Sunday, September 22 is the first day of the 85th annual National Dog Week. This weeklong celebration was founded in 1928 by William Lewis Judy, affectionally known as Captain Will Judy. A decorated World War I veteran, Judy loved dogs. He founded a publishing house in 1921 and bought Dog World magazine in 1923, which he published for more than 35 years. He also helped to establish the Dog Writers’ Association of America.

National Dog Week was founded to honor our canine friends for their service as well as their loyalty and companionship. In the introduction to his classic book The Dog Encyclopedia: A Complete Reference Work On Dogs, Judy wrote: “Who invests in a puppy receives in return for his investment ten years of companionship, sport, and devotion that he can not purchase elsewhere at any price.”

In keeping with the theme for this year’s celebration, Kids and K-9s: Celebrating the Bond between Youth and Dogs, here are eight ways to celebrate the special bond that exists between kids and dogs.

  1. Teach a child how to take a great photo of their dog. If you’d like some help, there are many sites on the internet that offer tips on how to take great pet pictures, such as Digital Photography School and Make the Photo. With your help, your child will create images that he or she will treasure for a lifetime.
  2. Help a child create a Facebook page to record the adventures of the family dog—a good way to share the photos created with their newly developed photography skill and a fun way to connect with others who love their pets.
  3. Encourage your child to raise money for a local shelter or dog rescue organization. Instead of the traditional lemonade stand, take advantage of the cool fall weather to help them set up a hot apple cider and pumpkin cookie stand, or hold a yard sale. Be sure to make signs to let patrons know that the funds are going to a good cause.
  4. Bake some healthy pet treats with your children. There are many recipes on the web to choose from, and we have included an easy recipe for Pumpkin Dog Treats at the end of this article.
  5. Take your children with you to donate dog food to the local food pantry. Families who lack sufficient food for themselves often struggle to feed their pets as well.
  6. Volunteer with your child to spend time with or walk dogs at a local shelter. It’s never too soon to teach your children that volunteering can be fun.
  7. Take your children and the family dog on a special outing—a picnic and hike or a visit to a dog park. Take along some of those homemade dog treats for your four-legged friend.
  8. Arrange a “kids and dogs” play date with another family. Be sure to include treats and toys for all.

Helping with the care of a family pet can be a gentle way to teach children to take responsibility for the needs of those they love and for others. Join all of us at DogWatch® in celebrating National Dog Week, from September 22 through September 28 with our children and their gentle four-legged teachers.

Pumpkin Dog Treats

1/2 c. canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling!)
4 tbsp molasses
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Blend all of the wet ingredients (pumpkin, molasses, vegetable oil, water) together.
Add the dry ingredients (wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon) and stir until a soft dough forms.
Grab the dough by teaspoonfuls and roll it into balls with your hands (hint: wet hands work best). Drop the balls onto a cookie sheet/pizza pan and flatten them with a fork.
Bake until hard (approximately 25 min.). If you want them a bit crispier, you can just turn off your oven and let them cool in there overnight.