Beginning in 2004, August 26 became National Dog Day when animal behaviorist Colleen Paige wanted to bring attention to adopting dogs instead of purchasing from a breeder. She also founded numerous other pet holidays you can read about here. She chose August 26 because that was the day 10 year old Colleen and her family adopted her first dog from a local animal shelter.

According to the website, National Dog Day celebrates all dogs and advocates for all dog breeds. Adoption is encouraged while certain breed bans are considered unfair to the dog.

If you’re not ready to adopt a dog, Colleen encourages folks to make a donation to their local animal shelter as a way to celebrate the day. Too often, dogs have to be put down because shelters need to free up space, which is a terrible reason to kill a dog. With more funding, shelters can expand their reach to find people to adopt, as well as expand their facilities to accommodate more dogs.

This shortage of homes to place dogs is really quite tragic, given the ways dogs take care of us. Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you the benefits I’ve received from being a dog owner:

That’s my girl, Bailey
  • Having a friendly face and wagging tail to come home too. You’re never alone with these faithful companions.
  • Getting to know the neighbors, at least the other dog owners. I’m really bad about learning the dog’s name, but not making the person’s name a priority.
  • Exercise, they need to be walked!
  • Teaching my daughter responsibility by helping to take care of it. Children need to understand the difference between a living animal and a stuffed toy. Can’t just play with it when you feel like it and then ignore it.

One film example of how dogs help us is this very touching Netflix series After Life, starring Ricky Gervais. He also wrote and directed the series. Ricky’s character, Tony, falls into a deep depression after his wife dies from cancer. As he’s contemplating suicide, the dog is asking in his own way when is he going to be fed?

Scene from “After Life

Tony realizes how much his dog needs him, so he chooses to take care of his dog instead of ending his life. In return, the dog provides comfort, security and a gentle reminder of happy memories of his wife, who also loved the dog. This isn’t a spoiler, there’s actually a lot more story that goes on with his human interactions, but his relationship with his dog is where you see Tony’s heart. That to me is the most beautiful thing about dogs. The lack of judgement they have makes it easy for us to open our hearts to them, and in return, we get a faithful companion.

Happy National Dog Day!