CHICAGO (CBS) – If you are a dog owner, you have just one shopping day left before National Dog Day, celebrated annually on August 26, which is tomorrow (Monday). Non-dog owners are being urged to adopt from a local shelter by pet advocate Colleen Paige, the human who created the canine holiday back in 2004.
“Dogs are really doing everything that we wished we could do for each other,” says Paige. “They love unconditionally and we really can’t love each other unconditionally…we’re just not made like that. I think it’s such a travesty that dogs are so abused and neglected when they are one of the most wonderful creatures on this earth.”
The idea for National Dog Day came to Paige following the 9/11 attacks when she saw how little publicity and honor the dogs at Ground Zero initially received.
“There just was not any kind of recognition that those dogs worked so hard and so selflessly and so bravely to recover victims and bodies. I felt like dogs really needed a day. I started thinking about all of the things that they do to protect us and guide us, love us and comfort us.”
On National Dog Day, Paige encourages people to consider adopting a dog from a local shelter, home to some of the largest dog breeds in the world. Since the first National Dog Day, she estimates approximately one-million dogs have been saved through adoptions. But for many others, the outcome has not been so good – they are abandoned, abused or worse.
“Shelters are just absolutely overrun with dogs. People need to spay and neuter their dogs and cats because it just continues to add to the overpopulation and suffering that these animals go through living on the street. They end up in the shelter and there’s just too many to choose from and they end up losing their lives.”
If you have a dog, there are plenty of ways to celebrate with your best friend, says Paige.
“Take your dog to the beach, go buy them a new toy, get them groomed. That always feels really good for a dog who hasn’t been bathed in a long time is to get a good bath and a good grooming. Make sure that you are giving the dog in your care proper exercise and proper food. Read up on the newest health care.”
If you don’t have a dog and adoption is not an option, Paige says there are other ways you can take part in National Dog Day.
“Offer to walk dogs or help clean up at a local shelter or just donate $5. If everyone in their community donated $5 to a local shelter, which many people are able to do, that would be such a huge financial gain that every shelter really needs.”
Paige says her creation is catching on around the globe which means National Dog Day may soon become International Dog Day. It’s now on the calendar in the U-K, New Zealand, England, Italy and Spain.
The bottom line, she adds, is that dogs deserve every ounce of attention and thanks for their love and devotion.
“Dog’s enrich our lives in so many ways. They are now detecting seizures, they are helping our military, they are guiding the blind and they are being companions to people with disabilities.”
On National Dog Day tomorrow in San Francisco, a luxury hotel is offering complimentary dog treats. In Los Angeles, a celebrity chef is preparing gourmet dog food to accompany a “yappy hour” cocktail party. And in Virginia, one shelter is having a doggie pool party.
There’s list of 50 other ideas at www.nationaldogday.com.