National Best Friends Day

Happy National Best Friends Day!

Take some time today to let your best friend and all your friends know how much they mean to you and that you appreciate and cherish their friendship! While you’re at it, pass along such warm regards to your pet friends too!

Ten months ago, Aaron and I fostered Garrus and Charlie. They had been introduced to one another at the shelter and immediately hit it off. We did not want to split them up and adopted them both. I might be biased but they really do have the cutest bromance under the sun. If one of them is at the vet or in another room, the other will search for his buddy (Charlie squeaks as he does this). They play games of chase, hide and seek, pounce, and batting toys around the house. Frequently we find them grooming or snuggling together, and it’s always adorable.

You can see why I bought them a dog bed. They need the extra room!

Hug Your Cat Day

Last night a storm blew through our area, filling the night with lots of lightning, thunder, and heavy rain. It knocked the power out for a few hours too. The storm’s noise and emergency weather alerts woke us up. Aaron went into the living room to get his phone and found Garrus lounging unperturbed on the ottoman. Charlie, however, was ill at ease and sought us out. It was a pleasant surprise to find, while partly asleep, Charlie eagerly searching for my hands and purring loudly when I started petting him. I sleepily hugged Charlie and he settled in my arms for about a minute, kneading, before leaving to investigate what rubs Aaron had to offer.

This morning I had an ottoman visit with Garrus. I was able to place him on my lap and give him neck and chest scritches, which he loves, as well as stroking his back and kissing his head. Cue the warm fuzzies when I heard him purring.

Hug Your Cat Day is a fun excuse to give your feline companion a little extra love. If your cat is not a cuddler or into being held, respect that. Instead try a play session, tasty treats, back strokes, and/or quality bonding time together.

Pet Appreciation Week

The first full week in June–Sunday, June 3rd through Saturday, June 9th–is Pet Appreciation Week! Summer is the time for family vacations and fun, so make sure you take the time to acknowledge and truly treasure all the benefits that your pets have brought to your life. My cats bring me joy, laughter, and warm fuzzies, and have taught me about love, family, true friendship, and compassion.

I managed to snap a photo with Charlie looking directly at the camera while Garrus enjoys his buddy’s company.

What do you appreciate most about your pets? What lessons have they taught you? Share in the comments!

Be Kind to Animals Week

The first full week of May is Be Kind to Animals Week. Did you know that Be Kind to Animals Week is the oldest commemorative week in US history and the nation’s longest-running human education campaign? Neat, isn’t it?

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Be Kind to Animals Week is an annual celebration that spotlights the crucial importance of kindness and compassion to all animals, pets and non-pets alike.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Here are a few ways you can participate in this altruistic week year-round:

  1. Volunteer and/or donate to an animal shelter or rescue group. Walk dogs. Socialize cats. Hold rabbits. Bottle-feed kittens or puppies and give the shelter employees a well-deserved break.
  2. Foster a shelter animal. You can also pet-sit for a friend so said pet does not have to be boarded.
  3. Use cruelty-free products.
  4. Help out feral cats. You can do this by providing food, water, and even a shelter. You can also donate to a catch-spay/neuter-release program in your area.
  5. Protect the environment. Recycle, reduce, reuse. Don’t litter because (a) it’s gross and (b) animals can get sick, injured, or die from eating or getting tangled in plastic or other materials. Recycle and dispose of toxins safely. Use safe dish detergents and paper instead of Styrofoam. Be mindful that a lot of our waste ends up in the sea.
  6. Run a 5K or participate in a fundraiser that benefits animals. Ask your animal shelter or humane society for ways you get can get involved.
  7. Leave wild animals in their natural homes. While it’s tempting to bring home a snail, lizard, snake, or baby bird for the sake of scientific curiosity, instead practice kindness and naturalistic observation (a la Sir David Attenborough).
  8. Plant a garden. More specifically, plant a butterfly garden or other vegetation that attracts bees, hummingbirds, and other wildlife. Bonus: pretty colors.

