March is flying by! Time to look again at the calendar, which is filled with holidays honoring our animal companions. Some of the holidays are serious; others are silly. Whatever their objective, they still might give you some ideas about how to have fun with or honor your pets. To help you keep track of those very special dates, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors will post a round-up of them every few weeks.
March 13: K9 Vets Day
One event has already happened and I’m sorry to have missed it. The idea of a K9 Veterans Day originated with a retired military working dog trainer named Joseph Wright who wanted recognition for dogs who serve in military, law enforcement, and other capacities. Why March 13? Because this is the official birthday of the US Army K9 Corps.
During World War I, the United States began to take notice of the European employment of canines to carry messages, provide comfort to soldiers, etc. Well over a million dogs were used. History.Com writes that on March 13 in 1942, the Quartermaster Corps (QMC) of the United States Army began training its own dogs for a War Dog Program, which became known as “K-9 Corps.” Upon encouragement from The American Kennel Association and a group called Dogs for Defense, owners donated healthy and capable dogs for service. The QMC then was given the task of training dogs for the U.S. Navy, the Marines, and even the Coast Guard. After basic obedience training, qualified dogs were sent through one of four specialized programs to prepare them to work as sentry dogs, scout or patrol dogs, messenger dogs, and mine-detection dogs.
Most pet-related holidays are unofficial. The same is true of K9 Vets Day, but there is a movement to designate the day as an official holiday. Sarah Sprouse, AKC Government Relations Legislative Analyst, reports that state legislators across the country are stepping up to recognize our canine heroes. Sprouse offers these statistics from a senate resolution in Kentucky: “By the end of World War II, over 10,000 dogs were trained to search for land mines, tunnels, traps, trip wires, and other hazards undetectable to the two-footed soldier … Over 30,000 dogs have served in the military since March 13, 1942, with over 1,500 and 4,000 dogs deployed during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts … As of 2012, approximately 2,800 active duty dogs have been deployed around the world, including over 600 in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The American Kennel Club encourages other states to join in the effort to recognize the contributions of our canine heroes, stating “If your federation or club is interested in initiating a similar measure in your state legislature please contact the American Kennel Club’s Government Relations department at 919-816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org”.
March 23: National Puppy Day & Cuddly Kitten Day
Another day with a lot of press, including international recognition through tweets and its own website, is National Puppy Day. On this special day, founded in 2006 by Colleen Paige, owners are encouraged to “celebrate the magic and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives.” Just for fun, International Business Times has listed twelve interesting facts about puppies that you might want to check out.
The day is intended to inspire everyone to help “save orphaned puppies across the globe” and to educate the public “about the horrors of puppy mills”. According to The Humane Society of the United States, there are more than 10,000 puppy mills in America that supply our nation’s pet stores, with fewer than 3,000 regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The dogs are kept in terrible conditions and are often killed when they can no longer breed. The official motto of National Puppy Day is, “Adopt instead of shop!” If you want to find out more, read What to Do About Puppy Mills. This post contains my interview with a representative of Hearts United for Animals, a no-kill shelter dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of puppy mill dogs. The organization has rescued over 5,000 dogs from puppy mills since its start in 1996.
The origins of Cuddly Kitten Day are unknown, but why argue with an excuse to pamper your furry feline? 😉 Kittens too are being orphaned across the globe and kitten mills do exist too. One Green Planet provides the alarming statistic that 90% of all kittens bought in pet stores come from kitten mills. It goes on to note that, “kittens that aren’t fortunate enough to be purchased by pet stores or into family homes are sold to laboratories or other testing facilities.” Dogs aren’t the only victims, as illustrated by cases detailed by Petful, and we need to fight for better care for all of our companion animals.
March 31: Respect Your Cat Day
Rounding out the pet holidays in March is Respect Your Cat Day. Its origins are unknown, although Legacy 9News from Colorado points out that March 28 is an historic day for our feline friends because allegedly, on March 28, 1384, Richard II of England forbid the consumption of cats. While I couldn’t find anything to substantiate the claim, I did find records suggesting that cats used to be eaten in various European countries during hard times. Regardless of whether the date has any relevant historical significance, Respect Your Cat Day is a great way for cat owners to end the month. Global Animal lists some fun facts about cats, while Animal Fair offers these ideas for brightening up the day of feline friends:
- Take time to nap with your cat
- Treat your cat to something yummy
- Cuddle with your cat
- Play together with toys
- Give your cat a little feline spa treatment or massage
- And best of all… Spread about some catnip!