More dog days of summer!

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Our best four-legged friend has his day and it’s August 31! National Dog Day is celebrated around the country by dog lovers.

The purpose of National Dog Day is to bring attention to dogs and to encourage their adoption. By honoring our dogs, we are recognizing their unselfish love and care devoted to their human companions. Dogs help individuals who are blind, visually impaired and disabled be more mobile. Dogs partner with law enforcement to sniff out bombs, detect drugs and pull victims from the wreckage of buildings and cars.

National Dog Day has two goals—to honor dogs and to rescue them from homelessness and abuse. Many dogs are abandoned simply because someone changed their mind about ownership. Maybe the child no longer cares properly for the dog; maybe it sheds too much or barks too much, and maybe the owner is becoming feeble and can no longer care for the animal. Whatever the reason, devotees of National Dog Day step in and try to rescue these loving creatures.

Another goal of the National Dog Day organization is to encourage prospective owners to act responsibly when looking for a new pet. Many times, pet stores use puppy mills or backyard breeders to acquire their dogs. Check carefully into the source of the canine supplier. Consider adopting your new pet from a shelter. Often, purebred dogs can be acquired from legitimate breeders. These breeders are often in contact with pure breed rescue organizations and may know of a dog that will become your best friend.

How to celebrate National Dog Day
For activists, write your congressional representative and ask that he or she support legislation banning puppy mills and euthanasia of unwanted pets in your state. Volunteers are always needed as rescue agents. Local shelters need help in caring for the dogs. Volunteer your time. When you are unable to donate time, consider giving small cash donations, blankets and toys to your local shelter.

On a more cheerful note, buy your dog a new toy to celebrate National Dog Day. If you don’t have a dog (and why not, I ask?), perhaps you could send a gift to a friend or family member for their pet. You could organize a National Dog Day party and invite all your canine friends (with their owners). Set up obedience trials; have a costume contest and a “trick” contest. Award prizes. Have a volunteer take photos of the dogs cavorting and showing off. If this is too much for you, you might consider simply treating your dog to a doggy resort for a couple of days. The dog will enjoy the experience and become accustomed to having others care for it. In this way, the dog will be prepared for a stay away from home if you have an unexpected emergency.

You’ve adopted; now what?
For the new dog owner, it is important to learn how to care for the dog properly. Most dogs are well behaved if their needs are met. Occasionally, one will act out. To get a handle on different problems, read up, do Internet research and ask your veterinarian, since sometimes misbehavior is caused by physical ailments. You may need the help of a professional dog trainer and training classes. Another excellent resource for dog owners is the television program The Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan on National Geographic Channel. Watch and learn.

Talk to your veterinarian about the vaccinations needed in your area. Heed the veterinarian’s advice to have your dog spayed or neutered to prevent more unwanted animals. Puppies are cute, but litters can be big and hard to care for. My Lab had 12 puppies the first time. I had to administer medication to them three times a day. Enough said!

Caring for your fur friend
Be careful with your dog during the summer months. The interior of cars can heat up extremely fast, and your dog can get heat prostration. When you are driving, be sure the dog is secured in an appropriate carrier or restraint. Too many accidents happen because the driver has to stop suddenly and the dog goes flying. Not only can the animal get hurt, it could cause even more problems for the driver.

Exercise is important for you and your dog. Be sure to take your dog for a daily walk, and walk the dog of an elderly neighbor if they are no longer able to do so. Your neighbor will appreciate it, and their dog will get the exercise it needs. Many cities have dog parks, and some places even have beaches for dogs. Take the dogs to one of these areas for a special outing.

Nothing is more fun than taking your loving, well-behaved dog, sporting a new collar and leash, strutting out for his or her daily walk. Enjoy your walk and your dog will too. HLM

Sources: and the experience of the author.