“No act of kindness, not matter how small, is ever wasted.” ~Aesop

Photo courtesy of Pexels

National Specially-Abled Pets Day

Today’s holiday was created by animal advocate Colleen Page to educate the public about the importance of caring for disabled pets. Animals of all kinds can become disabled from injury or illness, or they may be born with a disability. This does not make them any less lovable or less deserving of their forever home!

Photo courtesy of Neatorama

Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine and new technologies, these animals can use support slings, dog carts, and other aids so that they can live their best lives! There is also plenty of useful information, advice, and support available for pets with any number of disabilities.

Check out this YouTube video of an owner using Australian Sign Language (Auslan) to communicate with his deaf dog Flop!

Remember that a disabled pet is more likely to be overlooked at a shelter. They need loving homes just as much as pets that hear, see, and walk with four paws.

Photo courtesy of Bored Panda

Meet Zeus! He is a blind Western Screen Owl that now lives at the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar, California. Aren’t his eyes amazing? You can also check out Zeus on Instagram!

National Purebred Dog Day

Growing up, my family’s pets were Miniature Schnauzers. My parents elected for the breed because, among other factors, they wanted a small dog that did not shed and got along well with children. Our Schnauzers made excellent family companions, jogging partners, foot watermers, house guardians, and general bundles of exuberance and bed beards. Over many years, we had four: Murphy, Mimi, Rabita, and Dottie.

We bred Rabita (Spanish for “little tail”, Rabi for short) once, resulting in six puppies, one of which we kept (Dottie). Although Rabi certainly chose my mother as her designated person, I have incredible fondness for her because she was such a character. Imagine a prim, fussy, utilitarian, uptight, and old-fashioned British nanny and put it in a Schnauzer. Basically Rabi was the canine version of Dame Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham from Downton Abbey (and I mean that in a good way). She positively brimmed with vibrant personality, especially when she scolded us in Schnauzerese when she caught anyone out of bed past what she considered bedtime. Plus she had Flying Nun ears and an incredibly smoochable head.

Photo courtesy of The Daily Shep

Dottie was a happy-go-lucky mama’s girl who thrived on being in the center of the action. She hopped (my family called it “bing-binging”) in the middle of a run and liked flaunting her belly to the world as she napped. One of Dottie’s favorite pastimes was charging into an enormous pile of leaves and temporarily hiding in the heap, smelling everything and having a grand adventure while doing so.

Photo courtesy of Greenfield Puppies

On National Purebred Dog Day, we should celebrate all dog breeds: herding, hunting, bird, gun, companion, hounds, pointers, scenthounds, setters, sighthounds, sled dogs, spaniels, spitz, terriers…the list goes on. The development of these breeds have fascinating histories. If you would prefer to adopt rather than purchase one from a reputable breeder, you can find many purebreds needing a home in animal shelters or through rescue groups.
How can you celebrate this holiday? Spend some quality time with your dog, whether it is a round of fetch, a long walk, a thorough belly rub, or kissysnuggles on the couch!

International Guide Dog Day

Today is International Guide Dog Day! To all guide and other assistance dogs out there, thank you for your service and life-changing work!
Guide or seeing-eye dogs are trained service animals that provide invaluable assistance to the blind and visually impaired. For example, they are trained to avoid obstacles, signal changes in elevation, retrieve dropped objects, and locate objects on command. These are just some of the many tasks a guide dog may do for his or her handler. There are formal training facilities, such as the Guide Dogs for the Blind, just for this purpose. Keep in mind that the handler and dog comprise a team. Be courteous and don’t distract the dog or the handler!

Photo courtesy of Southeastern Guide Dogs

There are many types of service dogs in addition to guide dogs. These include hearing, psychiatric, medical assistance, and mobility assistance. Here are some of the numerous tasks these marvelous animals are trained to do.

Photo courtesy of the American Kennel Club

Remember that the Americans with Disabilities Act distinguishes between service or assistance dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs. They are not the same thing, and only service dogs are protected by the ADA. If you have questions, check out these FAQs and handy infographic:

Infographic courtesy of Care2

Want to know more about guide dogs and how amazing they are? Check out Growing Up Guide Pup (website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel) and Zoe the Seeing Eye Dog!

Here are a few stories describing the astonishingly cool things that guide dog teams have accomplished! Guide dogs are true heroes!