Today is National Dog Day! When you visit your favorite social media site today, you’ll see lots of photos, videos, tributes, shareable stories and lots of #NationalDogDay hashtags. We love to join in on these fun events on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. − after all, we’re all about dogs at DogWatch! But with more and more of these national “days” popping up throughout the year, we wondered, “Where do all these “days” come from? Who creates them and why?”

To answer some of these questions, we looked into the origins of some of the most popular pet-related holidays.

National Dog Day LogoNational Dog Day (August 26th)
National Mutt Day (July 31st and December 2nd)
National Black Dog Day (October 1st)
National Specially-Abled Pets Day (May 3rd)
National Dress Up Your Pet Day (January 14th)
and more…

Today’s National Dog Day is one of many “dog days” created by “Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert” Colleen Paige. On her website, Paige calls her many successful, social-media-driven dog days a “lifesaving mission” that have “helped to save millions of unwanted pets in the last ten years.”

So what is particular does “National Dog Day” stand for? Created in 2004, National Dog Day is celebrated annually on August 26th and its mission is as follows:

National Dog Day serves to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year, and acknowledges family dogs and dogs that work selflessly each day to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort…National Dog Day can be marked as many a dog’s birthday for those rescued on the day and for all of them it will be akin to a “K9- 4th of July!” Even citizens who are not dog owners will be encouraged to donate $5 to their local shelter on National Dog Day.

National Mutt Day, National Black Dog Day and National Specially-Abled Pets Day and  have similar purposes, but with a particular focus on dogs that often overlooked for adoption. You may remember that we celebrated National Mutt Day last month with a pair of mutt-themed blog posts. And we look forward to celebrating National Dress Up Your Pet Day in style next January. Our dogs, maybe not so much.

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month (October)

The ASPCA sponsors this event every October, and many animal shelters, rescues and organizations join in to help dogs in need. We like this list, compiled by pet adoption website Petfinder,  of 10 things every dog lover can do to help shelter dogs during this special month, or really, any month! Remember, if you can’t adopt a dog at this time, you can help in other ways, such as fostering, volunteering and donating supplies or money to your local shelter or rescue group.

National Take Your Dog to Work Day (Friday following Father’s Day)

Did you know that dog-friendly offices can boost team connection and creativity? Well, why not try it out next June on the annual National Take Your Dog to Work Day! This annual event was created by Pet Sitters International (PSI) in 1999 to celebrate the great companions dogs make and to encourage their adoption. Of course, at DogWatch, everyday is Take Your Dog to Work Day – just watch our video!

National Pet Preparedness Month (June)

While we are unsure of the official origin of this event, National Pet Preparedness Month serves as an important reminder every year to encourage pet owners to plan for their pets in the event of a hurricane, tornado or other extreme weather event. In recognition of this month, the American Humane Association shared this helpful list of top 10 items to include in your pet preparedness kit. It’s a good read, no matter what time of year it is.

National Dogs in Politics Day (September 23rd)

Nixon family dog Checkers

The Nixon family with Checkers. National Archives photo dated August 16, 1953.

This unique annual holiday is also known as “National Checkers Day,” after the presidential pooch who inspired it. On this day in 1952, then-Senator Richard Nixon gave his famous “Checkers speech” addressing a fundraising scandal that threatened his campaign for Vice President as Dwight D. Eisenhower’s running mate. What does this have to do with dogs? Well, Checkers was the name of a Cocker Spaniel that had been a gift to his family from a political donor who heard that Nixon’s two children wanted a dog. “And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog,” said Nixon. “And I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.”

The Checkers speech engaged voters and reenergized Nixon’s eventually successful campaign. Nowadays, a “Checkers speech” is used to describe any emotional speech by a politician. Instantly memorable, the “Checkers Speech” was seen, or heard, by about 60 million Americans. So now on every September 23rd, we remember the day when one black and white spaniel helped decide a vice presidential candidate’s fate.

National Hot Dog Day (July 23rd)

Ok, so this one is technically not about actual dogs, but we couldn’t help but include it.  After a quick look at the National Day Calendar, a website that reviews and compiles these “holidays,” you will see that many of the holidays are related to food. (National Donut Day, anyone?) But National Hot Dog Day (established by, unsurprisingly, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council) is also a great excuse to share photos of dogs in ridiculous hot dog costumes! Bonus point if your dog is already a “hot dog dog” (aka a Dachshund).

Did we miss any of your favorite “dog days”? Let us know in the comments!

Further Reading

  • For more information about the history of “fake holidays” and to hear from the minds behind “National Onion Ring Day,” “National Splurge Day” and, we’ve not making this up, “Accordion Awareness Month,” check out this article from Money magazine.
  • Fashion blog Racked and tech blog Smashd have also intriguingly tackled this topic.
  • Finally, read this interview with Marlo Anderson, the South Dakota-based owner of National Day Calendar, a website that reviews and compiles these many and varied holidays into a central, searchable online resource.