From National Mutt Day and National Purebred Dog Day to National Puppy Day, every dog quite clearly has his day. Cats are also celebrated with holidays devoted to the divine feline, including Respect Your Cat Day and Hug Your Cat Day, while other companion animals have their own special time the spotlight, namely on National Bird Day, International Rabbit Day, National Hamster Day and World Turtle Day. However, one day is set aside to collectively honor all of the animals that live in our hearts and homes -- April 11th, National Pet Day!
Established in 2005 by pet and family lifestyle expert Colleen Paige, the holiday is also a time to shine a light on the need to help all homeless companion animals find forever families to call their own. Here are just a few of the many ways that you can celebrate National Pet Day with your dog:
For the Artistic Tail-wagger
- Unleash your inner Jackson Pawllock, Dogas or Furrida Kahlo and create a portrait of your dog! Capture your canine companion's cuteness in a photographic souvenir of National Pet Day.
- Give your dog a taste of the good life by creating tasty treats with your own two hands! (Don't miss our My Dog Says I'm a Great Cook cookbook for inspiration.)
- Mull over the menu together on the patio of your local dog-friendly restaurant.
- Crank up some doggie-themed ditties ("Hound Dog" by the King of Rock 'n Roll, Donnie Osmond's "Puppy Love," "Bird Dog" by The Everly Brothers and Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out" are just a few that come to mind), kick off your shoes and dance with your dog! If you and Rover don't exactly look like Fred and Ginger when you cut a rug, teach your "old dog" some new tricks by watching canine freestyle classes online, or see if you can sign up for a dog dancing class in your area!
- Learn about your community together on a dog-friendly walking tour! From wineries that welcome tail-waggers to botanical gardens that allow furry family members to stop and smell the roses, there's a tour to spark the interest of every cultured canine. (Pups can even take a peek into the past with their pet parent-- and maybe see a specter along the way-- while on a dog-friendly ghost tour!)
For the Four-Legged Lover of Entertainment
- Your barking buddy has binge watched every episode of Game of Thrones and Stranger Things with you. Why not figuratively hand over the remote to Rover for the day? You can go old school and cheer on Lassie as she rescues little Timmy from a well, unleash your inner child with episodes of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? and PAW Patrol, or check out a reality TV series that revolves around our tail-wagging chums, such as Lucky Dog or Pit Bulls & Parolees.
- National Pet Day is a golden opportunity to watch a silver screen feature with Spot! You could curl up on the couch and enjoy a marathon of classic canine-themed movies, or you could hop in the car and take your film-loving furry friend to a dog-friendly drive-in theater! (Numerous Fido-friendly drive-ins dot the country…here are the ones we've found in our home state of Texas.)
For the Sports-Loving Dog
- If Fido is a four-legged fan of America's favorite pastime, why not fetch tickets to a dog-friendly baseball game? Many major and minor league teams host Bark in the Park/Dog Day games. some of which raise funds to help dogs and cats who have been thrown a curve ball by life.
- If the idea of being on the water makes a big splash with your dog, strap a canine life-jacket on your pal with paws and spend the day boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, or simply go for a swim or chase waves along the shore.
- Dig out a few tennis balls for a game of fetch.
- Go for a jog alongside your dog!
- Don't underestimate the joy that a simple stroll through your local park or a stop at the nearest dog park will bring to your fur baby!
For Dogs that Love to Shop
- Did you know that several popular retails chains welcome pets? Give your local store a quick call before you plan a trip (even pet-friendly chains must adhere to local regulations). If Bowser is a bookworm, the two of you can stroll among the bestsellers at Barnes & Noble; the four-legged fashionista can gaze at the garments at Ross and Macy's, and if your canine companion is your inspiration for your craft projects, take a stroll down the aisles together at Hobby Lobby.
For the Party Animal
- National Pet Day is a time to get your pack of two-and four-legged friends together and paw-ty! Look around online for dog-themed party decorations and favors, or tap in to your inner Martha Stewart and make your own-- your local craft store should have all the supplies you need.
- Make a playlist of toe-tapping (and tail-wagging!) tunes about dogs, organize a few Fido-tastic games for your four-legged guests to play, such as a canine version of musical chairs, and activities like an outdoor obstacle course and mini-water park complete with a kiddie pool and sprinkler; and let the pack "compete" in fun competitions to see who has the fastest tail wag, who can perform the best trick, and which pup looks the most like their pet parent.
- Don't forget to make some treats for your dog's chums to chow down on-- from pupsicles to cupcakes! (See My Dog Says I'm a Great Cook for super easy recipes.)
The Dawn of a New Day for Dogs in Need on National Pet Day
- Along with celebrating the joy that your dog brings to your life, take time on National Pet Day to bring joy to companion animals in need. Pay a visit to your local animal shelter and sign up to be a volunteer, or bring a donation of much-needed supplies.
- If your dog would like a brofur or sisfur, meet the adoptables at shelters and rescue organizations in your area and check out the many adoptable companion animals listed on Adoptapet.com, PetFinder.com and PetHarbor.com!
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