her new found friendship with this dog, Red, was just what she needed. She had someone to look after, who needed her. I feel it helped soften the feelings of “empty nest” when I left. Sadly, I never really made time to spend with her dog, I was so wrapped up with college and everything else, so I never really got to know him like she did. Years later when Red became ill, I remember talking to my mom about it on the phone. The trembling sound of her voice told me so much more than her words ever did, about the how much love she had for her dog, and how he had helped her cope with so many things. I was so thankful for their bond, it was like he was there to be there for her when I wasn’t. A few weeks after that phone call, he passed away. I helped my mom and dad bury him in their backyard.
To this day I have still never owned a dog, partially because I’ve mostly lived in pet-UNfriendly apartments. One day, I hope to change that. For now, I suppose I’ll just have to celebrate National Dog day by celebrating with dogs of my friends and neighbors. There are other ways to celebrate too!
Eight ways to observe/celebrate National Dog Day:
- Adopt a dog from a local shelter… like Acadiana Animal Aid!
- Volunteer at a local shelter. Helping clean cages, or just playing with the animals can be a big help!
- Shamelessly share pictures and videos of your dog on social media and use #NationalDogDay
- Donate blankets, food, or toys to animal welfare organizations
- Have a DOG PARTY!! (Invite all your friends and their dogs over.)
- Assist an elderly neighbor or family member by walking their dog.
- Do a photo shoot of (or with) your dog, to capture that special love!
- Take your dog somewhere new, like a dog park, or the beach!